Let’s get real about motherhood for a sec.

My son is six weeks old. Yesterday was filled with bouts of red-in-the-face crying. No food, cuddle, swing, pacifier, or yoga ball bounce (usually a sure-fire thing) could soothe his woes. At times like this, my heart will rage in my chest, wanting nothing more than to smooth away his discomforts, his worries, his fears. As the hours are swallowed up by his cries, I will realize it is already 11:30 am and I haven’t yet brushed my teeth, have not fed the chickens, have not paid that hospital bill.

Not every day is like this. Some days he will nap for a couple hours at a time, allowing what now feels like ample time to catch up on some to-dos and maybe even squeeze in some writing. But everyday is a balancing act, every spare moment a choice between self-hygiene and self-care nestled between the needs of the day: baby laundry, my laundry, dishes, feeding myself, staying hydrated, paying another hospital bill, voting in the polarizing 2020 election, and on and on. There have been mornings (in the wee hours) when I have ugly-cried into my guilt for wanting personal time, but followed it up with a laugh-cry because he just did that oh so cute sleepy stretch-cuddle and I couldn’t imagine spending my time doing anything but hold him, feed him, soothe him, and love him.

There have been and will be days when I will not get a single minute with pen and paper or keyboard. Some days when all I can do is mother him. And that’s okay. It is easy to feel like I’m falling behind, like I can never do enough or be enough. But on days like these, I have trust that my mind is still doing the slow, steady work of sorting through words and stories I have yet to find.

Yesterday, when he was finally tired of crying, I pulled him, red and rigid, to my chest and he collapsed in a heap in my arms. He nestled his head up under my chin and fell slowly to sleep, his tired coos guiding the way. And, because I needed the cuddles just as much as he did, I held him there, just like that, until dinnertime. And that was enough.

Audrey Martin

Writer. Engineer. Spouse. Mother. Join me for musings on writing-life balance over a cup of tea. Or two.

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2 Responses

  1. Janet Crum says:

    This post brought back memories. My son was colicky–think 4-hour crying jags every afternoon. I just about lost my mind. Finally I hit on a partial solution: music. Not soothing lullabies or Mozart or any of that stuff they tell you to play for babies. All that just made him cry harder. What worked? Anything with a beat, especially disco. Especially-especially KC and the Sunshine Band. I still can’t listen to I’m Your Boogyman without remembering walking the floor with a screaming baby, sometimes at 3 AM. Parenthood is so, so hard. Any day when you can shower *and* do the dishes is a win.

    • Audrey Martin says:

      I love that disco was what worked for you! Daddy’s singing voice has definitely been magical for our little man. But yes, some days we just have to take it minute by minute, second by second. Because that’s how fast we can go from smiley giggly baby to red in the face crying baby…

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