I’ve discovered that none of the child-rearing articles I read mentioned something that ended up being very relevant to me:
It sounds so benign and insignificant, but I really believe that, aside from sleep deprivation, it’s the hardest part about being a new mom.
I feel overwhelmed trying to do it “all,” yet I experience crippling guilt when I find it within myself to take a break.
I feel guilty for being on my phone while feeding Leon instead of blissfully staring at the side of his face. I feel guilty when I take a shower that lasts long enough to shampoo my hair. I feel guilty for all the neglected dog-hair tumbleweeds on the floor. I even feel guilty when Minh is playing with Leon as though I should be participating instead of watching from afar. I feel guilty wondering if I’m cherishing every single moment as much as I should be.
And it’s not like I don’t have help! I’m sure Minh is frustrated that I’m trying to do everything, because he wants and needs some time with Leon too. He understands and tells me how important it is for me to take a break. But while he can play Crusader Kings during his break, I find it difficult to justify doing something unproductive when there are clean dishes in the dishwasher and clothes that have been in the dryer for two days.
The thing is, I actually don’t feel like a terrible mother. I’m doing my best and I know that’s enough for Leon, and I know that Leon needs me to be at my best. I’m just overwhelmed trying to do everything that I feel needs to be done, and I’m awful at knowing what my limit is until I’ve reached it.
And I’m pretty sure 90% of my guilt actually stems from sleep deprivation, but there’s really nothing I can do about that.
But my awful, guilt-ridden day did a complete 180 when I was watching Leon playing with his activity mat tonight and he stopped, looked me in the eyes, and flashed his first huge grin. So there’s that.