Friday, January 02, 2009

The Ole' New Year's Post: The Year of Patience

I know, it's not even New Year's day but this is still my New Year's post.

So, how to begin reflecting on the massive change of becoming a mother this year, since anything else I participated in or achieved pales in comparison? I've always been one of those people who feels as though I am the first person to experience something. As if trillions of other women and men have not had their lives turned upside down by the small person who takes over the very second they exit the womb. Actually, I think there was a time socially when, thanks to the proximity of womenfolk--aunts, cousins, sisters and their offspring--that having a baby was not such a big thing--what else did you do anyway other than darn and knit and cook and have babies. So essentially I can thank progress and women's rights for the fact that my life has gone all helter-skelter since my fresh-faced new arrival. I mean that in a positive way. I'm lucky that I was so used to my freedom that a baby put a quick yoke on all that.

7 months after our son's birth, I can say that I underestimated a lot about myself before becoming a mother. Oh, and I overestimated a lot, too. This child is teaching (or trying to, at least) me patience and selflessness and things I will confess I thought I already had going for me. Woo baby have I been schooled! He's driven me face to face with my dark side, too, but of course--and here comes the Hallmark sentiment--he's exposed me to some pretty remarkable feelings I didn't know I was capable of. Powerful-die-for-you kind of love.

But most of all, I've come to see that parenting is a messy, imperfect art. Most things are out of your control and what little you can control changes fairly rapidly. As my friend Erika likes to point out, parenthood is like being a kind of mad scientist who continually experiments and tries new things, hoping for an answer, a pattern, a cure.

I don't know if I'm a better person yet, but I sure as hell aim to be. He's definitely made me excited about the world again, eager to share it all with him. And at each intolerable stage of his babyhood, it passes and he grows more into a person and I am ever more aware of how fast it's all going. He'll be in college before I know it.

I think that 2008 can comfortably be called my year of patience. Waiting for his birth. Waiting for him to sleep through the night. Waiting to feel like I have an iota of mastery at this motherhood gig. Still waiting for a lot of it, but I'm glad he's here, glad to be changing, and glad I waited 12 years with the right man to do it.


At 7:33 PM, Blogger L.C.McCabe said...


Being a mother is an amazing thing that alters your life in countless ways. I hope that some of my thoughts and advice that I gave you before birth and after the arrival of your son was helpful, but am fully cognizant that every child is different and YMMV.

Soon he'll be walking and then running. Enjoy having him be small enough to sit on your lap for as long as you can. It goes fast.

Happy New Year!

At 8:26 AM, Blogger Jordan E. Rosenfeld said...

Linda, I remember being grateful for the advice. I don't know if I followed all of it, since our boy certainly is his own man, but it was nice to receive it, unlike some of the unwanted advice that didn't make any sense to me.

It's definitely going fast!

At 12:26 PM, Blogger Samus said...

Maybe all we can do is get to know the little guys. Figure out why they're doing stuff. Not try to fit them into the mold of our cultures or upbringing. I read an ass ton of books on babies because it's all so like stepping out into the blank nothing sometimes, but the only ones that made any sense were the Happiest on the Block series. Nothing works 100% or even 90% but at least he seems to come from a "what's going on with the kiddo" perspective.

I have been thinking about sacrifice so much the last four years that I forgot about the resurrection part. Sacrifice is how you get to the really good, meaty stuff of life. There's an upside. I promise it's there, it's just that you have to be better rested before you can really enjoy it. Bah, that first year.

At 3:05 PM, Blogger Samus said...

Omgah, I just heard this again with a particular sense of dread:

"They agreed to love you inadequately, to the best of their ability, so that you would seek something of a greater measure."

Oy, that's US now.

At 3:59 PM, Blogger Jordan E. Rosenfeld said...

Samus--your comments are right on. I think the best we can be is a sort of witness/guide/camp leader to their experiences but I've had a hard time letting go of wanting to get it "right." The fact that my child seems happy and physically healthy are the only things I have to go on that maybe I'm not totally screwing him up.

As for your second comment, I have totally thought about what you said re: loving them inadequately. I wonder all the time what ways my son will despise and resent me.

As for books, the Happiest Baby on the Block saved our lives in his first couple months because, although he didn't scream at quite the "colic" level it was pretty bad. Swaddling and rocking were amazing. Though he never took a binky. That Baby Whisperer lady, however, is an evil whore.

At 8:34 PM, Blogger Samus said...

I hate the Baby Whisperer. May she, ah, rest in peace. It's all about the Happiest guy. I wish I'd read the toddler one earlier.

At 3:42 AM, Blogger Maryanne Stahl said...

>> I wonder all the time what ways my son will despise and resent me.

no point in wondering; he'll surprise you!

btw, I've loved reading all your posts, and I can't help but add, at this reflective juncture, one of my pet indignancies (is that a word?) and that is of course this:

what is more consuming, more profound, more perplexing and awesome and devastating and wondrous than parenting? and yet, when women write fiction that focuses on children or family, it is regarded as "mere" domestic trifle--that is to say, far less important than the manly subjects of violence and war (and sex, before procreation).

not to suggest you seethe. but this makes me seethe. when will the human race get its priorities in order? child-rearing and education--what is more important? and less esteemed?


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