It’s been a perfectly useless Sunday.
On the eve of her twelfth week on earth, Baby G remains clingy and crabby, even in my arms, especially in her Papa’s arms, eternally and maddeningly displeased with most everything she encounters.But especially: car seats, baby slings, swings, bouncy chairs, anything that squeaks or rocks or does not dispense milk.
My choices: appease her displeasure by nestling her into my soft, motherly arms, taking to our shared bed, and nursing her from morning to night as my muscles and brain slowly turn to Jello and the summer slips away outside our bedroom windows; or nurse her to sleep so I might briefly sneak away; or put her down, and cue the misery of everyone involved
Today, as with most days, I was unable pull off the nurse-escape trick, so when I could nurse and lay about no more, I passed her to her unflappable father, in whose arms she screeched and railed as I snuck off and pretended to be an adult with, you know, actual dreams and goals, like loading the dishwasher and working on my website and permitting myself the luxury of a leisurely dump.
And oh, what a stupid hour it was! I tried to have a go at the website, but Internet doesn’t work on my Mac Mini, and Internet has never really worked on my Mac Mini. I have no idea why this is so, and thus keep using my shitty old laptop because I’m embarrassed that I can’t fix the Mini and am thus far unwilling to pay someone else to sort out what is probably something so obvious and easy.
The Internet has also lately deigned to function on my laptop, so I fiddled about between the two machines for awhile, to no avail. It was too hot in my office because I’d brought the office fan downstairs to keep me and baby cool weeks ago and keep forgetting to bring it back up. And I could hear Baby G shrieking and wailing downstairs in her Papa’s arms, endlessly, as I pounded away at my erstwhile machines. It felt like such a colossal waste of time, so I eventually slammed my laptop down in disgust and stomped back downstairs.
“Give her to me,” I barked at Husband, who had stuffed a bright-orange pair of ear plugs into his ears to block the deafening roar of our sweet, enraged progeny, who writhed and squirmed inside her baby carrier.
I took her angry, sweaty body into my arms, stomped into our downstairs office, pulled out my right tit, and inserted it into my baby’s quivering mouth. She was so covered in sweat and spit and tears and other mystery fluids by that point that she could barely latch on, and I softened.
Because I always soften. And I think, “She is so little. She understands nothing.”
And then, I think: “I suck. I am such a selfish, evil, mean-tempered, shitty mom.”
As I nursed Baby G, I considered all the other things I’d failed at today. Because of her, because of her endless, voracious need of me. Because of my tiredness and guilt.
I woke up at dawn to the sound of Baby G spitting up a tummy full of sour milk all over our freshly washed sheets. When I bent down to tend to her, she sneezed and sprayed it all over my face.
Later, I wanted to make homemade granola bars, but I felt overwhelmed and depressed by the abundance of recipes that popped up, all posted on other people’s prettier, more successful blogs. That, and I still haven’t figured out how to turn on the food processor my mother gave me almost two years ago. (Something tricky about screwing the chamber in just so.)
Later still, I wanted to go out and buy a picture frame, but the car’s low tire light has been on for weeks (months) and nobody knows why, and the tires look fine, but I’m scared to drive anywhere non-essential.
As night falls, I’m counting among my major accomplishments for the day the stealing of two naps as I nursed my cranky little babe and also the three minutes I spent emptying all the garbages in the house.
Oh, there were pinholes of light scattered throughout this bleak and beautiful summer day. There always are.
There was a lovely walk with my husband and Baby G in the early morning hours to meet dear friends for coffee, our path littered with the season’s first fallen plums and shifting shadows cut in the shape of Japanese maples and proud front-yard cedars. There was the crunch of coffee-flavored ice at the bottom of a gloriously overpriced latte, there was the sight of my little babe cupping my boob in both her tiny chubby hands as she nursed, like it was the world’s most delicious cheeseburger.
There were tacos and daydreams and strident breezes through open living room windows. There were coos and a mid-day sneeze-fart combo that shook the floorboards and endeared Baby G forever to her potty-humored Papa and me.
But the frustrations of new parenthood, so tiny in their scope, sometimes feel so legion when taken at their grand and disastrous whole, and how can I help but ponder the whole when I end so many days feeling like a complete and utter maternal failure for meeting the challenges with such a defeatist, shitty attitude (and for being the kind of mom who so frequently uses the adjective “shitty” to describe what it’s like to raise my girl).
This isn’t going to be one those essays that ends with some canned revelation about how every moment is precious, about how it’s all leading to something big and miraculous. Maybe they are, maybe it is. OK. Sure, fine.
But this early evening, I’ve got no warm bath of optimism for you to soak your tired feet in.
Because I typed this whole thing with one hand on my iPhone while baby reluctantly nursed, and it’s probably riddled with embarrassing typos. Because the highlight of this day will be a trip to a crowded and overpriced grocery store. Because the universe never promised me more. It never promised anybody more.
Maybe we better stop looking for the silver lining, the saving grace. Maybe there isn’t going to be one and there never was. it’s really and truly just us, stumbling about half exhausted atop a tiny, not very significant planet spinning within a tiny, not very significant Galaxy, dumbfounded by the beauty of the good days and trying with all our ridiculous might not to lose heart on the bad days.
Despite all this pessimism, what I do believe is this: our makers, if they existed, which they don’t, would still probably look upon the works of a day like today and be pleased, or at least not totally horrified, at what I’ve wrought: these moments, in all their piecemeal configurations– crooked, sure, but a perfect exemplar nonetheless of my very best hopes and suspicions about myself, about my family, about how the next 18 years will go.
Most likely, we’ll survive it somehow, the three of us. Because that’s what humans do: they figure their shit out. Perfectly imperfect and all of that. Because hope isn’t the sole purview of all you relentless optimists out there. I can hope, too, and sometimes I even do.
Most likely, it will surely have been worth it.
Like I said, it was a perfectly, perfectly useless Sunday.