My twin sister has been telling me about a book called Babywise recently. I haven’t read it. I actually haven’t read any parenting books. It’s funny. My list of books to read seems impossibly long and I am always adding to it, but it never occurred to me to read a book before we started having kids. I was on Babycenter a lot, though. I consulted message boards online pretty frequently. Then we had Riley in 2008, and we sort of just jumped right in. I remember how Shawn and I used to check in with each other once we brought her home:
“Is that too much cream?”
“Is the bath water too warm?”
“Am I holding her right?”
“Is her poop supposed to be that color?”
On and on.
At least the night we had Riley was the same night that we had signed up for a baby care class, and Shawn was able to go since we were at the hospital anyway. That night, he learned how to swaddle. I’m pretty sure that’s his favorite baby skill: the un-ninja-able swaddle. He’s good. I’ll give him that. Not quite nurse good, but he’s good.
So now fast forward: four and a half years and three kids later.
Now, I actually feel like a mom. Like a real mom. Sometimes I’m more confident. Sometimes I still flounder. But I like the feeling that being a mother feels integral to my identity now. And so I thought I would take a moment to remember and note a few of the things I have learned along the way. Here’s what I came up with this morning:
1. As soon as you figure something out as a parent, there’s five more things you need to know.
2. Hug and hold your babies as much as possible.
3. Read regularly.
4. Never say no to fruits and veggies. (Riley likes to remind me, “Mommy, you said we could never have too much fruit.”
5. Invest in at least one soaking bin and quality stain-fighters (I like OxiClean) right from the get-go.
6. Smell your baby’s hair after every bath.
7. Parenting is fluid ground. Kids ‘likes’ constantly change; their habits, their moods are fickle. Be fluid.
8. Embrace redundancies. (I once say ABC’s to Adrian for a solid 45 minutes without pause. It was the only way to survive a solo car trip when he was just a few months old.)
9. Quiet moments are fickle. Embrace them.
10. Crying-filled, crazy moments are fleeting in the big picture. Get through them and move on.
11. Ask for help.
12. Be ready to try new things until you find something that works.
13. Prep kids for major routine changes (We started moving up Riley’s bedtime to get her ready for the school year a couple of weeks before school started. She eased into it really smoothly.)
14. Set boundaries for things and time. (I still struggle with this, but I am getting better.)
Now, it’s time to get some writing done so I can meet Riley for lunch.