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Posts Tagged ‘childrearing’

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It’s a classic piece of unsolicited advice: Babies change everything. But it’s actually true.

For example, shopping:

– Target used to be where I went for affordable work clothes and fun housewares. Now it’s where I dance a little jig if I leave for under $100.

– Baby Gap was a store I glanced at occasionally as I cruised into The Gap, thinking, “huh, cute.” Now it’s where I struggle to resist spending my kid’s college fund.

– Old Navy was my source for cheap jeans that actually fit me. Now it’s where I go to feel smart about dressing my child.

– The grocery store was an occasional necessity. Now it’s midday entertainment, and (sometimes) a twice-a-week necessity.

Time management…

– Ten free minutes used to mean making a few phone calls. Now it means showering, and maybe a phone call on speaker.

– Laundry used to happen on weekends, whenever I got up. Now it happens before the baby gets up and during naps on weekends. And weekdays.

– I used to unload the dishwasher as soon as it was finished. Now I wait for the baby to be around because he enjoys handing dishes to me. Sometimes I even wait until he’s a little cranky because seriously, he loves helping me.

And everyday objects…

– The couch was where I went to watch movies. Now it’s where I go to nap.

– Measuring cups and mixing bowls were for, well, measuring and mixing. Now they’re bath toys and hats and drums and…

– My iPad used to be the reason I was never bored. Now it’s the reason I’m able to cut the baby’s hair.

And trim his nails.

And brush his teeth.

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“Good morning, Sweetheart!”

It’s 5:30, maybe 6 if I’m lucky.

“Uh-oh!”

His beloved Ned hits the floor. He’s been standing and dangling that poor little bear over the crib rail, waiting for the necessary audience for his daily performance. (I know this thanks to the video monitor, that double-edged sword of a device that sometimes entertains as well as reassures parents.)

“Uh-oh! Uh-oh! Uh-oh! Uh-oh! Uh-oh!”

That’s the soundtrack as he works his blanket over the rail with both chubby hands because it’s too big to fling over in one go.

“Uh-oh!”

The elephant-head blankey lands on top of the small mountain of fluffy baby things. Ned is typically at the bottom unless Baboo performed with particular flair and flung him to one side.

“Ney-ney!”

“Yes, I’ll get Ned.”

I retrieve the toy and bend to pick the baby up, moving in ways that protect my mid-40s back. We sit down with Ned. I reach for the bottle I set down as I watched the show. He holds his bear and drinks while I rock us and nuzzle his noggin.

Another day has begun.

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Friends! Does your baby wake up wet and sad every morning? Are his formerly silky haunches covered in a nasty rash because of it? Are you at your wit’s end trying to think of ways to fix the problem after going up a diaper size, which has never failed to stop leaks in the past?

Well fear no more, because help is here in the form of an old friend:

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That’s right, your old pal the bulky, nasty maxi-pad is here to save the day! Just cut off the wings, slit the back so the pee can get through to the diaper, and voilĂ ! The baby may wake up slightly damp, but your days of flooding will be over!

By the way, they’re also great if your dog has had knee surgery. Super-absorbent and much cheaper than bandaging supplies.

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“Enjoy every moment.”

“That’s kind of a lot of pressure.”

My response was out of my mouth before I could stop it. I may have offended her, or hurt her feelings, and I don’t feel great about that. I wasn’t trying to be mean or bitchy, but that nice lady I had just met unfortunately uttered my biggest motherhood advice pet peeve on a day when my speech filters were not fully operational.

She meant it nicely, of course. It’s one of the things people think they are supposed to say to people with babies. When you say it, the other person is supposed to smile and nod and maybe tilt their head to the side in a wistful manner. But there are a few reasons why it sets me off

First of all, as I said to her: I don’t need more pressure to do motherhood the right way. I put enough on myself, and the media takes care of the rest. Pick up an issue of “Parents” magazine and check out any article on Having Maximum Fun With Your Child to see what I mean. Perhaps I’m too much of a literalist, but the flip side of “enjoy every moment” is: If you’re not enjoying every moment, there’s something wrong with you, or your parenting skills, or both.

Secondly: What if you’re just having a bad day, or a string of them, because oh I don’t know… Insomnia, cramps, crushing headache, your sister/cousin/brother/dad/partner is being awful just then, you have no idea how you’re going to put the kid through Kindergarten. Granted, there are times when caring for a kid provides respite from bad days, but my experience is that being a parent on a day you just need a break from being a parent is the opposite of enjoyable. (Which is why I will never again have more than two glasses of wine on date night.)

Thirdly: Come on. Poopy diapers and teething and spitup and sleep deprivation suck, deeply, for a long time, and everyone knows it.

Finally: What if your kid is sick? I don’t mean like with a cold, I mean with cancer or some serious illness you can’t tell they have just by looking. My kid, for the record, is (knock wood) very healthy, but I do sometimes allow myself to think about what it would be like to deeply love a very sick child. There is no possible way parents of sick kids are enjoying every moment. They’re just enjoying the ones they can.

So maybe that’s the better statement: Enjoy as much as you can. It’s not as pretty, but it rings true to me.

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