New moms learn pretty quickly that everyone else knows what to do better than you, and they are not afraid to tell you. To breastfeed or to bottle-feed? To cry it out or to comfort? To co-sleep or crib sleep? To vaccinate or (gasp!) to not. And the perhaps the most highly judged question of them all: To go back to work or to stay at home.
Even moms that don’t have a choice wonder if they’ve made the right decision. The thing no one tells you is, it’s a lose/lose situation. Does that make you feel better? No? Maybe this will:
The fact is, no matter how prepared a new mother may be for baby: (pinterest-worthy nursery, tiny diapers in neatly stacked piles, washed and folded onesies, hospital bag full of essentials like chocolate bars and gossip magazines) nothing can mentally prepare us for the change to come. It’s more than the sleepless nights that people warn about. College had sleepless nights and we survived just fine, thank you.
It’s this: When you become a mother, life as you know it is over. Not in a horrible way, more in a caterpillar into a butterfly kind of thing. Or more honestly, caterpillar into moth. (Butterfly would imply daily showers and ample time for makeup application.) However you picture it, what I mean is this: when you become a mother you change forever. And there’s no going back.
Here’s what I’ve learned. When my first child was 4 months old I quit my job as a copywriter at a prestigous New York City advertising agency so I wouldn’t miss a minute. Seven years later, and I’ve had millions of minutes. Loving minutes. Screaming minutes. Hour-long minutes. First-smile minutes. Sick minutes. Sleepless minutes. Proud minutes. Lock myself in the bathroom with a glass of wine minutes.
And what I miss is: work.
Source: My daughter needed glasses, I needed a new perspective – The Washington Post
“I don’t want to change how I look! I want to be me forever!” Round tears magnified her big, blue eyes. “Promise you won’t make me wear glasses,” she sobbed into my chest. It was bedtime and we had recently returned from an eye appointment that had not gone as my 4-year-old daughter (nor I) had planned.
I knew that trying to explain to my daughter that wearing glasses would not change her would be as difficult as convincing her that unicorns are not real. In my daughter’s 4-year-old mind, if you strap a horn on a horse it becomes magical; and if you put glasses on a girl she becomes unfamiliar. I wasn’t thrilled at the idea of her bright eyes trapped behind circles of glass, either. So instead of explaining that she will still be herself, I tried to comfort both of us: “I bet there are tons of awesome pink pairs! It’s just like jewelry! You love jewelry! You’ll look so cute!”
“I don’t want to be cute! I want to look like me!” And with that I was silenced. I just hugged her tightly and told her she wasn’t silly to feel the way she felt.
I did understand why it was a big deal for her. But what I couldn’t understand was why it was hard for me, too. After all, her older brother started wearing glasses when he was 5. With him, I went through a brief panic: Would other kids make fun of him? Would he become shy and insecure? But that quickly changed. He was hipster smooth in his frames. As it turned out, he would sleep in his glasses if he could, he loved them so much.
My son rallied to cheer her up. “Taylor Swift sometimes wears glasses!” he told her, but she stayed firmly in the negative. We Googled “Princesses in Glasses” and image after photo shopped image appeared: Elsa, Arielle, Cinderella…all wearing chic frames. My daughter was not fooled. And neither was I. Not one princess really wore glasses and these princesses were not bespectacled while they danced in their beautiful gowns, escaped murderous witches, or found their fairy tale prince. They didn’t have to wear glasses while practicing pirouettes in ballet class, painting rainbows in junior kindergarten, or playing Barbies with friends. But my daughter would.
After taking to Google, I noticed a significant double standard. No wonder I was having a harder time adjusting to my daughter needing glasses than I did with my son. Many fictional boys’ role models wore glasses: Superman (Clark Kent), Cyclops, and Harry Potter to name a few. But I couldn’t find one fictional female in my daughter’s repertoire. (Except apparently Belle in one scene. I did my research.)
But we can’t live in a fantasy world all the time, and my girl and I needed to face reality, whether we liked the story line or not. So off we went on the quest for the perfect frames.
“She can wear contacts when she’s 9,” the optometrist told me as my daughter batted off pair after pair while pouting, scowling, and doing her general best to be very un-cute. We came home empty handed.
That night putting her to bed I tried a different approach. Princesses aren’t everything, after all. I opened a new book about an adorable, talented young artist who wore glasses. I had her cover her left eye. “What letter do you see?”
“It’s too blurry,” she told me. “But it doesn’t matter because I can see perfectly with both eyes open.”
“’To be an artist, you have to notice everything,’ says Louise,” I read. I turned to my daughter: “Her glasses help her see the world so she can draw beautiful pictures. Just like yours will help you.” When I finished the book, turned off the lights and snuggled close, she said to me, “You can get me glasses, but I’m not going to wear them. If I change my mind, I’m allowed to. But I get to decide.”
Though it may have appeared defiant, I knew this was a breakthrough. I told her I understood. If she believed glasses changed who you were, then she needed to feel like she had control. I needed to guide her toward a pair that she felt confident wearing.
A few days later we tried another optometrist office specializing in kids’ glasses. Frame after child-sized frame covered every inch of wall space. She sat down in front of the little desk mirror.
The woman helping us set down a huge heap of pink, purple, and sparkly frames. “What do you think of these?” she’d ask before placing each pair on my girl’s little face. If she shook her head no, we set them aside. There was no doubt about it: She was in charge. Finally, she found a pair that was just right: square and hipster-ish like her big brother’s, but in a light purple color that brought out the vibrant blue in her eyes.
A week later we returned to pick them up.
My daughter put them on herself. Her big eyes got bigger. Her pink mouth gaped open. She scanned the room for what seemed like the first time ever. “I can see everything!” she gasped. And as if it were a circus trick she kept slipping the glasses down her nose to measure the “before and after” difference.
She wore them the whole way home. She wore them while she ate her macaroni and cheese. And she gently set them down beside her bed when she went to sleep. Still, I wasn’t sure how the next morning would go: Would she want to wear them to school? Would she put up a fight? Would she be scared? Shy? Nervous? As she slept, I drafted an email to her teacher, telling her it would be my daughter’s first day wearing glasses. Please, I asked, can you make sure everyone is kind about it? Please make her feel comfortable. And please, whatever you do, don’t say she looks “cute.” She definitely does not want to be cute.
But it turns out I was nervous for nothing. In the morning I found her snuggled with her brother on the couch, drinking a smoothie, watching Wild Kratts. Wearing her glasses. “Did you put them on her?” I asked my husband. “No,” he replied. “She had them on when I got her out of bed in the morning.” After school, she got in the car and announced, “Everyone liked my glasses. And nothing was blurry.”
Maybe she had it right all along: Glasses actually did change who she was. As my girl wore those pretty purple frames she held her head a little higher, her eyes twinkled a little brighter, and she pointed out all the fine details she could now see.
After all, if a horse only needs to attach a horn to become a unicorn, then all a little girl needs to do to see the magical world around her, is to put on her glasses.
Sara Stillman Berger is a writer and mother based in Chicago.
Original Article was published January 15, 2016 in the Washington Post
I hate waiting. Obviously, that’s not very profound. No one likes waiting, except maybe criminals on Death Row, and even then I can only assume.
My guess is some people are better at waiting than others. I fall into the “others” category. Currently I’m waiting to hear whether an essay I submitted will be published. All I have in my in-box so far is an auto-response saying it could take up to two months. In other words, twice the lifetime of an average housefly. (They live four weeks, in case math is troublesome to you. Also, I just learned this. Also, this makes me feel a little better about swatting the shit out of them.)
So obviously I’m checking my email every five minutes. Actually, three minutes. But I don’t want to sound too crazy. Because that means I’ll check my email roughly 16,800 times before I’m likely to hear anything at all. And that accounts for time spent sleeping. I checked my email twice since writing this. I need help.
Do you make New Year’s resolutions? I do. But usually they last as long as my New Year’s Eve spray tan. 2016 is going to be different though. I know because I didn’t even tan this year. Also, I promised to start writing again, and look! The Washington Post thinks it’s a great idea. Validation wins. Check out my essay about my four-year-old daughter needing glasses:
Let’s hope writing isn’t like riding a bike. Because last time I rode after a long hiatus, it was down a mountain in Chiang Mai. I ended up flipping over the handle bars, landing in a muddy “river” and getting chauffeured down the rest of the way while I marveled at my purpling thigh. So yea, I’m hoping getting back into writing goes smoother than that. Luckily it only requires key pads, not knee pads.
So join me on this new journey (no helmet needed) as I foray back into my greatest love: writing. I used to actually make real money doing this, after all!