I have a hypothesis: When a woman births a baby, her brain splits into two parts: One part is dedicated to pondering lots of big questions about parenthood. How will we raise Hadley not to be consumed with her own happiness in a world that teaches us that as long as something makes us happy, it must be good? I think about this about 20 hours a day. The other half of a mommy's brain is dedicated to the mundane but important details of daily life: When did Hadley last eat? How much did she eat? Come to think of it, when did she last poop? Should I call the doctor about [insert newest weird thing]? I think about these things about 22 hours a day. So see? The only logical explanation is that I'm now running on two mini-brains instead of one full-sized brain. (Coincidentally, this theory also fits in nicely with my newfound lack of memory. Seriously. Why else can't I remember anything?)
And the best thing about mommy blogs is that they show me that I'm not alone in this two-mindedness. For every BIG thought, there are about three daily issues that are immediate and consuming.
For example, I like Ask Moxie because Moxie is f-u-n-n-y, so she attracts other funny moms who comment on her blogs. But she manages to maintain an undercurrent of sincerity, so I can laugh and also feel like it's okay to wonder how in the world I'm going to accomplish all of my personal goals while being totally present for Hadley and being an active participant in my marriage and maintaining and building friendships and serving my community and...
[And she writes such things as, "Babies are weird." And she's right! Babies ARE weird, but if you say that out loud in the wrong crowd, you get strange looks. We're supposed to say that babies are cute and sweet and good-smelling. And they are! But they are also weird.]
On Wednesdays, Moxie posts her "Primal Scream," a (hilarious) accounting of the stuff that adds up and makes a mom feel overwhelmed--and not in the good I'm-amazed-by-being-a-mom kind of way. And then other moms post their own primal screams, which include most recently a three-year-old who refuses to poop; an 18-month-old who only eats raisins, yogurt and hummus; lots of moms whose husbands are gone on business trips; first-trimester pregnancy symptoms that prompted one mom to sit on the freezer case at the grocery store to rest; and a 10-year waiting list to get a parking spot at work. And then there are other posts--a son diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome; job loss; depression and anxiety--that make me wish I could invite these other moms to my house for tea and banana bread and a good, long cry.
And I realize: Being a parent is an amazing personal experience with universal challenges. Nobody else in the world knows what it's like to be Hadley's mom, but lots of other moms can relate to the sinking feeling that comes from pulling Hadley out of her car seat at the grocery store only to realize that I'm going to have to strip her down, change her diaper and find clean clothes at the bottom of the diaper bag. Nobody else knows what it's like to walk into the house after a day of work and see Hadley grin, but lots of moms know what it's like to anticipate and ache for the minute the work day ends.
So here's to Moxie and all of the funny moms who aren't too pious or self-important or proud to admit that being a mom is hard--and funny and heartbreaking and joyous. And here's to our half-brained selves, doing the best we can and trying to laugh along the way.
And now, for a few out-takes from our Christmas card photo shoot: