I didn’t read many…well, any…baby or parenting books when I was pregnant. People offered up all kinds of literature which I gratefully accepted, and then left sitting on the shelf to collect dust for nine months. I. Just. Couldn’t. I figured that women all over the world have babies every day without reading any books, and besides, The Hunger Games was way more interesting. I had a very easy pregnancy, and I’d get an email once a month from some online everything-about-babies source, and those two paragraphs every month were enough for me.
Of course, then Amira was born and all of that changed. How much should she be eating every day? How much should she be pooping every day? When is she supposed to sleep? In what position? For how long? Should she be sitting up by now? Will flat-head ruin her for life? All these questions, and now that she was here in the world and not just something allegedly growing in my belly, I needed answers.
So I turned to THE BOOK. All new moms (and I’m sure new dads, too) know THE BOOK. What To Expect The First Year. A handy follow-up to What To Expect When You’re Expecting, which, of course, I didn’t read. So I have this kid and I’m going in blind and I need this book to tell me what to do and when and how and really, is it okay if let her cry so I can just have a minute to go to the bathroom already?
And I will admit – for answering questions like that, the book has been great. Yes, it’s okay if she cries for a minute while I go to the bathroom. No, you’re not a bad mother for needing a break. Three simple things you can do to prevent baby flathead. I love the book.
But I also kind of hate the book. At the beginning of every section, there are these lists. By now, your baby should be able to, may be able to, might be able to, may even be able to… all these things that I have to check every month to see if Amira is on track to I don’t even know what. And she hasn’t always done what the book said she would do, when it said she would do it. She hated being on her stomach for months, so she didn’t hold her head up at 90 degrees when the book said. She didn’t roll over when the book said. She didn’t grab my nose or grab her toes or read or write or do complicated calculus when the book said. And Stu’s all, “Don’t worry. She’s FINE!” and I’m all, “But the book says…!!!”
So now I’m this new mom with no clue what to do, and this book that is only making my anxiety worse and I can’t take Xanax because Amira’s still drinking breast milk, and in all the pages of this rather thick book, I think the first chapter should be HOW TO GET THE KID TO SLEEP – AND STAY ASLEEP. That chapter isn’t even IN the book!
So I’ve just decided to put the book down, pick up my kid, and go for a walk. She doesn’t need to measure up to any other kid, and she certainly doesn’t need to measure up to the book. She laughs, she coos, she holds my finger, and she’s happy. I think we’re doing okay, no matter what the book says.