A friend of mine recently welcomed a new baby into their world.
They are in their 40’s and it’s their first.
They are Ivy League educated, have thriving careers, and are all around wonderfully, delightful, amazing humans!
They come from a different world than me though.
They went to all the right schools, learned all the right skills, have all the right pedigrees.
So when they had their first baby, they hired an expert to show them how to do it.
OF COURSE THEY DID!!!!!
BECAUSE PEOPLE PLAYING AT THE HIGHEST LEVEL HIRE EXPERTS.
When they are out of their depth they bring in an expert, they don’t run around pretending to be one.
(Unless you are Trump and then you claim to be THE expert but well, enough said.)
No, of course they don’t.
They hire the person who can teach them to be proficient, good (or great even), at this one thing they know inside and out.
So my pal said, “I don’t know how to take care of a baby! And even if my partner does it’s not her job to teach me, while learning herself.” So they hired a sweet but fiery wise grandma to live with them for two weeks and teach them the art of keeping a human alive, loved, calm and peaceful.
Ask me if I did that?
BAH HA HA HA HA!!! NOOOOOO!!!!
Of course I didn’t!
I had no clue what I was doing. I cried a lot, I googled everything, and I knocked on my next-door neighbour’s door because she was a nurse so SHE MUST KNOW EVERYTHING!!!
Then I cried more because I hadn’t had the good sense to pursue medicine as a profession to show my future baby I loved it.
I, like most humans, come from a long history of shaming myself for not knowing how to do anything that I’ve never done before while believing that everyone else is superior to me!
BIRTHING, NURSING & GENERAL RAISING CHILDREN INCLUDED.
Why do we do this to people?! To ourselves. To, most specifically, women.
Men are allowed to say, “Uhhh I don’t know what to do with a baby,” while backing away slowly with their hands in the air.
Not women though.
Nope, women are supposed to just KNOW. They’re supposed to have a mothering INSTINCT. It’s supposed to well up inside them. Magically.
(That’s what we call socialization, friends; it’s what makes us feel guilty without even knowing why.)
Sometimes those messages are overt: small minded people loudly, aggressively saying things like “a mother’s place is in the home!” and “don’t you even LOVE your baby?” at the slightest hint of struggle.
Other times it’s the assumption over and over again that every woman everywhere is dying to have children, or what else would they do with their “sad unfulfilled life?”
(NOTE THIS IS REAL LIFE STUFF REPEATED WITH VERY HEAVY SARCASM.)
Or the assumption that everyone wishes they could be a stay at home mom. Or that all your fulfillment should be from your children.
But mostly I think we aren’t doing anyone any favours with the subliminal messaging behind this picture perfect images shown everywhere of scenes of women blissfully nursing their babies… not a scare of mastitis in site.
NOPE no person I have ever met who has fed a baby from their body for the first time has said the first week is anything other than “One of the most painful experiences ever, but…” and then they all have their own wonderfully diverse story about what they did from there.
So my question is:
Where’s the ad for breastfeeding that shows the feeding parent crying, milk leaking, frazzled hair, toes curled from the pain of your baby latching?
Latching “properly” or not who fucking knows, it doesn’t matter because it HURTS EITHER WAY AND ANYONE WHO SAYS IT DOESN’T IS LYING OR HAS NIPPLES MADE OF CARBON FIBRE!
Where are all the shows and movies and instagram posts showing moms and dads doing everything right and their baby just crying anyway?
Because that’s a thing that happens.
And you aren’t a failure because of it, and neither was I.
BUT GOD I WAS CERTAIN I WAS!
How much easier would my first baby’s first year or two have been if I had just known that everyone one else was making it up as they went along too.
That none of us know what we’re doing, because of course we don’t.
(Stay WITH ME HERE)
This past week I just had to go to a class so my 12 year old can go on a school camping trip, WITHOUT ME!
Yes, that’s right, I had more training to send my almost self-sufficient child on a trip for 36 hours without me, where there are plenty of adults trained to do this one thing for a living, than I did when I birthed an infant, and was given her to take home with me 24 hours later.
This system is broken.
The system worked great when we lived in multigenerational homes, where you grew up watching members of our families birth and nurse babies, raising, loving, and caring for your people as they passed through this life.
We don’t live like that anymore. We don’t share these sacred rituals with one another.
The family isn’t a village anymore.
Each family is an island.
An island that’s sure it’s doing it all wrong, filled with fear and shame that someone will know just how imperfect they are.
All while being perfectly perfect.
If we don’t start talking about what’s going on on our islands I worry we are going to miss out on so much.
So much of life, so much happiness, so much experience.
I guess that’s what I’m trying to do here on this little blog of mine— talk about the messy middle of being human, cause we’re all in it and we’re all trying to play it cool like we’re experts at this living thing.