So obviously I've been putting together a monthly recap of what Avery gets up to, which have been going up in a somewhat haphazard fashion. The purpose is mostly to chronicle the amazingly fast changes that occur with a really little munchkin (don't worry, they will be sixmonthly from age one). While it didn't seem like I would ever forget what he was like at that age when I wrote his one-month summary, I can't remember a thing from back then without prompting so I'm damn glad I started doing it.
This, on the other hand, is inspired by Blue Milk's always insightful posts about what her and Mr Milk enjoy most/least about their children as they grow. There is a big difference between the achievements and highlights of a particular stage, and what you feel about the process as a parent. I admire the honesty it takes to talk about the good and the bad, and I like the balance that this approach offers. So in that spirit, I want to do my own list of the high points and low points of being Avery's mother. Not his highs and lows, mine. Sometimes those things have nothing to do with him as a person, other times they are directly related to who he is and how we relate. So, here is my first installment.
Highs of parenting: 6 months
- the first six months have been so much smoother than I imagined. My own energy, focus and ability is so much more than I imagined it could be. It's like my pregnancy rebooted my whole body, and I feel better than I have in years
- I didn't fall in love with Avery at first sight, I fell in love in a gradual way, and it feels like that is still changing and growing all the time
- I'm so proud of how patient I can be when I need to. I was genuinely worried about this, and while I have my moments, most of the time I can draw on a calm-ness I really didn't know I would have to get through the tough bits
- How good it feels when we get to a point where our parenting is shared relatively equally (as it can be when one of you is breastfeeding). How all the negotiation feels worthwhile and we both reap the huge benefits of this
- Getting to know my little person. He is starting to show hints of who he might grow up to be, and it's so exciting
Lows of parenting: 6 months
- I didn't realise that the struggle to keep Ave free from being gendered in a myriad of ways would start almost straight away. Which has made me face the fact that I find it difficult to stand up for my politics in vocal ways when I know it will make waves. I need to work on this.
- I hate that I was able to take care of my body when it was Avery's home, but now I'm slipping back to old unhealthy habits. My lack of respect for my own health and body is tied strongly to my own self-esteem and I need to deal with it.
- The afternoons, when I wonder how I will last until Himself makes it home, and I'm desperate to to get away from my child.
- The constant negotiation it takes to try to achieve this shared parenting. I feel constantly on watch, and just when we seem to have one thing right we find another area where we are failing. Sometimes it feels like it would just be easier to give in and go with the easy option.
- I'm irritated that I've fallen back into the habit of having the television on in the background. Ave is riveted by it, which annoys me even more, and I'd rather it wasn't a daily part of our lives.
- I wish I could be one of those women who doesn't notice the sideways looks and the unwanted advice. Being a parent, no, being a mother, is being constantly judged. I try not to let other people influence what I do, but I still feel the anxiety of being assessed. It's uncomfortable and I want to let go but don't know how.
- I hate that my family relationships are so complicated, and that this has taken away from the pure joy of having this little person in my life. I'm bitter, angry and most of all hurt. There are so many times when we, as a family, have to compromise what we want to do, or how we approach things because of these complications, and it's just not fair. I feel like sometimes I'm almost hiding you away because I want to shelter you from these complications, when I should be able to share you with your whole extended family and having nothing but happiness about it.
- Some days breastfeeding is just not fun. I feel like the constant schedule of feeding and/or pumping is endless drudge and I just want to escape it.
Top 5 things about Avery at 6 months
- There is nothing sweeter than your little man smile and your old man chuckle
- You're becoming more aware of me as a person, and you show genuine affection for me as something more than just a milk bottle (finally)
- You already joke with me, and you delight in being able to make me or your dad laugh
- I'm so proud of how laid back you are. Stress, tension and social anxiety are such a huge part of my existence and seeing you so comfortable with other people, let alone how much you like to interact and smile and make friends wherever you go is awesome
- The way you read along with me or your dad, making sounds along with us and responding to the story. Or just the fact that you already love books.
Low 5 things about Avery at 6 months
- Your resistance to day-time sleep. You clearly need it, but you just won't settle and you fight it so hard every time.
- The way you treat tummy time like it is a form of torture that you are being submitted to.
- Your sudden refusal to take a bottle of expressed milk. It used to be fine, but now apparently it's just not good enough, which is driving me insane as it means I have even less freedom.
- Watching your mood swings and your meltdowns, worrying that the medication I take for depression is effecting your brain chemistry.
- How unpredictable your breastfeeding needs are. Just when I think we've got it figured out you want a lot more, or a lot less, and I can't settle into a routine with you.