A Story About Being Human

Rainey is becoming more of a human being than the alien she resembles in her ultrasound picture. Besides her stylish boot-cut jeans and fascination with daytime television, nowhere is this phenomenon more apparent than in her recent sleeping habits.

For the past ten months, I have gone to extreme lengths to get Rainey to fall and stay asleep. I know the “experts” say not to, but sometimes I’m so desperate for a waffle and a little quiet time, that I’ll do anything to keep my sleeping baby, well, sleeping.

Just a few of the painstaking measures I have taken to accomplish this mother-of-all goals include burying the phone beneath a mountain of pillows and couch cushions, hop-scotching across our hardwood floors to avoid the noisy cracks, and refusing to run the bath, flush the toilet, or brush my teeth in an effort to silence the rackety old plumbing. I think Scott’s even starting to think I’ve officially changed his name to “Shh.”

Well, much to my recent surprise, none of these things wakes her up anymore. In fact, rousing her from her slumber is like waking the dead.

Take the other day, for instance. After falling asleep in the car on our way home from running errands – which in and of itself is a miracle because, contrary to the rest of the baby species, Rainey hardly ever sleeps in the car – we pulled into the driveway where we were greeted with a bark-fest from our three hyperactive dogs. Amazingly, she was able to sleep through not only that commotion but also the clumsy task of getting her out of her car seat, the sound of me dropping my keys twice, two slams of the car door, a near wipe out on the ice on our sidewalk, the long walk through our house (squeaky cracks included), the process of taking her coat off, putting her socks back on, and, finally, being laid down in her crib.

And then she proceeded to snooze for at least another hour while I put the groceries away, chatted on the phone with my brother, and brushed my nasty teeth.

To me, this is the meaning of the word trust. Rainey knows she’s safe on my shoulder. It’s where she can find rest and comfort. But I don’t know which is harder: avoiding all the squeaks in our floors or living up to the daunting task of keeping her safe, especially when I’m the one who can do her the most harm.

I have yet to meet another mother who hasn’t felt at some point in her mothering career like she was going crazy. I have to admit that there are times when I want to bite Rainey’s ear, something my dog-sledding friend Sue does to her Huskies when they won’t submit to her as the alpha dog. On some days, particularly the ones when Rainey’s being especially irritating, rage kicks down the door, pulls up a chair in my mind and stays a while, and I can feel seething anger race from the center of my chest to the tips of my fingers and my toes. And if that’s not frightening enough, what really scares the crap out of me is knowing that becoming a mother has brought these horrible, wretched feelings to the surface.

But for a woman who’s sane the majority of the time (even if that means 50.001%), I know when I need to ask for help, and when I need to go hit a few buckets of golf balls at the driving range. I also know there’s a delicate balance between being in control as a parent and being willing to let go of my own agenda. I’m also acutely aware that most days I only see a part of the beautiful picture that’s being painted on the canvas of my life. But the hardest lesson of all, I realize these feelings are sometimes the harsh reality of being human.

So, like Rainey, I find comfort and rest on the shoulders of people I trust – people like Scott and my mom and a handful of extended family and close friends. Because of their love and support, I know I can and will be a wonderful mother for Rainey.

I want her to grow up to have a lot of faith and to be a very gentle person who lives a life full of love and joy and thankfulness, and also someone who always tries to be kind, respectful, compassionate, and generous to everyone. I hope she grows up to be honest and truthful and honorable even when nobody is looking, and someone whose self-esteem is based on knowing that her life has value and worth. I want Rainey to learn how to take responsibility for herself, and also to know the secret of being content in every situation. I want Rainey to be the kind of person who makes every effort to do what leads to peace and justice and fairness, and who gives from a heart overflowing with hope and hopefulness.

But most of all, I want Rainey to know that it’s okay to be human.

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