Dear Mommy Bloggers: You're Doing Fine
So, I'm working on my novel, aka, scrolling through Facebook and wondering how in the heck it knows that I am in love with the Free People boyfriend tee. I haven't even told Alexa that. Somehow, just because I look at it every day, in every color, put it in my cart, but never hit SUBMIT ORDER button, it knows. One day, I'm going to accidentally hit that button and will end up having to get a storage unit for the stuff that has been building in that cart for the last two years. I ponder this and continue scrolling when suddenly a blog title catches my eye: These Mommy Bloggers Wish They Could Turn Back Time And Be Better Parents! And I thought, OMG I totally know that feeling. How I wish I could go back 30 years to when my first daughter was born. There are so many things I would do differently. I totally get it.
I begin to read and realize that these mommys are the mother of two-year olds. TWO! Twenty-four months! What would they "go back" and do differently? Use Pampers instead of Luvs? Get the vibrating bassinette instead of the one that only plays music? Make their own baby food from organic vegetables that they grew in their garden instead of buying it off the shelves in Publix? Oh you mommys. You funny, funny mommys. You crack me up.
I want to tell these mommys that they are doing a great job. I have seen them in action. I have watched them pump their sore boobs to avoid supplementing with formula, heat bottles on the stove instead of the microwave due to fear of radiation, hook up monitors throughout their entire home so that they will hear every breath taken by their child. I have watched them buckle their child into a car seat that has more safety latches than the upside down rides I used to let my kids go on when that creepy traveling fair would take over the parking lot at the strip center—not to mention letting what I now know must have been a well seasoned pedophile, buckle them in while I went in search of a deep fried turkey leg.
Trust me mommys, you are wonderful parents. You have done nothing wrong. YET.
I was a very young mommy, compared to most these days. I had my first daughter at the age of 25. My then husband was only 26. What did I know about babies, other than the fact that they were really cute, and if I had one I would have an excuse for not getting a job? Looking back, I see that perhaps our common sense level was not as high as it should have been considering we were basically in charge of another living human being.
For instance, one afternoon when our daughter was about three months old, I called my husband from my mother's house just a few miles away. It was his first day babysitting, being totally alone with his daughter for more than ten minutes. I called to check in on him and smiled as he regaled me with all the amazing things I had missed in the last hour. My smile disappeared as he said, "Well, I better go, I left Meredith on the bathroom counter." Apparently I had called in the middle of a diaper change and he had not yet learned that we always make sure our new baby is not on a counter that is right next to a toilet full of water, before we answer the phone.
He was not alone in his lack of judgement. One night when this same poor kid was about eighteen months old, I was leaving a dinner that we had been to with other moms and kids. As I began to drive from the parking lot I realized I had left my sweater in the restaurant. I pulled up, left the car running, door open, and went in to retrieve my sweater. Looking back I think of who could have jumped into the driver's seat and taken off with my darling daughter and I get a sick feeling in my stomach even these twenty-eight years later. In my defense, it was a new Ann Taylor cardigan...but still...
You mommys! I see how you make sure that every minute is spent doing something good for baby. You are either reading to baby, singing to baby, or at the park, at the zoo, at the pool. There are swimming lessons, play dates, mommy-baby sing alongs...you guys are killin' it!
Let me tell you how my fourth little one spent the better part of his day when he was 18 months old...I bought a bouncy seat which was basically a piece of fabric that went between his legs, attached to a long piece of elastic that would hang from the door jam. He would hang there and bounce all day in that thing while eating a vienna sausage, which has now been taken off the baby market as a major choking hazard. He turned out perfectly fine, graduated college and everything. His legs are a little bit longer than normal, but other than that he is perfectly fine.
Not to scare you, but my children are now grown adults and yet these are the times that try my tired parenting soul the most. I want them to be happy, fulfilled, excited about their life. To that end, I can't help but offer advice that sometimes is not always welcome. My sister says, "I wish I had someone to give me great advice when I was 25 like your kids have." I realized when I was 25, I DID. His name was Dr. Levine and his advice was, "PUSH! ONE MORE GOOD PUSH" and "Use lanolin on your nipples for the soreness." Very good advice, actually.
Anyway, mommys you're doing great. One piece of advice, enjoy it. Relish the moments. Don't worry about the lessons, and the after school clubs and competitive sports and the extracurricular activities that will one day look great on a college essay. Kick a soccer ball. Set up the Playmobil pirate ship. Watch the endless "shows" they insist on performing while you are trying to catch up on House of Cards. Let him wear his ball cap for the school picture if he wants to.
These days, if I tune everything out and really concentrate, I can conjure up those days. My four kids in the driveway playing, the little chubby baby hands reaching from the stroller to be held, the sweet smell of the fine baby hair after the Johnson's Baby Shampoo has been rinsed out, the snacks, the homework, the day to day of having children. Sometimes, I get such a pang in my stomach it almost takes my breath away— I can see it all so clearly, hear the sounds and feel the deep peace that came over me when each one was tucked safely into bed for the night.
Mommys, just love them with all you have and you will be a wonderful parent. Oh, and don't leave them in a running car by themselves with the door open. Make the most of every day because, as I have learned...there is no going back.
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