I originally heard the about the concept of the fourth trimester in relation to the first 6 weeks of life, but I've since heard it said about the first twelve weeks. I think it's an improvement on a great idea.
So Wil is now finished his fourth trimester and although there isn't much I can point to that marks the milestone, I have to say it feels very much like we're in a new phase. He's definitely more out there than in here.
I hesitate to say anything too positive for fear of jinxing myself, but I feel pretty good about where we're at. Two days this week Wil and I have set out into the big wide world armed only with tram tickets and baby bjorn and a handbag of emergency supplies.
We've had lunch in town where the grown up people are, attended workshops with strangers, breastfed perched on seats without cushions and changed nappies in public change rooms. Both times we've made it home alive.
And we went to kinder with Amy where we were witness to songs and afternoon tea and given gifts with cards which made us (OK, only me) laugh out loud and almost cry with pride (I love you because you tell me the truth, the best thing about you is that you wear pants and I like pants...)
And I looked at Wil and announced he needed to go to bed and D expressed surprise, but I wrapped him up and sure enough off he drifted without complaint.
And hot damn if I haven't felt, for a few moments at least here and there, like a real life bona fide mother. Not in that I have kids hanging off me every moment of the day and there's so much I want to do and I feel exhausted and in dire need of a drink kind of way. More like I think I know what I am doing here, I feel pretty confident we're headed in the right direction and even if the boat is taking on water I don't think we're going to sink.
I can see the distinction between who Wil is and how I am with him. I know that sounds easy but in the hurly burly the lines between mothers and children, or what we do as mothers and how are children are is so often blurred.
Amy is so like me in so many ways that parenting her has too often been about dealing with my own shit. We both talk too much and too loud and are in constant need of the embrace of community. We're both, well, intense, and we both seem helpless to modify that for the benefit of others. We've both just got so much going on, we have our worries and our pride and our insatiable need to make stuff.
Our. Own. Way.
With my first born, the package of first time parenting combined with the experience of parenting myself and the resultant self-reflection has made it very difficult for me to stake out the place in which I am a mother. A place I can fence off and lay some stable foundations and remain confident about what I am doing.
For me mothering has so easily been infected with my doubts about myself, my frustration at not being able to shepherd Amy through the pitfalls I so vividly recall falling into so long ago. Her nature, her needs, could not have been a more difficult challenge for me. Could not have promised more karmic lessons.
And I don't have a problem with that. In theory. Good medicine I am sure.
In reality though I am all too aware that motherhood is a confidence game. A game in which the rules are either hidden or subject to change without notice. Where the goal is obscure, the obstacles frequent and unexpected and the stakes higher than life. Where you have no choice but to play on despite the fear that you can never win and where you must daily pretend to yourself and your children and sundry bosses, colleagues, family members and random strangers that you are not afraid, nay that you are having a good time.
I'm not yet in touch with what Wil has come to teach me in a karmic sense, but for now he seems to be a little voice in my ear that's telling me only good things. Ironically if my parenting of Amy could be defined largely as a battle of wills, my parenting of Wil seems to be defined largely as one of amiability. So far he seems prepared to assist me on my way as much as I am helping him on his.
I am having more than a little trouble getting his smile on camera, which is a shame because a daily dose of it has got me thinking my con is more than a sham.
Who would have thought it?