Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Baby, Do it Again!

All around me, it seems, other moms I know are expecting new babies. That's all past for me; in fact, it seems to have gone by in an eyeblink, although at the time I distinctly remember thinking my the baby years, for each of my kids, would last forever. So lately it made me think of the things I would do differently if I had the chance. Oh no, could be this an early, early symptom of the future grandma-knows-better syndrome??? Anyway, this is what I'd say to all those pregnant moms out there:

- Read less and feel more. Whenever the baby gurgled in a way I thought was odd, or sipped some bath water, I ran for the books. Countless hours of my baby's infancy were wasted reading every reference to the current problem (which really wasn't), and then cross-checking one authoritative baby book against another. That time could have been better spent listening to my child, my heart, my common sense, and yes, even my mother. Most infant oddities are really just normal stuff.

- Say yes to help. "Let me know if you need anything from the grocery story," my neighbor said. "Let me watch the baby for a while so you can get a haircut," my cousin insisted. Even my client offered, "We can work on this at night or over the weekend if it's easier for you." Each time I said, ever so politely, No thank you. What a fool! Most of the time people really do want to help. Ladies out there expecting a child: give others that chance.

- Lose the agony over logistics. Anytime I contemplated even a short outing my mind reeled. Where would I nurse? What if the ladies room was dirty or didn't have a changing area? What if he screamed like an antelope in heat? Would one change of clothes be enough, or two? What if he wouldn't nap in the car? What if he takes a big poop and there's no place to do a diaper change? What is the hot water in the ladies room sink doesn't work and I can't warm his bottle? Could I handle the car seat, diaper bag, and an umbrella? And if not, what if he got wet? Now I know the answer to most of these questions is: so what?

- Learn to nurse in public. I wouldn't or couldn't and the result was that I missed out on a lot of social interaction and meals, and the babies were also probably bored with our isolation.

- Look in the mirror. So much time and attention was ladled over the baby, but it wouldn't have taken too much time, and in fact would have vastly improved my self-esteem if I had taken 15 minutes each morning to put myself together. Even busy moms deserve a neat hairstyle, one little piece of jewelry, a clean unwrinkled outfit, and maybe a dab of mascara and lip gloss. It's not only baby who should look cute, clean and huggable.

- Travel light. All too quickly the van filled up with the umbrella stroller (for short jaunts), the big stroller (for longer mall or park expeditions), a toy bag (for impromptu visits to child-less homes), an extras bag (fitted with diapers, change of clothes, towel, wipes, bottle, can of formula, pacifier), and a box holding stroller netting, sunblock, hat, swimming pool toys. Later, I added a booster seat and toddler toys (bigger and noisier) and found there was now no room for the groceries. Hey, let's be real. When we visited anyone, a few Tupperware containers, wooden spoon and empty boxes made the baby happy.

- Say cheese. Nearly all the photos of my babies have Dad in them, or maybe Grandparents, cousins, even the house painter. I think I show up in maybe six. It saddens me not to have more everyday pics of me and my babies. Imagine how much sadder I will feel 20 or more years from now, and how little I will care that my hips were wider than Nebraska, or that my hair hadn't been colored in months. Smile pretty, moms!

What would you do differently?