It’s one of the headache-inducing paradoxes of parenthood that you are both wonder-struck and frustrated by the presence of this new person in your life.
So many days I find myself alternately longing to freeze this moment, to savour everything baby about her, and clock-watching, desperate for her bedtime.
I feel guilty even thinking this, let alone writing it. Yet there it is, the reality of where we stand. We sit in the rocking chair tonight. I hold her as her wails fill the room. I don’t know what’s wrong. Everything’s wrong.
Even after she finally drops off to sleep (her father’s doing – she always settles with him) I feel little satisfaction. I eat more than I should and wonder what measure I should use to gauge my parenting.
My frustration – because there is no word that quite describes what I’m experiencing – seems without direction. I suppose it’s mainly at myself. It can’t be with her because I know innately that none of this is her doing. She is crying because something is wrong.
I look at her and ache with love. It’s a love that just can’t be equated with anything. I want her to stop crying not because it’s annoying me and making it impossible to think clearly – though, yes, this is true – but because I cannot bear her unhappiness.
Instead I am disappointed by my own lack of patience. I am angry that even with all the resources available to me – the time, the knowledge, the energy, the support, the love – I still keep coming up short. I still feel like I’m only just coping.
I don’t want her to see this in me.
She’s started crawling properly now. She’s moving forward at surprising speed. As predicted, she’s into everything and I’ve got to keep my eye on her.
Sometimes she crawls to the other room, smiling at me to make sure I’m still there, that I’m still engaged. Then she crawls up to me and tugs at my jeans, fussing if I don’t respond quickly enough.
She’s off to explore it all but I am her safe place.
It’s a miracle that I am someone’s safety when I am racked with uncertainty. It makes no sense that her smile disregards the anxiety eating its way through me.
It’s as if those big eyes in that little face only see a better version of me – the person I hope I’ll become.