Mellow is teething. Right now she’s got three lateral incisors and a molar all coming in at once (the other lateral incisor came in about two weeks ago). She’s a little extra shrieky and clingy, but not a lot. She seems to be handling it pretty well.
And here’s the sad thing I realized: Mellow’s worst days are still better than Wildling’s best days in her babyhood. I sometimes wonder if the reason we wanted to have a second child was so that we could see what it was like to enjoy a baby. Wildling was so difficult, so frustrating, so hard to deal with.
I don’t know how many parents feel the same way I do, because it doesn’t seem to be something we’re allowed to talk about, but I did not like Baby Wildling. I loved her, yes, I loved her madly, if I hadn’t I would have sold her on Craigslist to some unsuspecting person and fled the country before they could ask for a refund. But I did not enjoy her. I felt defeated by her, overwhelmed, unhappy.
It wasn’t post-partum depression. If it had been, I could have sought treatment. No, it was the stress and misery of dealing with an infant who screamed constantly, who needed things to always be a certain way, and who would not accept anyone but me. Sometimes when Will would come home and I would have been holding Wildling all day while all my work piled up around me, he would try to take her and the second she was in his arms she would express her rage until he had to hand her back to me, and she would snuggle close and cry a little, before nursing herself to sleep.
She used up all my energy, physically, mentally, and emotionally. She drained me dry. She drained Will dry. But she was beautiful and aware and so very smart, and she was our special baby who needed us (needed me). I loved her through my exhaustion, but I did not like her.
Mellow is her opposite in so many ways, and I find myself enjoying Baby Mellow. I loved when she would sleep on me as a newborn, because I knew I could also put her down and she would be fine. I loved when she began to be aware of other people, and would gladly be held by anyone. When my mother-in-law comes over to babysit, Mellow will lunge out of my arms towards her with a big grin. If Mellow is sad, she needs a hug, but she doesn’t scream for ten minutes first. Mellow calms down easily, she wakes up happily, she explores the world with a smile on her face. She is so easy, so enjoyable, even on days like today when teeth are erupting through her gums and causing her pain.
I feel a sense of mother’s guilt when I write things like this. I’m not supposed to admit that I didn’t like my baby. I’m not supposed to ever not like my baby. She was innocent, there was no intentionality to her actions. She was just expressing her needs, and I’m not supposed to complain about that.
It’s too bad that it can be such a taboo subject. Some other mothers may read this and think “I know exactly what you mean,” and others may read this and think “You’re a horrible mother, you don’t deserve those kids.” I wish we were able to talk about the dark side of motherhood as much as the light.