“If you got a milkshake and a backrub every time you got up, you’d wake up a lot more often too.” This is one of the many things I appreciate about our pediatrician: her ability to reframe the issue. Even though I don’t think I actually could wake up more than every two hours, coating the trek with sugary-milk and a massage would certainly make me feel better about the whole thing.
Since our “no, Remy’s still not gaining weight” doctor visit on Wednesday, I’ve been thinking a lot about the reframing that I do as a new parent. Remy’s birth experience was not at all what we expected or planned for, but, “he’s wonderful and we’re so glad he’s here.” I’ve already written about how painful our start in breastfeeding was, but, “I’m glad I can feed my baby.” Remy stopped sleeping more than three hours at a time about a month ago, but, “he loves his bedtime ritual and almost always falls asleep on his own.” Every time we think we’ve figured out something, Remy decides to change the rules, but, “parenting is an awesome adventure.” Remy is gaining an abysmal two ounces a week, but, “he’s such a happy baby.”
I’ve discovered that, as a new parent, my husband and I are masters of spin.
I don’t mean to suggest that we pretend like everything is perfect or hide the rough reality from ourselves or those around us. We have plenty of real moments – one of my favorites was when I, exhausted and exasperated, blurted out “breastfeeding sucks!” to friends in the middle of Panera Bread, who immediately caught the unintentional pun and giggled while commiserating with me. There’s also the simple fact that many of our friends have children of their own, and would quickly see past any fairy-dust sparkles.
I also don’t mean to suggest that the spin/sugarcoating/reframing is necessarily bad. On the contrary, the more I think about it, the more I think reframing is essential to retaining sanity while parenting. I will probably never be the mom who gives her son the last oatmeal cookie while declaring that she never liked them anyway. I’m much more likely to open up negotiations for splitting said cookie, or, let’s be honest, eat that cookie quickly before Remy notices it is gone. Even so, I see reframing as fundamentally different than denial. By reframing, I allow myself to focus on the parts of my situation that are true, beautiful, and likely to be lost in the shuffle.
Remy is a happy baby and he is growing. He is learning new things all the time. Today he has been with us for five months, and he can already sit on his own and blow raspberries back at us, and give open mouth kisses. These things are wonderful and my happiness around experiencing them quickly overshadows any anxiety I have about Remy not sleeping or not gaining weight quickly. By reminding myself to reframe our days and nights together, I remind myself how awesome things really are.