I’m generally pretty patient and understanding with myself. I’m human, you know? Just a frizzy-haired, doing-her-best human.
But for the last seven years, friends, I’ve been carrying around some serious mom guilt — a heavy sack that has lightened with time, but still weighs on me with the disappointing knowledge that I . . . I . . .
I never read any pregnancy or child-rearing books.
Newly pregnant with my son Oliver in 2014, I remember walking into a bookstore intent on purchasing “What to Expect When You’re Expecting.” I was so excited about this rite of passage that I’d even wrapped up my second breakfast (or was it third?) quickly so I’d have more time to browse on my lunch break.
Copy in hand, I was ready to be enlightened on the journey ahead. I’d learn everything I possibly could and be so totally ready for childbirth! Then I’d move on to the “first year” books for newborns. I’d be calm and knowledgeable. It would be fine! All fine!
That lasted all of 30 seconds. A minute, max. Because as soon as I started skimming the pregnancy guide, the details — and birth-y buzzwords — made me sweaty. I looked up themes in the massive index, thinking that would be less overwhelming than the endless maw of the internet, but my heart was pounding.
It was too much. Completely overwhelming. I didn’t know everything I didn’t know… until I did. And for perhaps the first time ever, I left a bookstore empty-handed.
Of course, I soon realized childbirth was just the beginning; we’re expected to raise an actual human being next. Looking through a gifted copy of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ “Caring For Your Baby and Young Child” was enough to make me question whether I was capable of peeling a banana independently.
There was just so much to worry about! So much that could go wrong! Crushed by hormones, I remember turning to my husband in tears. “What happens if an eyelash gets in their eye?” I sputtered. “How will we even know?”
I don’t know if “eyelash injuries” are covered in the academy’s tome, but we have 935 pages of opportunity there.
In my defense, even if I had devoured the books, there’s so much about parenthood that’s impossible to understand before sliding into the trenches. Those trenches, for example? They’re loud.
Those are the times I think maybe I should have studied up more for this parenting gig — encased in those baby books could have been the magical key to volume control!
Sometimes I wonder if my children were born with an extra set of vocal cords. Surely, there is a biological reason for why my 6- and 4-year-old are inadvertently imitating WWE announcers at 6 a.m. The best is when they accuse the other of “talking over” them, thus requiring both Hadley and Oliver to carry on two shouted conversations simultaneously. Add in whatever “Hamilton” tune I was listening to and whip for a frothy mommy meltdown.
Those are the times I think, you know, maybe I should have studied up more for this parenting gig — only the most important job of my lifetime. And encased in those baby books could have been the magical key to volume control! How would I even know?
I still have the book . . . you know, just in case. So if you need me, I’ll be checking the index for “inside voices.”Probably covered right around eyelashes.