Mom Bloggers Would Have Made Me a Better Mother

Lisa writes: “Is that normal?”  was the first, second and probably third question I asked my pediatrician every time I walked into his office.  Normal.  Young moms are looking for normal but, in truth, we don’t know what it looks like.  Enter the internet and Mom bloggers.  My kids were born in the 1990s and my access to online information was limited in their early years.  Had I been able to consult this tribe of supporters, I would have learned that “normal” looks like a lot of different things and that my kids were fine.

I would have loved to have been part of a global group of young mom bloggers sharing information, trying to make sense of the changes in their lives and bringing humor to the process.  I could have used all three, perhaps humor the most.

Mom bloggers would have made me a better mother and here is why:
Mommy Bloggers
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I Will Be There for You Again

I get that you think that you never want to have kids.  I get that they look like a lot of hard work, and you don’t really like small children.  I know that you cannot even imagine being a father. I was nineteen once, I understand. But one day, years from now, I am hoping you will change your mind.  So here is the deal.  If you change your mind and decide to make me a grandmother, I will be there for you. Here are the things I promise:

 be there for you, layette, grandmother

1. I promise to love and respect your partner, to respect the sanctity of your home and your relationship and I promise to keep my mouth shut about both. You may not do things the way I would, but even now, kids grown and life half gone, I am not sure I did it right.

2. I may hate the loads of laundry that you and your brothers leave all over the house when you are visiting now, but when invited to visit the home of my grandchild, I will joyfully do laundry, clean kitchens and tidy up toys.  I know each of these things are small potatoes. I also know that when a young mom who has been up all night with a baby walks into a pristine kitchen, with the clean laundry piled neatly in a basket, she feels loved and cared for.

3. I will walk, talk and rock that baby until she lies sleeping in my arms and I will do it as many hours as needed, letting her mother catch up on much-needed sleep, work or just reconnect with her friends.  I know my grandchild won’t remember that I did this, but I will.  I can barely remember you being a baby.  You were tightly sandwiched between two brothers and, frankly, there are years of long blackouts in my memory.  The doctor handed you to me and then, five minutes later, I sent you to nursery school.  Holding your child will be a cosmic do over for me and I won’t forget a thing.

4. I will listen.  I know you feel that I have been doing a lot of the talking during the last nineteen years…there may be some truth to that.  Having a child will shake the foundations of your being and nothing in life will ever look the same again.  You and your partner may talk about this endlessly, but if you ever want another ear, from your biggest admirer, it is my turn to listen.

5. I will speak, give advice, show you how things are done, but only if you ask me.  Babies can be scary, parenthood is a leap into the unknown and words of comfort from someone who has traveled this road can often be all that is needed, or conversely, just about the most irritating thing on the planet. You and your brothers turned out alright and I learned a thing or two along the way. I am available to download that information, upon request.

6. As a new parent you will be tired and miserable, grumpy and sometimes short.  You will think you know everything even when you know nothing.  You will be nervous and anxious and not always great company. Sometimes you will be euphoric and think you are the first person on Earth to experience such feelings.  Don’t worry, I lived through your teenage years, I have seen you like this before, and I will be there for you again.



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Broody in the Empty Nest

Lisa writes: In England they call it being “broody,” the clock ticking feeling that the one thing in the world you want to hold is your own baby.  It strikes women in their twenties and thirties and if not dealt with can bring on a sense of panic.  But I am in my fifties, almost in an empty nest, and yet I have been having that familiar tug, that feeling like I want to pick up the babies of perfect strangers and have a little cuddle.  When I see a young mother struggling with a whiny toddler and a crying baby, I want to walk over pick the baby up, put her over my shoulder and with that rocking motion we mothers know so well, calm her to sleep.

broody, baby boy, empty nest feeling broody

At first I thought that this was some sort of game that mother nature was playing with my head, making me broody when my childbearing days are over, but then I thought again.  Mother nature is not playing with me, it is I who played with mother nature and if I remember my margarine ads correctly, this doesn’t end well.

I had my kids in my thirties, long after she intended me to bear offspring.  On my clock I have kids in college and could be a decade away from meeting my grandchildren.  On her clock, I should have already purchased the layette, hosted the shower, offered to take the baby for the weekend and just maybe visited on Grandparents Day at nursery school.  You see I fooled with the timeline the universe had set out for me, yet someplace deep in my soul, deep in a very basic part of my brain the message didn’t get through.



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Laughing Baby

A Grown and Flown friend writes: A colleague forwarded a YouTube video today that shows a baby gurgling with laughter as his father tears a sheet of paper in front of him. Every tear – the sound of it, the sight – sets off peals of happy laughter, unadulterated joy. My response?  I cried.  Not the sort of “laugh-until-you-cry” moment.  Tears of loss and sadness as I remembered my own laughing baby.

I have so few memories of my children laughing like that, or of laughing with them in that way.  I went back to work when each of my boys was 12 weeks old.  For the first years, I commuted to the city.  I had to catch a certain train every day to get home in time for the sitter to catch her bus, and if she missed her bus, it meant strapping two kids into car seats and driving her home, and then coming back to start our evening together.  To bathtime and stories. I don’t regret that I have always worked outside the home.  I had no choice about this, but I also have no remorse. [Read more...]



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