It took me a while to find my rhythm as a mom. Much more than a few weeks, which (if I’m being honest) was a bit longer than I expected. Babies don’t come into this world with operating instructions taped to their backs, and even if they did, I’m sure they’d be as unintelligible as the instructions that came with my ikea bookshelf.
You realize, during those first few weeks of parenthood, that the baby you brought home from the hospital is not some sort of blank canvas on which your parenting skills will hopefully paint the portrait of a decent human being. “No, that would be too easy,” God says, most definitely chuckling at my ignorance. No, this little baby comes into the world a portrait already painted, and it’s your job to help her find a spot in the room where the sunlight from the window won’t make her colors fade. Her place, so to speak, in this world.
And that’s a hell of a lot of pressure. Especially when that beautiful portrait is red-faced and wailing at you from her crib.
(Don’t let these pictures fool you. Girl’s got some pipes.)
Olivia’s favorite book for the past few weeks has been Giraffe’s Can’t Dance, the story of poor Gerald the giraffe who, after being chastised for his inability to dance like the jungle’s other (surprisingly rhythmic) animals, is finally able to find joy and confidence in his own unique dance moves.
And when you read a book over and over and over, particularly one that rhymes, the story and the words and that stupid giraffe move into your mind without asking, sleeping on your couch and dumping their message all over your living room floor. Maybe it’s been my lack of sleep, or my post-pregnancy hormone fluctuations, but with each reading I’ve found myself identifying with Gerald and his need for self-confidence. This motherhood thing is tough business. Sometimes I find myself staring at my feet, dumbfounded; other times, I’m frustratingly trying to mimic the choreography of others. But if Gerald the clumsy giraffe could be confident in his own steps, then so can I. And hopefully so can this baby girl sitting on my lap, bobbling her head over each colorful page. Life is so much better when you just lift up your head and dance.
So to all of you mommas, old and new, keep up the good and hard work. And read one of your favorite children’s books, if you find yourself with some of that precious thing called “free time.” Could be worth your while. 😉