I want to be able to do regular things. Like wash the breakfast dishes before noon. Or put on clothes. Or brush my teeth. Or dress my child. Or change her diaper. Or chop some onions for dinner. But these things, lately, have elicited such fervent protest, such maddening shouts, such heartbreaking tears, such hurtful looks accusing me of the greatest of betrayals, that I feel completely and utterly incapable. No, I don’t really feel incapable. I just feel like I don’t know.
I need to take a shower so I give my girl the iPad. (But no screen time for babies under two. It will rot her brain. She won’t develop normally.) But I’m dirty, it's been three days.
I need to put my girl down and drain the spaghetti and take the squash out of the oven. She screams, prone on the kitchen floor, face covered in snot. (But don’t let your baby cry. It harms her self-esteem. It breaks her trust.) But this is hot. It’s dangerous.
I just need five minutes to think. I need to write a grocery list. I need a moment of not being touched. (She craves your attention. You need to spend more time with her.) But I’m with my girl all day.
I need to do something. I need to vacuum. Or dust. Or pick up toys. Or make lunch. And she wants milkies. Again. Every twenty minutes. All day long. (Don’t offer, don’t refuse, that’s the right way to wean.) But if I didn’t refuse, we’d never eat lunch. The bathrooms would never be clean.
I need a good night’s sleep. She has black rings around her eyes. She’s tired. (Crying it out causes brain damage. And attachment disorder. And babies don’t cry unless they need something. You must pick her up.) She needs a nap.
I read the books and visit the websites and everyone seems to know what not to do and how I’m harming my relationship with my child and how they’re an infinitely better parent than I am and if I only tired this or abandoned that it would all fall into place. You’re dooin it rong. But none of it makes sense. None of it works. They don’t tell you what to do when changing a diaper causes twenty minutes of inconsolable sobbing.
So I hold her. She arches her back, tiny firsts push my chest away. Still, I hug her close and tell her, “You’re angry, arn’t you?” I feel guilty.
But I still need to take a shower and chop some onions for dinner.