Category Archives: parenting

Logic and The Heart

I have a friend who misses something in the South. An unworkable situation tangled with regret and love and the knowledge that it can’t be made workable and life must go on as it is.  None of that stops the heart wanting what it wants, “Ulysses Everett McGill: Pete, it’s a fool that looks for logic in the chambers of the human heart.”  Truer words have never been spoken as I too have always missed people and things in the South: magnolias, soft summer nights, tea that is brewed as God intended and most of all my daughter.  Now she and her wife have given me two more people to miss. Twin girls to add to my list of things to cry about as I get out of the car at the airport to return to the dry beautiful elitism of Colorado.  Every time I say I won’t cry and every trip I do, just as I did every school year when I took Morgan to the first day of school and cried all the way to my school and then later work.  Leavings are just painful no matter what you do.

I grew up in Texas and while it’s different than Georgia (of course it is don’t be ridiculous!) it is also similar in many ways. Read the rest of this entry

Pick Up the Baby and Put Down the Broom!

One bit of advice for first time mothers that I cannot repeat enough is this: pick up the baby and put down the broom. That’s right, let the dust gather, the mail pile up (might want to pay that mortgage though, don’t want to forget that one!) and the dog fur multiply. You can’t see out of your windows, you whine? So what? You should only have eyes for that wee one in your arms anyway! Count your lucky stars if you are getting your own bod washed, much less any major house cleaning done, on a regular basis!

After your little doll face arrives, the shift from having your house always, or most of the time, in your preferred stage of cleanliness to tripping over piled laundry in the hall and a mile high stack of dirty dishes in the sink is a tough one. Time to give yourself a break!
I’m not talking about letting your house enter pigsty status or causing concern for local Child Protective Services folk. I’m talking about letting the floors go for awhile. Give up making your bed for the time being – feel very blessed if you can find time to change the sheets on a regular basis! Go ahead and let the dust gather on your collection of Precious Moments figurines (yikes!) that you inherited from Aunt Matilda without guilt. And if the dust bunnies under the bed mutate into dust dinosaurs – oh well!

Very quickly you will find ways to get the central life and sanity preserving basics done. You can wash dishes or load the washing machine with one hand while the other holds Baby and some people’s kids will sleep on the clothes dryer in their carriers. Mine would not but maybe you’ll get lucky on that one. You can run the vacuum and maybe sweep a bit pretty easily. You can get those things covered but for clean diapers sake do not stress out over all the rest of it. The deeper cleaning stuff, believe me, will wait right there for you to get to it once baby has grown a bit and life is a little more coherent. Like when they are leaving for college. No really, I’m kidding!

Here’s the soft baby bottom line Mommsies and Daddios; Baby will be Baby for such a short time you cannot even fathom it at this moment. To waste even a moment while you are holding them and nuzzling their tummies on guilt over the state of the house is absurd. In those first few months (years) watch them every second you can, like corn you can practically hear them growing.

Observe, hold, smell, touch and love-love -love them as much as you possibly can. Ask any parent of grown children and they will tell you that children become adults and are leaving home before you know it and you do not want to have any regrets over how you prioritized your time with them when they do.

So breathe and relax…a little grubbiness never killed anyone and believe it or not I’ve heard that dog fur sweaters are a quite the thing in some parts. Consider this, soon you’ll be able to knit enough dog fur sweaters for a whole platoon of soldiers and maybe even go on to start your own dog sweater cottage industry. Not likely, but I can guarantee that one day you will be able to see clearly out of those windows again. Just in time to notice that the grass is taller than your fence but we’ll save that discussion for another day.

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New Mommy Stress (by request)

Nothing is more frightening than the moment in the hours, days or weeks after the birth of your first child when you realize the enormous scope of what you have taken on to accomplish.  Somehow you are supposed to raise this incredibly small life form to adulthood with all its limbs and digits still attached and hopefully in possession of a conscience, some social skills and some smarts: at least enough smarts to take care of him or herself and even better…pick out a nice safe nursing home for you when the time comes. Uh…right.
There is that one moment in time when you consciously or unconsciously start screaming the question from somewhere in your soul – Oh My God What Have I Done?!  It’s ok if you don’t want to admit it that you want to stuff the baby back where it came from and pretend to still be pregnant for a few more years.  It makes you normal and it’s ok to admit it.
Truth is it is scary, even more so these days with parents who have already gone on before us to wherever we go when we die or are so far away geographically that they might as well be gone and aren’t around to comfort us in our insecurity.  It used to be there was someone in the next hut over or at the next fire that could help us at 3am when the baby just will not stop crying and absolutely refuses to tell you how to give it what it wants.  Or could help us get some sleep when the circuits in our brain are starting to overload from the lack thereof.
I remember moments when my daughter was small and I would have to drag myself from sleep with an internal system of pulleys and levers and force my body to move.  I remember literally feeling nauseated from waking up so many in the night. My baby would cry and I would cry with her, as all moms eventually do,  because it breaks our hearts knowing our babies must be thinking that they are lost in a foreign world and don’t speak the language and none of the large people around seem very competent to meet their very pressing needs.  How scary for them!  How scary for us!
There are so many books out there and methods and procedures and experts and family members and family-in-law members that it can become overwhelming to try and figure out the “right” way to parent.  Food choices and diaper decisions.  Waitlists for the “best” schools.  And budget choices of do I buy new because I want my baby to not wear stranger baby clothes or do I buy used because it’s practical and means I can save more money for little Paulette’s college fund or little Wilson’s first fender bender?
Should I make him comfort himself at night or should I hold him or should he sleep with us as most of the rest of the world’s babies do?  But what if I roll over on him? Should I feed her on demand or every two hours and when do I start with the solids?  Should I breast feed or bottle feed? And what the hell do I do with all these stretch marks?!
Here’s the thing.  You are going to mess your child up in some way or the other.  Accept this and forgive yourself in advance.  You are going to mess them up less if you relax and remember to breathe.  Hold your sweet dumpling baby and take deep long breaths and you will stay calm and able to ‘feel” in your gut what is right for YOUR baby.  Not Dr. Spock’s baby or Nurse Bossy’s baby, your baby.
I made myself feel better as a mother by starting a therapy fund for my daughter for future psychoanalysis to undo all my mistakes.  I tried so hard to do it “right”.  The right clothes, right book, right diet and you know my daughter did what she knew was right for her every time in spite of all my book learnin’.  When I finally accepted that she knew a lot of the time what worked for her and that I really was going to make some serious mistakes and some not such a big deal mistakes and everything in between I relaxed.
Practice saying the following: “I’m sorry, little Chelsea that I fell asleep from exhaustion and was late getting you from daycare.”  “I’m sorry, little Mateo, that I made you go to (insert one) public, private or alternative school and it warped you and now you can’t stop sucking your thumb even though you’re 30 years old.”  “I’m sorry I made you come home at a decent hour and wouldn’t let you wear thong underwear in kindergarten.” And “ I’m really sorry for that terrible haircut I gave you when you were 4.”
Seriously though recognize that you might have to do some apologizing at some point.  It’s all right to apologize to kids when it’s really necessary.  Don’t let them “work” you over it though! You’ll know when it’s right to say you’re sorry.  Recognize too that when they have kids they’ll understand what a great job you did but most likely will take you 100% for granted until then and it’s ok.
Take every moment to remind yourself you will get to sleep again someday and impress upon your mind every time you can the image of your baby’s face.  It’s so true that overnight they are grown and gone.  Remind yourself that hundreds of millions of mothers who have gone before you, and are with you in spirit now, know exactly what you’re going through.  Get some friends you can call when you need to sleep or when you need a moment of non-baby time with your partner. 

I can’t stress enough to new moms the value of some parenting classes here and there, lots of play dates and remembering to slap on some lipstick now and then so you don’t forget how pretty you are.  One of the best gifts I got right after my daughter was born was perfume and nail polish.  I’ll never forget how happy those two little things made me feel! 

Also let your partner or your own parents help you more often without hovering over them every second.  Chances are they’re willing to do more if you can get yourself out of the way. They aren’t “doing it wrong” either.  If you don’t have a partner please take time to find some friends to help you along this road and take care of yourself as much as you can. 

It’s the middle of the night and she won’t stop crying and you want to scream out loud.  It’s not ok but it will be.  Really it will. You’re not alone. You’re ok.  Babies have been overcoming adversity since the beginning of time.  It’s ok if they cry sometimes because you can’t figure out how to make them happy.  It’s ok if you forget to do all the “right” things.  It’s ok if you wonder if you are really cut out for all this and maybe Auntie Joan and Uncle Bob would like to raise another child. 

When you get overwhelmed by it all call a 24/7 prayer line of any faith, call your parents, call a friend, preferably another mother and cry your heart out. Heck make up some symptoms and call Dial A Nurse, hearing a human adult voice can go a long way to re-centering.  Talk about your fears and your concerns and go ahead and think you’re the worst mom ever because you aren’t.  If you’re reading this and you’re trying at all, in even the tiniest of ways, to understand this new creature and your new, oh so unfamiliar and strange role then that alone should tell you something about who you are already as a mother.
Keep firmly in mind that as long as you don’t drop them on their heads (too often) and take time to breathe, breathe and breathe again they will be fine.  And so will you.  And hey, if they turn out not to need that therapy fund after all, you can take a helluva cruise with that cash!
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