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.

Big Days for the Little People (and me)

Part I

Adrian said goodbye to his pacifier this weekend!  A little earlier than we had anticipated, but we had to jump the gun when the state of his current paci rendered it useless (peanut butter somehow got inside of it…).  So we all piled into the car and headed out to Toys-R-Us.  To help Riley give up her paci, we got her a scooter.  To help ease Adrian’s transition and look forward to the summer, we got him a sandbox.  Strapped it on the car, and off we went!  At home, we told Adrian he would have to surrender his paci so we could open his present.  No hesitation there.  Then we ate dinner, the kids played in the sandbox, and we did bath time.  Such a nice, enjoyable family night!

Then bedtime hit.  And Adrian realized what he had surrendered.  Let’s just say it was a long night.  We’ll see how night two goes.  I have to say, I am thrilled by how communicative he is now that he doesn’t have his paci.  He seems so grown-up, such a big boy in just a day!

Part II

Riley went to her Pre-K orientation this morning.  To celebrate, we had bagels at Panera for breakfast.  All morning, she kept saying, “Today is a really big day for me.  I’m getting so big.”  And she is right.  At the school, we got to see both classrooms and watch one class in action for about five minutes.  We were probably only there for 30 minutes max.  Unfortunately, because it was so quick, I didn’t think of any questions until after we left.  Now I have a ton!  How much art time?  Homework?

Reflective Ramblings… 

I get that this was just orientation and that she is only starting Pre-K, but I have to admit this upcoming transition to her starting public school and driving to work with Shawn has me a little sad.  I have loved our time together in the mornings (well, maybe not every morning but most, definitely most).  And sure I will be up when she leaves in the fall (and probably still help get her dressed, washed, hair brushed, etc.), but it won’t be the same.  I already know I will have a hard time with our kids getting older.  Already, they are all growing so fast.  I need my remote control button for life.  I want to pause, linger on these sweet, crazy, full to bursting moments when all three of them are so adorable and close and mostly ours.  Next year, Riley will have 22 kids in her class instead of just 10.  She’ll have a new teacher.  She’ll have a new school of influences and experiences raining down on her.  She’ll have more thoughts and ideas and start to become even more of a separate person, an individual.  And I am thrilled about that, thrilled about all of the learning and experiences and fun and challenges life is going to start offering up to her – oysters everywhere.  But that means she is going to need me less, and that’s what scares me.  Finally, maybe in the last two months or so, I finally really feel like a mom.  And I love being a mom.  I love caring for, thinking about, talking to, cuddling with, and loving my children.  I know these activities will continue, but I am more aware of how fragile, how quick, how sweet this time is.  Right now.  And I just want it to last a little longer.  A lot longer.  Maybe forever.

Part III

Sidney tried her first spoonful or so of rice cereal.  She laughed and barely ate any of it, which was pretty much what I expected.

Part IV

Tomorrow is my last big day for the semester (attending class and teaching).  I am in the home-stretch!  My classes have been terrific, and I am sorry to see them end (though I do need a bit of a break…).  Really, if all my semesters are like my last two with amazing teachers, reading lists, peers, and discussions, I will be quite happy!

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