The first few months of parenting should only be graded on a pass/fail basis.
Is everyone alive by nightfall? Congratulations. You passed.
For a while, the fact that Bobby was fed, clean and breathing was my only validation. “Is he happy?” I wondered. “Does he feel safe? Does he know who I am and how much I love him?” These concepts are unfortunately too nuanced for a newborn grading rubric.
But at three months something amazing happened. On Christmas morning as we changed Bobby into his festive pajamas, he let out a soft but distinct giggle.
“Ha-whooo” he chirped, smiling up at the family around him.
My daily goal became making Bobby laugh. Grunt like a monkey? No problem. Pant like a dog? You got it. Recreate the sensation of flight while singing the Superman theme song? Up, up and away!
Then last week we graduated to a new, exciting level. For the first time ever, my son saw me.
We stretched out on my bed facing one another. He pushed his little palm against mine and marveled at how our hands looked together. Then he gazed into my eyes and smiled. Like two acquaintances sharing their first profound conversation, I could feel us forming an even deeper friendship.
Sure, my definition of a good day has changed. It's not great when Bobby takes a giant crap on my new pants --- but it can still be a great day. He'll look up at me with those big, beautiful eyes; smile with the recognition that I'm his mommy and suddenly I'm whole again.
This plus the 'poop curve' work out to about a B.
If perfection is a drug, motherhood is cold-turkey rehab. Throughout my recovery, I've discovered it's possible (for the first time in my life) to embrace the small joys amidst the chaos. I've developed a tolerance for those C- days and it's honestly one of the greatest gifts motherhood has given me.
As Don Henley once wrote "all the things I thought I knew, I'm learning again." In a lot of ways, every day of parenthood is like the first day of school: humbling, inherently vulnerable and challenging to any and all preconceived expectations. But even if Will and I don't make the grade every single day, ultimately I know we'll pass with flying colors.