I am literally in the middle of sequining a would-be Christmas cushion because I said I would and Christmas is next week, but I just had to drop by here to say that Ashton Kutcher made me feel real bad the other day.
The first is to an interview with Ashton Kutcher where he talks about new parenthood and his wife Mila Kunis: “She’s the greatest mom. I go to work every day, and I come home and she’s perfect.” Sans nanny, by the way. While everything may not go amazing during the day for her, she never acts otherwise or complains.
Dramatic cut to me 9 months ago, walking around broken, with a tinge of insanity about my eyes, regularly losing it with my husband because I was just too stressed and he was stressed that I was stressed, and we were oh so tired tired tired and arguing about the baby and about nothing. It was hard. It was hard and there was no way that I could have disguised it, even if I’d wanted to. Being perfect when my husband came home would have been a laughable notion back then.
I know that some new parents cope amazingly, right off the blocks. Day two, and you’re on your feet cooking yourself lunch with your hair brushed and taking a shower at the appropriate time and serenely breastfeeding and sleeping while the baby sleeps. Ralph and I were not those parents. It was like being catapulted suddenly into outer space – it was disorienting and scary and we were each on separate orbits, unable to hear each other in the black vacuum.
All I can remember is having tunnel vision – focusing all my strength on taking each moment at a time, and managing each little crisis as and when it fell. Each nap, each pumping session, each colicky episode. Each day, I worked on just surviving.
So yeah, not Mila Kunis perfect. And I feel bad that I didn’t even get close to Mila Kunis perfect, even though I know that there was nothing I could have done differently, those first few months. I just feel… chastised? Embarrassed? That I wasn’t just somehow magically and naturally better at this. Despite myself, I can’t help comparing, and my pride is hurt.
But then, there’s the other article. And it makes me feel a little better that I have company at the bottom. Totally apart from the issue of making mom friends (not a problem for me because all my friends are in fact moms) – I feel consoled remembering that there are many of us who struggled in the early months. Because there are. Many of us who screamed at our babies, and then cried because who screams at their babies? Many of us who teetered on the edge of depression and despair, every day. Many of us who couldn’t cope with five hours of broken sleep, night after relentless night. Mistakes were made, loneliness was felt, frustrations were taken out on people who didn’t deserve it.
So kudos to the born-to-be moms. Honestly, with all my heart, I am in awe. I have no idea how you do it, but you are doing it and killing it.
To the rest of us imperfect moms: take heart, I think we will make it. A little slow at the start perhaps, and a little awkward, but there’s a lifetime of time to catch up and we are well on our way.