Operate This

I picked up Anne Lamott’s Operating Instructions, mostly as a writing kick-in-the-pants. But now I’m seeing that I should’ve read it last year, in tandem with my own first year as a mom. Of course, I hardly remember anything I read last year, because of all the craziness, so it’s all okay.

Anyway–I’m less than forty pages in, and I adore her.

…but one of the worst things about being a parent, for me, is the self-discovery, the being face to face with one’s secret insanity and brokenness and rage.

(Operating Instructions, Anne Lamott, page 37)

I’m glad I’ll remember reading this now, at least. It still helps, even if I’m still in the trenches; at least colic is out of the picture. It is, however, getting to the point where it’s difficult to read without jealousy — her child at three months is doing things Baby E. can’t do at twelve months. So I have to put it down occasionally, and cry a little, and remind myself all babies are different, all babies are difficult, stop crying already and take it day by day. I should probably reread Bird by Bird again after this, just to hammer that concept home again. I love that my writing handbooks can pull double duty for special-needs-baby rearing.

Was thinking more about the dilemma with the respite caregiver. I think we’re going to do some joint sessions where I hang around with them, and maybe step out of the room for fifteen minutes, come back and take Baby E. for a bit, step out again, etc. Something to help get him used to the idea that Mom’s never far away, I guess. She cancelled this week, so I held him and rocked him during the time she’s normally here, and he went right to sleep. I felt very, very proud and almost spiteful with triumph. Like, look at my baby, he’s a major tough awful cookie but after a year of pain and suffering and derangement I CAN GET HIS ASS TO SLEEP. WOO. Which is high-larious, because

A) a YEAR. It only took me a YEAR. Seriously skilled mama, here, and

B) it’s probably more about smell than anything. I have smothered him with my smell for over a year and now he knows it. If he knew the caregiver’s smell as well, he’d drop off to sleep just fine. I am taking credit for training my baby to recognize my smell. Sad.

But it’s nice to have something to be proud of, even if ultimately it is a self-defeating pride. Once I surface from the pride, I do realize he has to get used to other people. What about daycare? What about school? It is probably in the nature of the parent to think ahead and in extremes, but it’s tough to imagine how different (god, I hope) he’ll be in a year.

In the meantime, we’ll keep on keeping on. Day by day, diaper by poopy diaper, and — dare I say it? Bird by bird.


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