July 18th, 2006

Sunday morning, my partner and I went out to breakfast with our almost 5-month-old baby boy, Aedan. As Sean was teaching Aedan how to play with a straw, I tried to ignore the immediate need to rip the straw from Aedan’s hands and ask Sean what the hell was he thinking he could poke an eye out with that thing and we are terrible parents for even letting our baby look at a straw nevertheless play with it. After seeing the look of not-so-controlled panic on my face, Sean took the straw from Aedan and proceeded to mock what he considers to be my over-protectiveness, and which I merely consider to be protectiveness.

This is a pretty common occurrence in our household these days. Sean does something with Aedan, and I shout after them, “Be sure to wash your hands! Make sure he doesn’t roll off the bed! Don’t feed him so much!” And then Sean proceeds to look at me with a mixture of annoyance, disbelief, and, luckily, humor. What he doesn’t understand is that it has nothing to do with me not trusting him to do everything in his power to protect his son – it has everything to do with me not trusting myself to be a good mom.

It seems like a miracle some days that our son has lived to be almost five months old. Last night I read yet another article about SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome), which has scared the crap out of me since before Aedan was born. It seems like no matter how many things you are doing to protect your baby from it, there are still more things you can do. And even then, it’s not guaranteed your baby will be safe. I don’t know why I continue reading these articles, when they offer no guarantees, other than the fact that I figure the more I know, the better prepared I can at least attempt to be to protect Aedan.

And while some days I feel pretty good about how we’re doing and somewhat confident in my mothering abilities, all it takes is one new thing to poke a hole in my flimsily crafted armor. Just when I think I have the whole caring-for-babies thing down, a new piece is added – feeding baby solid foods, teaching baby with the right developmental toys, making sure baby is safe with bug spray – and the list goes on.

So hopefully someday Sean will realize that I don’t think he’s trying to put our son in danger every time I yell something at him, but I’m just trying to be the best mom I can. Meanwhile, I’ll just have to start saving money for Aedan’s therapy sessions.

  • Bravely Obey

    I don’t have children yet, but I can only imagine how wonderful and challenging it must be. I like to think that I will be a more laid back parent, but I think that is a pipe dream. The fact that you think so much about your parenting skills means that you are automatically a pretty fabulous mom.