Bye-bye, Baby on Board
OK, first things first: This is my last ever Baby on Board column!
How bittersweet it is to leave behind the world of tiny little babies and all those milestones: The first smile! The first night of uninterrupted sleep! The first time you change a diaper right there in Row 22, Seat C, because the flight attendant won’t let you into the bathroom!
On a recent Friday afternoon, I was hanging out with Jen Wittes, Minnesota Parent’s Toddler Time columnist extraordinaire.
“I totally don’t ‘get’ babies at all,” I confessed. “Who do I think I am, writing the baby column for Minnesota Parent?”
So Jen and I talked about the possibility of swapping columns for a month: I’d write about toddlers, because I’m living the toddler life right now, and Jen would write about babies, because she knows a lot about them, thanks in part to her experience as a postpartum doula.
We debated whether Sarah (Jackson, our editor) would think this — or even a permanent column swap — was a “cool” idea or just crazy.
Luckily for us, Sarah said she actually liked the idea!
Now that I’m “leaving,” it’s probably time for a confession: The baby stage didn’t come naturally to me. For one thing, I couldn’t get childbirth right (a C-sectioned breech baby, followed by a majorly traumatic vacuum-extracted VBAC).
I failed at my holy duty of exclusive breastfeeding (and even got shamed for it from a reader when I wrote about my struggles here). I spiraled into postpartum depression. I failed to “build a village.”
Just look through my archived columns for a laundry list of my shortcomings.
Of course, I’m being somewhat facetious. I’m actually grateful for these struggles (most of the time) because I think they’ve knocked some sense into me.
The bar has seriously been lowered when it comes to parenting one-upmanship. I can’t compete and so I don’t. It’s liberating!
But I worry my perspective might be a bit of a bummer to other — perhaps more well-adjusted — new parents.
“You tell it like it is!” said one of my friends who generously reads my column.
Yes, I did strive for honesty in what I wrote here. For example, I wrote about feeling invisible after becoming a mother, and was surprised to hear from lots of other women who felt the same sense of loneliness and loss of self.
But is this the kind of stuff a vulnerable new mother really needs to hear? Sometimes I’m not so sure. (In other words, I’m sorry if I’ve traumatized you!)
Perhaps it’s time you heard from a new voice — someone who took to the baby stage with ease, someone who’s worked as a postpartum doula. (I’m talking about Jen Wittes, if that’s not obvious.)
Disorder is fun!
Right now, it also makes sense for me to write about toddlers because I have them under my roof right this very minute.
Yep, I’m living the toddler dream as we speak. Do I understand them? Of course not! (Does anyone?)
All I know is that the levels of absurdity in our house have skyrocketed. A day doesn’t go by without at least one child scream-crying over something — say, when my husband walks upstairs to get the sunblock, and they didn’t get to "see it" (his exit and re-entry). Huh?
Toddlers are perplexing, and I love it. Come join me next month as I start to explore their weird little worlds.
Shannon Keough lives in Minneapolis with her husband and two children. Send questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.