Sunday, January 16, 2011

Who is changing who

This is part of Jen's of "Autism the king and Eye" Blog gems go on over and join in!

~"It is not until you become a mother that your judgement slowly turns to compassion and understanding"~ Erma Bombeck


I think that once a person becomes a parent, they start aging in dog years. For every one year of having a child-the parent ages seven. That would make me roughly 114 years old. Unless of course you age seven years per child-in which case I would be 219. By all rights, I should be collecting social security...or at least living in Florida.

  No doubt about it, having kids changes your life. In an instant. I remember bringing our first baby home from the hospital. We carried him in, placed his seat on the floor and just looked at him. Now what? I had absolutely no clue whatsoever as to what to do with him. You would think that he would have come with some sort of owners manual. There I was with this 8lb. 6oz. ball of need, and I was overwhelmed. I had never really had to take care of anyone other than myself, and I wasn't always very good at that.  My inexperience made me feel as though I was somehow a fraud.   I kept waiting for a representative to show up from the hospital saying "We made a mistake-we'll be taking him back now" I was an irresponsible, self centered and flighty kind of girl. How could anyone possibly entrust me with the care of a baby? How could I possibly do this? What was I thinking?  What was the hospital thinking letting me leave with him?

  I remembered a story that my sister had told me about when she had brought her first child home. She too was overwhelmed by the enormity of the situation.  She had been up all night with her crying baby. She was tired and at her wits end, thinking, "when is this going to end?" At that moment, she realized that it wasn't. That she needed to accept that this was how things were going to be-that this was what her life was about now. That things would change, he would grow up, it would get easier. She needed to accept and move on. She told me that once she had come to this realization-things got better

That is the single most best advice that I was ever given as a mother.

That first year was quite a learning experience for me. I think that I had the cleanest most fed, washed and changed baby on the planet. I sterilized his bottles, his pacifiers, his clothes. If it fell on the floor, it was washed or discarded. If he drooled on his shirt-he was changed immediately. My poor boy had so many baths, we dried his skin out. I was uber-mom, and I was going to do everything right.

Imagine my dismay, when my curly headed chubby boy of baby goodness started to retreat into his own world. His words, his eye contact,...slowly diminished before my eyes. What had I done wrong? What was I doing wrong? Was it the tuna I had eaten during my seventh month of pregnancy? Had some errant germ broken through my barrier of sterilization? I panicked. I was so afraid that this was somehow my fault..that perhaps my greatest fear was reality-I shouldn't have had a child, I was obviously not good enough to be a mother. Oh it was quite the pity party, I should have had it catered...perhaps even hired a band.

  It took us two years to get a firm diagnosis for our son. During that time, I forgot about being the "perfect" mother, I stopped stressing out about clean laundry and sterile bottles. The only thing I cared about was my son-HIM. Not his clothes or his bottles or even his lack of eye contact and language- Him. It was during that time that my sisters advice came back to me. I needed to accept that this was who my son was. That this diagnosis, though helpful in explaining some things, didn't alter anything. I was still his mom-and he, still my son. Nothing in the world can ever change that. Not even dirty dishes. For that I am thankful.  We accepted and we moved on.

I think that, 3 more kids and 10 years later, I finally may be getting the hang of this mothering thing. My house certainly needs cleaning, there is laundry to do, and my 3 year old is chewing on something that I hope is edible. I think that at age 219 (in dog years) I may finally be growing up.


Life in the House That Asperger Built said...

This was great! Thanks for sharing it. I remember the day I brought Coleman home from the hospital. I sat in the wheel chair, and they put him in my arms and moved me into the hall where we waited for Dickson. And I BURST into tears. I'd been in that room with him for like 5 days, and I was in the hospital for 7 days before that. I didn't want to leave! I was SCARED.TO.DEATH. :-)

Poor Dickson, the whole way home, Coleman was screaming in the backseat and I was wailing in the front. "Welcome to fatherhood!" It's funny to look back at that now.

Great post. Thanks for the memories! :-)

kathleen said...

@ life in the house-isn't it great to be able to look back and laugh?! I was terrified too! Funny with my second (and the rest) I was so much more relaxed...Any time I meet a new and overwhelmed mother-I tell her that story...:)

Becca said...

Oh boy, makes me worried to have kids one day. I barely knew what to do with my new dog 2 months ago...a baby is a billion times trickier!!!

Anonymous said...

What a nice post! My parents always told my brothers and me that we kept them young, so that is what I tell my kids too!

autismand said...

When I brought the Other One home from hospital I sat and looked at him waiting for him to 'do' something. No idea what was supposed to happen. When I had BB I was much more relaxed: put the new baby down and make a cup of tea first! (My parenting philosophy ever since LOL)

Looking for Blue Sky said...

Ha ha! Yes 18 years later I still remember bringing Angel home and just looking at her and thinking what next. And I'll bet I was flightier than you!

kathleen said...

@ Becca-You get through just do..but it IS really scary at first. :)
@dswalker-thanks :)
@bbsmum-I'm totally with you on that.I just stared at my first-waiting for something to the time number two came along..I was quite the same way..I put him down and went to drink some coffee...
@looking for blue sky-heehee..I was really REALLY flighty..To this day, I still can not believe that they let me-ME leave the hospital with an infant!! ;0

@jencull (jen) said...

Aaaaargh, I too remember arriving home from the hospital and thinking, well I won't say rude words lol. Thankfully my Mum came to stay for a few days. You know I often think how lucky my eldest is to have actually survived this long!!

I did the whole 'is it my fault' for a while on HRH, not helped by the fact that quite a few people thought it actually was my fault and had no difficulty telling me that. I don't go there as I still get very upset about that and that people wouldn't listen to me or believe me that something wasn't right.

Welcome back to blogging, I have missed you and thanks for the mention/joining in with Blog Gems. Jen

Angela said...

so basically what you are telling me is that when I have kids I can show up on your door step and you will tell me what to do??? LOL!!!

kathleen said...

@Jen-Yeah..I sometimes look at Sam and think-WOW you survived me! :) I absolutely understand and know what you are talking about..feels a bit like being the kid in "The emperors new clothes"..


Stephanie said...

So, does that mean you get to celebrate a birthday every seven and a half weeks? 'Cause that would be cool!

I had my first son right out of highschool, with that parenting class I took during tenth grade somewhat fresh in my mind. I had the books (i.e., baby manuals). I was on top of everything.

And then reality set it.

Maybe it's the "grass is greener" thing, but I wonder if knowing you've got it under control is worse than knowing you don't.

Floortime Lite Mama said...

oh Kathleen darling
I love this

kathleen said...

@Stephanie-that is a brilliant idea!! I just have to figure out how to get everyone else to think so..:) Yes, I do think it is a grass is always greener kind of thing. Thinking about having a baby..preparing for a baby etc. Is WAY different than actually HAVING a was nice to see from all the comments that I wasn't alone in my feeling of.."what do I do now!!" :)

@K-floortime..thanks :)