Monday, October 27, 2008

the tide

The tide has turned.  Or at least, it's turning.  For the last two weekends, we've had things to do, bonafide social engagements.  One of them was even, gasp, in the evening!  So we left at nine, but on the whole, not super stressful.  Julia was perfect and charming.  She took a bottle from Karissa during a loud dinner party at a strange house.  And from what I could tell, my blood pressure stayed on the normal side.  

And the nanny started last week.  Just 10 hours, but I left the house.  At one point, I let the nanny leave the house with my baby.  Crazy stuff.  But it was fine.  Julia loves Janet.  I didn't freak out, I didn't cry, I didn't call the house every five minutes, even after I was invited by the nanny to do so. The tide is turning.  Or it has turned.

Yesterday, we took Julia to a pumpkin patch, a burger joint, the hell that is Bed, Bath & Beyond on a Sunday, all in one afternoon.  And she was fussy part of the time, slept part of the time, but for the most part was awake and alert, watching the world go by and enjoying her part in it. And we managed to get a new vacuum cleaner.

Is this what happens at five months?  Do things suddenly get less intense?  I feel less trapped, less frantic.  I let other people hold Julia, play with Julia.  She seems to enjoy the attention. She laughs everyday, gorgeous, hearty laughs.  I think that's part of it.  As my daughter becomes more social, or at least, has social responses that I can understand, I grow more confident in my ability to care for her, to make her happy.  It doesn't hurt that she seems to be made of joy.  I think that through her, I can learn about happiness, what it really is. She seems to know, and until now, I had forgotten.

I have a mantra, one I recited to myself throughout my pregnancy, and one I continue to use.  I recommend it to every borderline anxiety disordered person, everyone who is thoroughly convinced from time to time that the sky is falling, everyone who could write their own private collection of worse case scenarios cobbled from cop dramas and snippets of Oprah Winfrey ('kay maybe that one's just me).  

I tell myself, What if everything's actually going to fine?  What if, just what if, everything's fine right now?  What if things are great and things are going to stay great?  Many children grow up never encountering violence, never having had major accidents or illnesses, never having psychological problems, never getting lost, never being victimized.  It's very possible that my child will be one of these children.  It's more possible than any of the hypothetical eventualities that keep me up at night worrying.  So it's not what Oprah or the Dateline people or the people who write warnings on baby equipment would have you believe.  And that's why I'm starting to turn it off now, all the noise, all the warnings, all the latest findings and statistics.  I want to be informed about all the dangers, we all do.  I want to know about the latest SIDS research and product recalls, possible allergens and chemicals in my baby's air, in her food, in her toys.  But at a certain point, I have learned in five months, to turn it off.  I'm learning not to let the overflow of information come between me and my joy. Because it can, it already has.

So the tide has turned, is turning.  It's a daily battle against fear of the unknown, fear of letting go, fear of losing.  And it's worth it, the battle.  The time will pass without my stressing over every moment.  Much better to savor them as they go.