If I could talk to my pre-baby self, here’s what I’d tell her.
You’ll need help. Ask for it.
When Maggie was born, we were lucky enough to have the nearby support of family and friends. Everyone wanted to meet (and hold and Instagram) the new baby. And it was nice. As we flailed to stay afloat in the wild storm that is new parenthood, seeing people we love heightened our spirits and gave us the motivation to put on pants. But then it became exhausting. We started scheduling our days around visitors (some whom we barely knew) and when you have a newborn, the word “scheduling” does not compute. And we had to put on pants. Ugh.
This might sound terribly ungrateful but what we didn’t need during this time were long visits and congratulatory desserts and houseplants. (Seriously, why does everyone bring new parents a houseplant? Do you really think we need ANOTHER LIVING THING to try to keep alive?) What we did need were quick and healthy meals (on paper plates), some light housework and someone to hold the baby and bounce on a yoga ball for an hour while we took a nap. We should have just asked. Figure out what will help you; say no to everything that won’t.
You’ll become those parents. Don’t try to fight it.
You don’t know how many times we’ve said in a judgy tone, “We don’t want to be those parents who (fill in the blank).” Let Fisher Price throw up in their living room. Use pacifiers/television/restaurant straws to occupy their children. Talk about things like poop and rashes at the dinner table. Post millions of baby pics on Facebook. Buuuut let’s see: fail, fail, fail and, oh geez, so much fail. I mean, you can try to hold yourself to certain standards and maintain a certain level of dignity, but in reality, the kid’s probably gonna win anyway. The sooner you accept this, the less frustrated you’ll be.
You’ll suck at other aspects of life—for now.
Someone wisely said, “You can have it all, just not all at once.” I think that’s the smartest thing I’ve heard in the whole work-life-love balance crisis that I am now experiencing deeply. That’s about all I’ve learned about this so far.
You’ll become a crazy person. Shrug.
You know when Rachel tells Ross that she loves him and then busts out laughing because in that moment, she had floated up out of her body and heard how ridiculous she sounded? I float up out of my body on a daily basis to find that man, I have entered Crazytown.
This is most evident when I:
Put on a one-woman Big Band show at 6:30 a.m.
Pretend to be a karate ninja.
Belt the Chipmunks Christmas album in June (in a chipmunk voice, of course).
Make stupid faces for hours.
ALL FOR A BABY.
You’ll be fine.
Having a baby comes with so much fear and self-doubt but whenever she giggles while patting her tiny hands on my face, I know that I can’t be screwing up that badly.
Thanks, Maggie (aka Goo, Gooski, Mooskavich). These have been the best six months of my life. I love you so very much.