I love a reflective question, and Next in Line* posted some great ones for those of us interested in responding. Here are my thoughts:
What surprised you the most?
So much has surprised me about becoming a parent. Perhaps the most shallow thing that surprises me every day is just how damn cute my kid is. I mean, he really is cute. I didn’t think I’d make such a cute kid–not one that makes people stop and gasp, that makes even the most stoic men swoon. But parents aren’t supposed to admit that they know their kids are cute, right?
Perhaps what also surprises me is just how challenging we have found getting out into the world with him. We didn’t take him out much at all in his first few months because we wanted to avoid getting him sick, but honestly, those times were significantly easier than going out at eight months or now. It’s really hard to go shopping with a toddler whose favorite phrase is “What that!” Even when I wear him on my back, he grabs and grabs and yells over and over, “Want that! Want that!” It honestly has made us a little gun shy about taking him places. I guess neither of us likes to call much attention to ourselves in public, so to have a child that yells, who is unpredictable, makes these tasks far more challenging. I know it’s just a matter of getting him used to being out and about (in stores, specifically–he’s a gem in social settings), so we’re working on it as much as we can.
But to end this section on a positive note, I have to say, too, that I’m very surprised at who he brings out in J and I. We both have these really creative, fun, playful sides. I tend to be fairly reserved, but for him, I sing in public, make crazy faces, dance around, and do whatever I can to get a smile–even when other people are looking.
What has been the most fun?
I think what has been the most fun is watching my son’s personality develop. He is really funny, and he loves to make people laugh. He’s got this great love of all sorts of sounds, and he tries to repeat them to make us giggle. And we love to make him laugh. Our family is at our best when we’re all laughing, tickling, making up crazy games, and generally having fun.
Because we’re a household of book lovers, it’s also great fun seeing our son’s love of reading emerge. He will sit and look at a book for the longest time, then ask for us to read it, then flip through it again to review his favorite parts. In his favorite books, he knows the plot climaxes, and he will flip to those to amuse himself over and over again. One of his first recognizable words was the title of one of his favorite books, and now, we can ask him to pick out any number of his books, and he will always choose the correct one. He must know the names of twenty books at this point. So yeah, I love his emerging intellect, but that’s no surprise, is it?
Through his music class, we also have had immense fun seeing a love of music emerge in our boy. He asks for music every day, saying “zzz” and pointing at any number of music playing devices (TV, computer, little CD player in the bedroom). He wants music playing at all times, and he’s got pretty good taste. His favorite is still Bob Marley, and he gets all dreamy-eyed and smiley when “Three Little Birds” comes on.
But honestly, it’s all fun to me. I love being a mom so very much. For me it has meant that there is fun to look forward to every day.
What was your most unglamorous day as a mom?
As I discussed here with some frequency at the time, BG had a very serious allergy to milk proteins (and likely gluten) in my breastmilk when he was younger. This caused a sort of allergic colitis that created the most disgusting bowel movements imaginable (stop reading now if you are squeamish). Normal breastmilk poo is supposed to resemble a sort of runny mustard seed consistency, but from the time BG was about two months old to after he was six months old, his bowel movements looked like some kind of green alien slime streaked with blood (I told you to stop reading.). Because we weren’t entirely sure what was causing this, we had to have his stools tested on more than one occasion. On the first occasion, nurses attempted to collect it from his diaper in the doctor’s office, but when the lab did not accept this, we were sent home with a kit, which included a bottle of some sort of fluid, gloves, and tongue depressers. We were to gather up as much of this stuff as possible, and somehow, I got the job. While I went about it in a fairly no-nonsense, collecting evidence sort of way, I do recall wondering how many people go from lives in academia to scraping their kids’ poop off of diapers with tongue depressers.
What advice do you have?
I am one of those people who is always hesitant to dole out advice, but I’ve got a lot to give, so here are some of my top bits:
- Don’t overwhelm yourself, your home, your family with baby stuff. There is some great baby gear out there, but there’s also a lot of stuff that is really unnecessary. Ask yourself whether you really need something before buying it or registering for it. For instance, do you really need a $3000 stroller? Does your child need every new baby gadget and toy on the market? More than likely, the answer is no.
- Trust your instincts. So much of parenting is guesswork and gut-checks. I had a lot of experience with kids before BG was born, but when it came time to bring home our very own child, many of the decisions we made came from what felt right for our family. And that’s what it really boils down to–what’s right for your baby? for your family?
- Don’t fall into that competitive mom trap. So many moms find the need to tear each other down when really we should be holding each other up, offering support, helping one another navigate this experience. We have a lot of that support in our blog community, but in real life, I’ve found that moms can be far from supportive, and that’s not the way it should be.
- Have fun and relax. So much of parenting is learning to be patient, learning to let go, and just enjoying the moment. It all goes by so quickly, so soak up every moment.
*http://babymakinghusband.wordpress.com/ (My link button seems to be broken. 😦 )