Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Try (Less) Hard

Abe is a really cool kid. He was pretty much the perfect baby for his first holiday, Thanksgiving. He decided it was best to show off his skills for fear of the dead bird on the table and how it got there.
After Thanksgiving, my darling son became a monster once again. You know, this tricks me everytime. He will be a smiling angel from God and suddenly, the lord leaves us and we're left once again with the Baby Monster...he chose four of my shirts he hated and spit up on all of them, redecorated the couch, cried out to the government for better work laws for babies loud enough so they could hear him from DC, bitched and moaned about the price of gluten-free bread all day, poked me in the eye, poked himself in the eye, refused all of his toys/chairs/swings/playmats/other ridiculous things that now riddle our living room, and refused to sleep for more than 15 minutes without "checking" to ensure I hadn't gone deaf. I literally punched a pillow at 2am out of pacifier-replacement frustration. 
For most moms, this is just a bad day. But I'm not most moms. I have major problems. A bad day in my brain means there is no tomorrow unless the bad day is first labeled, defined, and treated. Google becomes my best friend; the kind of best friend you hang out with because you've known each other for so long but you secretly hate each other and you never deal with it so you just go on pretending you like each other until one of you dies or moves to another country and it's "too hard" to stay in touch. I start entering things into Google like, "Why is my baby spitting up so much?" and "3 month old has gas" and "baby stomach virus". I then start reading like a heroine user. I find a million reasons why, why not, how come, how many, how long, and how to. I decide Abe has one of 70 babies diseases and/or afflictions and begin panicking about how quickly I can get my hands on the antidote. My husband usually attempts to peel me off of my computer when I start doing this only to hear me snap, "I need to read this." ("Just one more hit.") Finally, when I feel I have come up with a good enough solution as to why my baby is upset or crying, as well as the steps I must take to help him, I can resume worry and anxiety in another part of the house.
Last night, I began this process. I decided that someone had slipped dairy into something I ate over Thanksgiving and Abe was having a reaction. I researched enzymes I could give him and probiotics I should take to help avoid his further discomfort. I read about skin rashes, poop colors, you name it. And finally, I started reading one of my favoriate question-and-answer mom sites. The question yesterday was, and I'm paraphrashing, "When does it get better? I work my ass off reading and researching to ensure I know as much as I can about my baby and this still sucks and she's still screaming." All the moms who answered clearly understood and empathized. But one mom wrote something that caught my attention. She said the best thing for someone like her was to "try less hard." That's right. Try LESS hard. She went on to say that if your baby has a rash, gas, colic, sleep issues, or anything else, it will all eventually go away because it's a baby and that's what happens. I couldn't believe this was advice. I'm his mom, I should be trying my hardest!! And then my husband laughed and said, "You should write it on your bathroom mirror." Really? I should try LESS hard?!
I got a dry-erase marker and wrote it on my mirror and stared. Hmm. Try less hard. How do I even do that?
I decided the best way would be to make a list of things I wanted to accomplish that didn't involve Abe. I started first thing in the morning and I worked on my list all day. In the mean time, I fed, changed, and sang to Abe while he was awake. But I never stopped to Google, stare at the rash on his cheek, or diagram any of his noises or cries. In fact, I even put him in the Swing of Death while I folded the laundry and he didn't cry once. Guess what? He's still alive. And he's fine. I tried LESS hard and he's just the same, and I got to clean the kitchen.
The moral of the story is I'm going to try and stop personalizing my son's moods and/or bad days. It's probably a good idea that I adopt this principle now because if I don't, I will likely need to be medicated by the time he's 16. 


  1. LOVE that!!!!!!! Hopefully this new found strategy will give you back some sanity. Serenity now!!!

  2. Do less, more often. is a favorite of mine.

  3. I LOVE THIS POST!!! I am totally the same way... I desperately want to fix the unknown and probably unknowable problem that Maya has! And then the next week it's gone and another problem has arisen... man, I can't wait until she can TALK ;)! If she would just tell me what was wrong... good luck, Erin! Let me know if you figure it out!