I am a worrier.
Oh, how I wish I could throw my worries out the window and drive 20 miles over the speed limit without seeing my life (or red and blue lights) flash before me. To make matters worse, I usually worry about the strangest, most trivial things. I guess that's why I married Nick. I worry a lot, he worries not. (Perhaps, that is a suitable combination?)
Anyway, when I got pregnant, my subtle worries became more prevalent in my daily life. I constantly stressed over what I was eating, the development of our unborn fetus, and pretty much all things baby. I think every parent worries about having a healthy, perfect baby and I was no exception. Even after two ultrasounds that proved the existence of all human extremities, I still had scary nightmares that something would go wrong during delivery. It wasn't that I feared having a baby with a physical or mental disability, it was fearing what I didn't know - giving birth, adjusting to being a mom, being 100% responsible for someone else - all of those fears manifested themselves in obscure baby dreams and nonsensical baby worries.
Then, two months before I was supposed to have my baby, my sister's son was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. The weeks leading up to my due date were full of new vocabulary words and unfamiliar situations for our family as we watched my sister and her husband deal with a seemingly unbearable trial. I cried myself to sleep countless nights thinking about my sister and what she was going through. I even cried thinking about how unfit I would be in a situation like hers. At the time, being eight months pregnant I was certain I could never bear such a burden. As a parent, you have such high hopes for your children. You want them to be happy. To be completely honest, I felt ashamed for entertaining such trivial worries when my sister was dealing with something so real. My worries didn't go away, but it definitely put things in perspective for me.
And then Evie was born. When the nurse put her in my arms I cried because she was perfect. I hadn't even really looked at her, but I knew she was perfect. I soon took a good look at her and couldn't necessarily decide who she looked like. One thing was certain though - she had my ears.
My pointy ears! When I was younger I used to ask my Dad why my ears were so strange. He usually said something like "you were over-baked," or its a "relatively uncommon deformity, you definitely won't pass it on to your kids." This might be perhaps the only time in my life that I will be able to prove my Dad wrong. As far as I know, deformities are not hereditary but if they are, Ev should consider herself so lucky to have inherited such an uncommon mutation. Anyway, after taking a closer look at my baby's funky ears, I noticed her left ear had a ear tag.
Her ears just kept getting weirder. Cute, but weird. Two of my three sisters had ear tags when they were born and when the Doctor told me that ear tags were usually hereditary it all began to make sense. My daughter was destined for some crazy ears and I'm proud to say she gets them from me. In my opinion, her spocky imperfections are what made her perfect.
However, our doctor recommend that the ear tag be removed because they can be a sign of other medical conditions. (Not sure how, but I'm not a doctor so whatever)
Which brings me to yesterday - my baby had her ear tag removed.
Let me rewind and be real for a moment. I've had a tough week, perhaps the hardest week I've had as a mom. Ev and I both had bad colds, my baby got her first tooth, and all the driving we'd done the past two weeks had made Ev's sleeping habits even more out of wack. Evie is such an easy going baby, but this week she was fussy non-stop, up ALL night, and so unhappy. Plus, knowing she was having surgery on her ear later on in the week made me apprehensive. I hate complaining because I'm blessed to have such a healthy, happy baby, but there were moments the past couple days where I wanted to poke my eyes out with an infant rectal thermometer. Seriously, a teething baby with a head cold plus a sick mom running on zero sleep is a delightful combination if you are the gatekeeper in hell.
Several days ago at 3:30 AM I finally gave up on walking Ev to sleep, put her in the carseat, and went for a drive. About two minutes into our outing she was asleep and I finally enjoyed some silence. In my frustration I seriously thought, Is this what I signed up for? I won't lie, I had a little (big) pity party for myself and everybody was invited - bitter, pathetic, negative, angry, annoyed - the whole gang. I wanted so badly to be patted on the back for my efforts (lame I know). But I didn't want a pat from Nick (he gives me plenty) or my mom or my sister - I wanted a pat from Evie. I know this sounds so sick and twisted but its true. I wanted my 3 1/2 month old to pull me aside and tell me I was a good mom and the friends at my pity party so encouraged that thought.
I have come to realize that in my most frustrating moments as a mother, the only person whose opinion matters to me is Evie's. There's a catch there though - sweet Ev can't express how she feels about me very well. She can smile, coo, snuggle, and let me kiss her cheeks off, but she can't give me the vindication I need as a sleep deprived crazy person.
As a mom you can worry, stress, and pity yourself until your nuts, but the only "pat" that can deal with those issues is one that you give yourself. I'm not talking about an I'm-the-best-mom-ever-so-booya pat, but more of a don't-sweat-the-small-stuff-and-even-sometimes-the-big-stuff pat. Being a parent is hardwork and I think that's vindication enough. Knowing I'm doing the toughest job out there has helped me shake the worries a little bit. Its slow coming, but everyday Evie teaches me how to prioritize better - how to chuck trivial worries out of my life.
Okay, here's the frosting. My poor daughter, who in actuality had a much rougher week than me (and only because she got dealt a crappy ear card from the gene pool) ended up giving me the pat I thought I really really needed. I refused to be in the room when the doctor removed the ear tag. (It involved local anesthetic and a pair of scissors) To make things worse I could hear her screaming through the walls. When they brought her out and handed her to me she buried her face in my neck and for the rest of the day we cuddled and loved each other. It was such a tender mercy.
To be honest, I'm not really sure where this post is going, but I just feel like I learned so much this week. In reality, I feel like I learn so much every week. The more you learn, the more you realize how much you don't know. Yes, I'm learning not to worry about stupid things and I'm learning to trust that my daughter loves me back, but 3 1/2 months on the parent wagon is not long enough to have it figured out. And maybe you never figure "it" out, but you figure out how to deal with the stress of parenthood.
I think about my sister when I think about focusing on what really matters. Prior to Keith's cancer, I thought she was supermom as she chased after 3 kids under 2 while keeping a clean, happy home. But now her house isn't as clean and I know on difficult days she has to dig deep to find happiness, but she is ten times the supermom she was before this trial. And it wasn't like her life was easy before Keith got sick. It was hard and busy and stressful and a bunch of other words associated with being a young mom. But when the hard got harder she approached it with positivity.
In observing my sister and in thinking about my own experiences as a mom I have come to realize that I'm a much better person than I was 3 1/2 months ago. Sure I'm exhausted, slightly chubby, and fuzzy-brained, but I'm learning patience and unselfishness. I see things so differently now and I'm sort of embarrassed it took having a baby for me to realize it. My dad always says "Do hard things." I now feel like that is the best advice he's ever given me because doing such hard things these past few months has changed me for the better. I can't help but express that even though it has made my blog unbelievably mushy/sentimental.
When did I become such a cheeseball?