Tuesday
Apr292008

Children

Veronique of A Day in the Life asks: you talk a lot about parenting and things you have learned. can you in one blog post give a mom-to-be some advice on things that worked, things that didn't work and the single best gadget that worked for you!
 
Well, first off, Veronique, Mrs. G. has to take a moment to tell you how beautiful you are. She can tell from your smile alone that you are a natural born mama. Your above average hair only seals the maternal deal. Before we get down to to the nitty gritty, do you see that healthy houseplant behind you? Mrs. G. recommends that you throw it away now or give it to a nice childless friend, so that you don't have to witness its withering demise once the baby comes and you don't have time to pee or condition your hair are so busy being a mommy.


Mrs. G. isn't going to give you any advice regarding labor and delivery, because each woman, understandably, has her own opinions about how she chooses to give birth. And all of these choices should be respected. But if the subject comes up, Mrs. G. heartily recommends the epidural. epidural. epidural. epidural. epidural. epidural. epidural. epidural. epidural. epidural. epidural. epidural. epidural. epidural. epidural. epidural.

Veronique, when you get your beautiful infant home, Mrs. G. wants you to take it easy and let your family and friends spoil you so that you can relax, nurse, snuggle and smell your freshly baked baby to your heart's content. No cooking, no dishes, no chores. Veronique, Mrs. G. knows from reading your blog that you are a hip and happening woman. Some women succeed in maintaining their sense of style and fashion when mothering young ones while others, God help them, struggle just to bathe.

You know how everybody tells you that you are going to be blown away by how much you will love your child. They are right. The whole world looks completely different when you drive home from the hospital with your baby safely strapped into the, now, family car. To Mrs. G, it was similar to the first time she put on eyeglasses and could see the leaves (see each little leaf) on the trees. Also, Veronique, be prepared to fall in love with your husband all over again, because there is nothing sexier than watching the man you love become a dad. Nothing.

The one word that kept coming into Mrs. G's mind when she thought about what parenting advice to impart to you was surrender. Surrender to motherhood. Abandon the expectations of books, magazines, experts, pediatricians, family, friends, your fantasies and yield to the power of motherhood, yield to the seemingly endless need of your child, yield to the power of love. Let go and surrender. It's not as easy as it sounds. It requires daily thought and gets easier with time. It takes confidence to surrender.

Pretty much all the gadgets Mrs. G's children loved have been recalled or deemed dangerous: walkers, johnny jump-ups, electrical sockets and lead paint. It's good to be safe, but kids are pretty sturdy. Mrs. G. has a friend named Mrs. G. Judy whose kid rolled off the changing table and was just fine. She has another friend named Mrs. G. Marilyn whose child ate a half a bar of Ivory Soap without any gastric repercussions.

Please know that when your baby becomes a toddler, he or she will learn to swing and never want to stop swinging. Your child will beg and plead for just a few more pushes and then promise in his or her most authentic child of Jesus voice, to stop swinging in 20 10 5 minutes with no screaming or crying. Veronique, your child is lying to your face. Don't take it personally.

Depending on income, you may want to broaden your definition of vacation.

Many moms wonder during their second pregnancies if they can possibly love another child as much as their first one. It's possible. Like her favorite pair of maternity pants, Mrs. G's heart stretched in all the right ways to welcome another child into her life.

One of the most magical parts of being a parent is the opportunity to relive some of the best childhood traditions-like watching your mother spend a week running around and gathering the necessary items necessary for the perfect Spider-Man costume and then deciding three minutes before it's time to go out trick-or-treating that you want to be a female witch just like your older sister even though there is only one witch's hat in the house and you are a male. Holidays are great.

Try to limit your child's exposure to current fashion so that he or she is open to the concept of hand-me-downs and not overly dependent on gender specific clothing.

Understand that some days are better than others and that, sometimes, midday drinking is not a symptom of a deeper problem.

Avoid the urge to sign your child up for every class, lesson, workshop and camp.

Kids need time to just be. How else will they learn how to build fairy houses out of moss and twigs, how to hammer rocks in order to create a spark, how to drag all the canned food out of your pantry to play store, how to braid daisy chains, how to destroy $40 of model magic clay by smushing all the individually priced colors into one gray blob, how to imitate the tragic death of a felled deer with antlers made from sticks. These are things that can't be learned from books. Things that take slow, sweet time.

Oh, yeah, love them of course.


And nibble their toes and snorfle their necks and hug them and kiss them as much as you can...


because, Veronique, the whole joyful, crazy ride goes fast.


So unbelievably fast.

May your labor be healthy, swift and pain free-ish! Blessings to you, your husband and your child. We expect pictures!

Any other advice for this soon-to-be new mama?

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Reader Comments (91)

holy heck, i'm first.

April 28, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterkatydidnot

and now, advice. um. shoot. go with the flow, baby. sleep when your baby sleeps. and smell your babies head every single chance you get. seriously.

April 28, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterkatydidnot

Holy Heck, I'm THIRD! Surrender. That's the key. Surrender I'm still learning about. Even last night and today ...still learning.

Never underestimate the power of a good nap. Does wonders! Even when your kids are preschool age.

April 28, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJCK

It's too hard to give advice when I'm crying. Thanks a lot.

And where were you when I needed you 17 years ago? You could have saved me a lot of trouble (not that I would have been intelligent enough to listen, or anything).

April 28, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSuburbanCorrespondent

I recommend smelling their feet a lot, too. There is nothing better to me than the smell of my kid's sweaty little piggies. And try not to freak out when they scratch themselves with their razor sharp infant fingernails/daggers. And be prepared to have your hair clutched/pulled a lot, too. As for the naps? Mine has been out of preschool for years, and I still find a nap to be an asset (mostly when an afternoon drink is out of the question). And also, the most important lesson I've learned from motherhood is to get over my totally anal retentive behavior and just lighten the hell up. They're kids. Let 'em screw up. I still do, and no one grounds me.

April 28, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterI AM VERY MARY

YES TO NAPS!

And lots of chocolate in secret hiding places.

Mrs. G, you're so very brilliant. I love the pics of your kids jumping. And you surrendering.

Fantastic.

(Congratulations, Veronique & hubby & dog! Enjoy enjoy enjoy)

April 28, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterstephanie

In between sobs, I just want to add that if I were to do it all over again, I'd try not to get too hung up in what everyone else does, or what everyone else say, and instead try to focus on doing what I feel is right for my baby and for me.

Best of luck!

Heidi

April 28, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterFamily Adventure

Advise,no I don't have any wisdom to pass along.since I was not blessed with childern of my own.

April 28, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMike Golch

cuddle them as much as you can and then teach them to massage your head and shoulders as soon as possible...

April 28, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterRosie

That was wonderful, Mrs. G.

"Whole Child Whole Parent" Polly Berrien Berends

http://tinyurl.com/5cpd6j

I happen to know that this book is on Mrs. G.'s book shelf. Life/paradigm/perspective changing book. I still pull it out once in a while, and my kidlets are 21, 15, 14.

April 29, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterLaura

That is some good hair. As I was behind the door when good hair was handed out, I know good hair when I see it.
As for that pimp hat, didn't one of the characters in Fat Albert wear one just like it?

April 29, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterStacey

Oh my word I am twelfth !

This may be your best post ever Mrs G. In my book anyway. This post of yours made me laugh and cry.

My eldest son's middle name is epidural. Well I wanted it to be. I got shouted down though.

I am still surrendering too - trying to surrender may go on for the rest of my life.

April 29, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterbluemountainsmary

I think you just about covered it!
Terri
P.S. LOVE your girl' curly red hair. I always wanted curly hair!!!

April 29, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterTerri

I second the Epidural.

If they run out that day, her best friend Senorita Spinal Block is a good alternative.

April 29, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterManager Mom

Can't think of a thing to add - you've captured motherhood and parenting to a "T." It's a roller coaster ride powered by love.
(Dear God, submit this piece somewhere! It's excellent.)

April 29, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterBeth

I think you covered it all Mrs. G. Loved the Vacation picture, we took some of those very same vacations.

Darla

April 29, 2008 | Unregistered Commentersee you there!

You can add this to your greatest hits list. And that surrender business...excellent advice in all endeavors. And that trees have leaves glasses thing? I thought that was my story. I've never heard anyone else tell it.

And Laura, Polly Berends...yes, and she has a book for grown-ups, too.

April 29, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterCamellia

Epidural -yep
Let the kids get bored - yep

Oh, and when you have a second child, let him or her fight with the older child. I'm told that if you just leave them to it, eventually they will either (a) kill each other or (b)give up and be nice. Either way it'll be quiet.

April 29, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterM

Magic Mrs G, magic...and only 10 years too late for me.

April 29, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterhippyhappyhay

Beautiful, Mrs. G!

1. Accept help (cooking, cleaning, whatever)...I didn't invite grandma for a week with the first, and I regretted it. Let someone else cook and vacuum!
2. Part of SURRENDER is giving up your idea of perfection. Love your baby, your husband, and yourself exactly as you are.

April 29, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterkcinnova

This was so good. Definitely in your "Top Ten"!!

Advice...yeah...sleep when your baby/child sleeps...snuggle often...sing to them~~A LOT!!...don't talk "baby talk" to them, they are people too, just smaller~~talk normal....snuggle some more....and yes yes yes...smell those piggies every chance you get because one day, sooner than you are ready for, they will NOT smell good!!
Best of luck!!

April 29, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterdkuroiwa

1. most of the people who will give you the advice that they are absolutely certain is correct have no children.
2. Follow your heart. You know your children the best and what is best for your family.
3.Accept all offers (except for advice) for help with meals, cleaning, laundry.
4.Trust in yourself, and in your children.
5.Be good to yourself.
6. Boredom is good. It lets us figure out how to not be bored.
7. Mistakes are ok, too.
8. Love, love, love.

April 29, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterdebra

Mrs. G, you nailed it - all of it, but especially the parts about falling in love with your husband all over again and how fast it all goes by.

When I was pregnant, people would come to me with all sorts of (unasked-for) advice. The one that I'll NEVER forget was a little old woman at the grocery store. Seriously, she looked like a Russian Baba, and she walked right up to me and said "You won't believe me in a few weeks when you're sleep deprived and think that your life has become nothing but crying and nursing and dirty diapers, but listen to me; babies grow very, very quickly. Too quickly. Before you know it, they'll be all grown up. Don't wish any time away. Pay attention."

I honor that woman; she gave me the best parenting advice I've ever gotten. I try to be present in EVERY moment of my daughters' lives (though, I do have to admit that there are times when I look at them and say "HOLY CRAP! Who are you and WHAT have you DONE with my BABIES?!).

April 29, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMrs. Chili

Hey! Someone inveighed against using baby talk. I beg to differ. Talk however feels natural to you to communicate with your child. The real problem arises when you realize that your child is now using all the "correct" words, while you and your husband are still saying things like "wawa" and "baba" and such. Which is what happens here, I will admit.

April 29, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSuburbanCorrespondent

Oh, and if you MUST do housework with an infant around (because you'll break out in hives if you don't do the dishes... yes, I'm a little type-A), set the alarm on your stove for 15 minutes, then do as much as is humanly possible in ONLY that time. When the buzzer goes off, you're done. Go take a nap.

Oh, and it's okay to let a baby cry for a little while. They're remarkably tough little creatures with incredibly short memories. You won't damage a baby by letting her cry for five minutes while you take a shower.

April 29, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMrs. Chili

Awww -- this is *so amazing*!! Mrs. G you rock as usual, I heartily second (54th?) the surrendering. Losing control and eating a big humility pie (both in good ways) sum up motherhood for me...

April 29, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMamaBird

I chose not to have any, but this moving post almost makes me want to change my mind: it's real, wonderful and funny, just like you Mrs. G!

April 29, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterBlog Princess G

You nailed it!

I love the annual vacation shots ... I took my kids on the very same one, several times!

April 29, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterNancy

My advice is to just savor the moments even when you're exhausted and your child has just peed in your eye - they do grow up in the blink of an eye - don't blink too often.

Oh, and naps. It's all about the naps!

April 29, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterLaura

what a great post ..... yes to it all... as to houseplants... I rid my house of all but one.. I told myself the child will take a year to learn to walk.. there is no way he will be able to get to this small plant.. I can have one house plant and be a good mama ... you think? WRONG... I came round a corner on day before my son could walk and there he is with part of the plant hanging out of his mouth.. so I place a call to Poison Control.. since he had no teeth and did not break the stem all I had to do was wash his mouth out and feel like the worst Mom in the world.. to this day I don't know how he got hold of the plant ... I suspect he used mind control to float the plant to him.. so no house plants at all

Aww that was wonderful.

And yes, doesn't it go fast.

I'm right with you on giving children boredom time. Benign neglect is the best form of upbringing anyone can have. My children only read so much because they are trapped in on rainy days with no TV or computer at hand, and go out and cause havoc outside when the rain stops.

Oh yes - and be secure in yourself - what you want to do with regard to your child is almost certainly the best thing even if no-one else is doing it. They probably will be when they see that you are!

April 29, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterReluctant Blogger

Oh, Mrs. G, this is just the perfect balance of wisdom and wit I have come to expect from you. I heartily concur with all of it, especially the part about letting them get bored.

April 29, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterGwen

Mrs. G you should really think about writing a parenting book. One that tells the cold hard but lovely truths of parenthood.Or at least have your essays on parenting published. You are a modern day Erma Bombeck. So listen up all you young Moms to be out there Mrs G tells it like it is.
Why is is that I have the exact same pictures at my house (the subjects may have a different haircolor but the poses and wardrobe are the same).
Yeah too bad about the whole danger aspect to those little walkers things because those were a real lifesaver to me.The only advice I would add to this is remember that a child can turn even the most innocent looking object into a death trap.

April 29, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterWho asked you?

I'd say you've pretty much covered everything in your usual wonderful fashion.

April 29, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterjenontheedge

WOW! Mrs. G, you continually out-pace my current amazement of you. This is the most beautiful (and accurate) summation of raising children that I've read. Bravo!
My first child is 11.5 (how, how, HOW did that happen?!!), and I was sharing with a friend who's first is 1.5, that what amazed me most was that with every stage of development life just gets better and better, and it started out AMAZING!! I'm not sure about the physics of that - I just chalked it up to the supernatural.
I agree that everyone has to develop their own parenting vision (from their heart) and then be faithful to it, even if it seems counter to "current advice". My favorite books that informed/supported my parenting vision, in chronological order, are: The Continuum Concept (Jean Liedloff), The Baby Book (Dr. William Sears), Parent & Child: Getting Through to Each Other (Dr. Lawrence Kutner), Mothers, Fathers and Children (A. Furutan), Three Steps to a Strong Family (Linda & Richard Eyre), Hold On to Your Kids (Neufeld & Mate).
ENJOY!!

April 29, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMamaMo

Mrs. G, you give great advice. I would just add that if your MIL is like my MIL use reverse psychology on her!

April 29, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJenn @ Juggling Life

Good advice, Mrs. G. I agree completely.

And, THANK YOU FOR NOT TALKING ABOUT LABOR AND DELIVERY. I managed to have a child without and I'm better off not knowing ...

April 29, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterso NOT cool

Fantastic post. Made me smile, laugh and cry all at the same time. This ol' mama just wants everyone to cherish it all (yes, good and not-so-good). It goes way too fast.

April 29, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMental P Mama

Beautiful post Mrs. G.

Wow, advice? I think the love advice was the best. Love, love and then more love.

April 29, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterGeekgrl64

Lovely, Mrs. G!

Pretty much covered - cuddle, smell, nap, LISTEN to yourself above all else, then seek advice from someone whose parenting practice and philosophy you trust, YES: surrender and breathe deeply and enjoy because although moms will collectively chorus that it goes by so fast, it's astonishing HOW fast.

OH! Write everything down! Seriously, take notes about firsts, because even if it seems such momentous events should inscribe themselves into your permanent memory, you'll forget.

Mazel Tov to you and lucky you to have such fab hair and a friend like Mrs. G.

Uh, and it CAN be done without an epidural... : )

April 29, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterOrganic Mama

No epidural. No epidural. No epidural. LOL As has been pointed out, everyone needs to look inside and do what works for them. But it most definitely can be done without an epidural, and there are reasons why you might not want one.

Get folks to sign up to bring you meals for as long as you can. That time to just hold and snuggle and nurse is precious. We got a meal every other day for about three weeks.

La Leche League can be a great resource for community, not just breastfeeding help.

Follow your heart, and your child's lead - they'll take you places you never dreamed.

April 29, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterdharmamama

This goes at the TOP, the VERY VERY TOP of Derfwad's Greatest Hits.

April 29, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterCheri

Looks like you covered all the basics. I'll reiterate the most important tip you offered: LET THEM BREATHE. Their best memories won't come from dance class or violin lessons or soccer practice, but from playing Taco Bell drive-thru on the backyard swing set. From writing and directing their own videos. From making an anchor desk out of a huge cardboard box and forecasting the weather. From wearing tiaras and tutus to the dinner table. Or red cowboy boots and a Darth Vader helmet. Oh, wait -- those are my best memories of my kids' earliest years.

Oh, if I could do a few things over again ...

Amy

amycates.blogspot.com

April 29, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAmy Cates

Give them time to be- YES. And snorfle their neck. You are right on.
Once I had a two year old pull a chair up to the cabinet holding my birth control pills, where he popped them each out and ingested the little pink things! The pack was a new and full one. Nothing came of it :) He cries alot and eats alot of chocolate...

April 29, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterShabbyInTheCity

Write thes things, multiple times, on index cards:
Clean Bathroom
Mop kitchen floor
Dust Living Room
Go to Post office
Make Dinner
Do a load of laundry
Wash dishes
etc.

When someone says "what can I do to help?" HAND THEM A CARD!

April 29, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterFannie Mae

And when you are pushing your toddler on the swing for the eight hundred thousandth time, remember that one day - and you won't see it coming - he or she will look at you over his or her shoulder and say, "I got it."

April 29, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterTEOM

Surrender is great advice (about almost anything). I'd add: You'll want to be perfect. You won't be. Stop trying. And forgive yourself. They're bouncy, resilient little creatures.

April 29, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterShe She

I must be the world's greatest mom, all my kids do is "just be." They were playing in the back yard yesterday and I went to check on them to find they were singing everything. You know, "la la la! I'm going to throw the ball now! Tra lalalala!' It was awesome."

April 29, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMarie

Here's my advice:
No kids' music in the car. My kids don't even think to ask for it, because it's never been in the car.
;-)

April 29, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterbarbra

Aw, geez. You made me cry, too.

The surrender is definitely a daily struggle. There are days still when I have a hard time processing that I'm a mother, and that may be the only title in the course of a day that I can lay claim to. That's when the surrender is hard.

And thank you for validating my midday drinking.

April 29, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer H

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