Casey’s summer vacation is winding down, which means Mama and Elden take Southern Oregon is gearing up. Which is a light-hearted way of saying that I’m about to be alone with my tiny human for 50 hours a week. And I’m gonna let you in on a secret that all parents know but few will ever say (until you call them in an utter meltdown and confess your ugliest thoughts and then, and only then, they softly whisper “oh it’s okay, I have thought that too.”) and even fewer will write it down. I’m gonna write it down because dammit I am a truth teller and I’m always trying to convince myself that I am not alone.
You guys, babies are infuriating.
And in case you need to know, the definition of infuriate is: make extremely angry. synonyms: enrage, anger, inflame.
Yep. It’s true. Of course what’s more true is that they are precious and kind and lovable and squishable and beautiful. But that’s for other posts. This post is all about that one trait. The trait that just when you think you actually might be holding a real life angel reminds you that nope, they are very much human. (And actually might be part demon.)
Babies are infuriating. For a number of reasons, mostly because they are human and tiny humans with tiny brains who don’t even yet know (or just learned) that their hands are attached to them. And as much as I like to think that that would be reason enough for me to have an unending supply of compassion and patience with my tiny human, I am learning that shockingly, I am human too. And I run out of compassion and patience.
Ahh, but it doesn’t stop there. Wouldn’t it be nice if it did? Wouldn’t it be so pretty and lovely and sweet if when we ran out of compassion we were able to just softly note “ope, looks like my compassion and patience is gone for the moment/hour/day/lifetime. I better get a glass of water and do a meditation.” Oh that would be so serene.
And fake. (At least for me.)
When my patience is gone and my compassion has left the country, I am the ugliest version of myself; of my humanity. In fact, I might be part demon too. If babies are infuriating and infuriating means to inflame, then guess what I am?
Yep. I am the mama going up in flames.
Have you ever heard religious people talk about “righteous anger”? Like if you’re angry at injustice, it’s okay because its righteous anger?
Okay, well this is not that. This is the epitome of the OPPOSITE of that. To be in flames because of a small human who not only doesn’t know better, but doesn’t even have the capacity to know better — yea it’s not the picture of justice.
Here we are.
Enraged. Throwing things. Extremely angry. Adding the f word to our lullabies.
And the world has such a problem with an angry woman, let alone an enraged mother. So not only are we inflamed, we are in shamed.
We set the baby down in his crib, and walk away. This is what they taught us in newborn care class; this is what the books tell you. This is what other parents jump to when you ask for advice about how you deal with your “slight frustration”? (You have to use watered down versions of words because you don’t need CPS called.)
And that’s where the advice stops. You put the baby down and walk away.
Okay, great. Baby is “safe”. Probably screaming their head off, but they are physically contained in a piece of furniture that oddly resembles a jail cell which is where you fear you might end up if someone knew your thoughts. But I have set him down and I’ve walked away. And now I’m alone with my flames and my shame.
How in the actual hell do I calm down? Would you believe me if I told you that one time I actually stopped, dropped, and rolled because that’s what they taught me to do in second grade if I was ever on fire?
And then I called my mom. Because she’s like the Pope of caring for babies. And since I’m wrought with guilt, I might as well go to confessional.
After a few minutes of her reminding me to breathe, I ask her if she’s ever had these moments. She laughs and emphatically responds “yes! Kids can be INFURIATING.”
Wait, what? The baby whisperer, the Michael Jordan of baby love, thinks kids and babies are infuriating at times?
I guess the Pope is human too.
My mom then told me to make a de-escalation list so I have a go to list of things I can do to help myself get and remain calm. She said that it’s nearly impossible when you are in the moment to come up with ways to calm down. So have it ready.
Here it is, my list for when I
a) want to pull my hair out
b) begin to consider taking Elden to the nearby skate park so the kids skipping class and smoking weed can babysit
c) start packing my bags to move to a remote area (read: luxury spa) to spend the rest of my days in solitude.
or d) start practicing for the punt, pass, and kick competition using my iPhone as the football.
This list is posted on our fridge. One day it will be called the calming list. But for now Elden can’t read so it’s called the ‘calm the f*ck down’ list. I think it has a nice ring to it.
It’s also important to note that Casey contributed to this list because he also gets overwhelmed. But what’s most important to note is that the “do push ups” line is strictly for him. Push ups would piss me off even more. It’s all about knowing yourself, people.
Anger needs oxygen; shame needs light.
Humans need love.
This post is my deep breath. My confession. My turning on the light. My quest for camaraderie.
No one ever told me that babies can be so infuriating. No one ever told me that good mothers can be so enraged.
And yet, here we are.
And yet still so loveable; still so good.
So take a deep breath, mama, and calm the fuck down.