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The 10-year-old's reading


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« Q&A: why can't I love this? (Edited) | Main | Q is my 3-year-old fat? »



Babywearing in something other than a Bjorn is not terribly common in my neighborhood (although it's growing). When my daughter was a baby and small toddler I got a lot of comments along the lines of "I *never* see you with a stroller!" (as if that were bad!)

There were also the "Can she breathe?" "Isn't she uncomfortable?" "Aren't YOU uncomfortable?" "Isn't she too big for that?"

But sometimes I'd get a "I did that with my kids"; or "She looks so comfortable/peaceful/happy," and I'd light up like a Christmas tree. Because she was all of those things and so was I. One time in particular I was in a local store (with a tight entrance and tiny aisles, natch) and when I was paying, the clerk looked at my daughter, happily peeping out at her from a mei tai, and said that where she was from (Nepal) every woman wore her babies. I just felt really connected to Motherhood in the larger sense--that I was doing something Universal and Right.


Well, way before the Cheetos and 7-up lunch, way before really, any of it, I had visions of myself as a Perfect Mom. I would *never* do this and my child would *never* eat that. Well. One of those "nevers" was cosleeping. It just wasn't safe, and it was too touchy-feely for my taste, I thought. Then, when my tiny little baby was 4 days old and breastfeeding every 2 hours, I realized that I could either a) get 30 minutes of sleep every 2 hours, or b) cosleep and get roughly 8 hours (or more!) of sleep with little interruptions every two hours. I chose B. In fact, I'm still choosing B, even though my 15-month-old son self-weaned a couple of weeks ago.

My point (Ha.)? I became a mom that I had NEVER envisioned. I became a bit of an attachment parent, a laid-back, almost slacker mom, a mom who is far from Perfect, but perfect for my son. I'm an evolving mom who is growing as a parent as my son grows. I'm not sure exactly when I realized this. It wasn't in those first early weeks, that's for sure. But it was early enough (maybe around 4 months? 5?) that the realization has given me the liberty to actually enjoy being a mom.


I have this little ritual where every second week I take the babe out to lunch somewhere. Originally this was so that he would be "restaurant-friendly" but now that he's 20 mos I guess it's so I can practice my food-inhaling, apologizing to server skills. :-)

Anyways when we first started ordering food for him I would only take him to like, vegan buddhist places, because I didn't want him to have the bad stuff. And then those were too far away so I started taking him to a local in-store cafeteria and getting him steamed veggies. And then one day I got something with french fries and he wanted to try one and I shared... and to my horror he LOVED them.

Except it wasn't exactly horror, because it was so cool to see him get so excited over food. And now occasionally we split an order of fries. Yes, that's terrible - transfats, probably! Bad eating habits! But it's joyful too. I realized that we're a family, not a boot camp for perfect living.

(Although I'm still very pro-broccoli.)


I'm a SAHM, and most days I'm not happy with that. Not that I don't enjoy spending time with my son--esp. these days. He's a riot. Financially it isn't the best for us, but at the same time there are so many obstacles to me going to work.

But when I first started taking my son out on little walks, without his stroller, and he would stop every step or two to climb a rock or touch a fence or manhole or point to something, I realized that all my worries about our future, our finances, while important, shrank to a small, manageable thing to fret about, in the face of those moments together, out on the street, when he was seeing things for the first or third time. I understood what it meant to just be, and what it meant to live in the moment.


The 'prisoner' thing is what my mom called 'being hostage to the fate of my children'. And while it does get better, easier to bear, even well-worn and comfy-feeling at times, it is still there. I've had it rise up and consume me every time my kids have been in the hospital. I can be calm through a surgical procedure, bear up, look like I'm a pro... but boy, if that procedure takes a few minutes longer than usual, the bars go up, and I'm trapped again, pinnioned and bound by that love and fear.

Epiphanies: I don't think I was much aware of the epiphanies as such. Mostly the awareness has just leaked in around the edges as I've gone. Therapy helped, too. Dealing with multiple pregnancy losses helped, in its way. Makes for some perspective.

Probably the first profound shift came when my oldest was diagnosed with croup at 18 months. The relatively young/new NP who saw him panicked at the severity of it (really bad stridor sound, though it turned out not to be life-threatening). She sent us straight to the ER - the local one, because it was 10 minutes closer than the pediatric center. Talk about scared to death. If 10 minutes was significant... I flew. He flopped over limply in the car seat on the way there. I thought he was dying.

And yet, despite my fear, and my need to take care of my child and help him feel safe and everything else that comes with maternal love in desperation mode, I could not let go of what the nurses and doctors might think of me. I didn't hesitate to proclaim my extended nursing status - that, I guessed rightly, would impress them more than distress them. But that night, when the lights went out and my 18-month-old tender-hearted son was locked away from me behind metal rails, I refrained from crawling into the giant crib with him (even though a nurse had said that some parents do). Instead, I dozed all night sitting with my head against the rails, my arms jammed through the bars so he could use my hands as a pillow when he finally exhausted himself from crying.

It wasn't until the next morning, sleep deprived and cramped up, that I said to myself 'screw it' and climbed in with him. Oh, so much better, sitting cross-legged in the croup tent with him, singing silly songs and making him laugh. When the nurse came in, I felt my jaw tighten and my body stiffen into defensive mode. But before I could utter a word of defense, she stopped, looked at me in wonder, and said, 'wow, you're a really great mom.'

Wha? Um. Thanks. And GAH! I let us BOTH be miserable all night because I thought I wouldn't get that 'oh, good mommy' pat on the head if they didn't approve of what he and I both needed? Was it worth it? What was I THINKING? I was horrified, and ashamed of myself. I'd let my child down for the sake of what? Approbation from someone I'd likely never see again?

I still really like it when someone compliments my kids, or me. Hey, hard to dislike it. But I also take it less seriously, too. Their approval is no more realistic than their disapproval (unless they know me well - those compliments I generally take to heart). Most of them don't seem me often, or sometimes ever before or since. They see one microscopic slice of my life, that's hardly basis for any awards, or demerits, either. It is me I have to live with, and my kids, and my DH. They're the votes that count.


Oh, oh, ohhhhh, I don't know what my epiphanies are. The initial ones were all about how much I had in common with other mother/child dyads, and my great connection to the Universal Mothering Experience. Y'all would have probably hated me.

Now the epiphanies are more about my daughter's resilience and my failings, and that we will both survive anyway. And that I can be a good mother despite my failings. Not getting everything right! What a blow!


O man- the discussion here for the past 2 days has been AWESOME. I can't stop looking!
Let me preface my comment with a little info-- I was RELIEVED to go back to work when Mister Nuggles was 3 months old. Even though I said that I resented having to do it, I was happy to be somewhere where I knew what was up and there wasn't this little needy squirmy surprise machine sucking all my energy from my body. I felt like I could breathe and I felt SORRY for my husband who had become the SAHD. Over time, this whole gestalt we created when I went back to work sort of reinforced my feelings until it seemed like the only stuff I was good for was providing boob and doing the housework when I came home. Which I resented, but secretly as I was so much more comfortable doing those tasks (known quantity) because I had gotten to the point where I had absolutely no confidence vis a vis the boy. It wasn't fun taking care of him. I felt like I was one of those dads who *babysits* their own child. Total Suckage. That being said, at around 12 months old, husband goes back to work and MIL moves in (only during the week) to care for the child. And the paradigm is perpetuated. THEN the H's job changes and he starts being out of town Mon-Fri. Things get unpleasent at my home, with a woman I wouldn't choose to be friends with and a whole bunch of guilt because of the nasty thoughts I have about her piled high on my plate. And the support gone. Out of town. And she's there. All the time. Parenting my child. Super total suckage.
Well, back to the question-- last week I had a moment of clarity that I will never forget -- I had convinced MIL that I wouldn't break the boy if she left us alone and went home for the evening. ANd it was as if a huge weight had lifted. Mr. Nuggles and I had the best time. There was no one else around needing attention, no H, no MIL. And we could just be. And it rocked. He fell asleep in my arms and I got to watch A WHOLE MOVIE ALL THE WAY THROUGH. For the first time since he was about 4 months old. I got sleep. And I got a new perspective on this parenting thing. What a difference! It's so easy for me to go back to that place whenever I'm with him now. I look forward to coming home and I actually DO RESENT being at work, away from my little surprise machine. We are a tight little unit now, even when we are not breastfeeding in bed. And H has had all those special months to bond. Probably months that he was better suited for anyway, Mr. Patience.
MIL will start commuting.


Wow, I have to choose just one? I have them on a weekly basis.

This is a little twisted and I still don't undedrstand why I felt what I did... but here goes: I was at the park once with a friend and our 2 two-yr-olds. Friend and I were both about 7 months pregnant. Our little monsters were running in the field and we were standing there chatting when they both made a break for the little gate leading out of the park directly onto a very busy street. Friend and I both took off running, callng after them to STOP! As friend's child was a girl, she immediately obeyed her mother and slowed to a crawl, but my son kept on trucking right out of the gate and onto the sidewalk just 2 feet from the cars whizzing by. You've never seen a big pregnant woman run so fast. I finally caught him and my only urge was to spank the crap out of him for scaring me so. Now, I had never spanked this child, and didn't that day either. But I realized in that moment how strongly I felt about him. It was the sheer terror of the moment that made me want to lash out at him for putting me through that. Of course, I gathered him into my arms instead and crushed him with the weight of my embrace... but it was some primal urge to spank him first that made me realize how important he was to me. Weird, huh?


My Zen moment was after my friend's birth of her son. I had just spent 25 hours at the hospital with her, come home and felt like utter crap. I was insanely jealous of her having just had a baby, but so happy to be the one to be able to "go home" and realized that although I was there for it, I didn't have to breastfeed said newborn, and try to sleep etc.etc.etc.

I walked in the door and my children were sitting on the floor watching tv (8yrs and 4yrs). They said "Hi Mommy!" and I said Hi everyone, I'm tired I think I'll go to bed. And they said "Ok!". And I felt like I was hit with a bolt of lightning. This was "perfect". They were amazing, and everything felt wonderful. They came and snuggled with me in bed and I couldn't have been more eternally grateful for having them in my life. We all fit together like a jigsaw puzzle; rough edges but made for each other.


My wisest moment: I realized that my children will grow up to be imperfect people just like the rest of us. And that's OK!

I had the realization while crying in the shower (it's all so hard, I don't have the energy and the stakes are so high! I have to instill a solid sense of self-respect, love of learning, secure attachment style, etc. Oh, yeah, and manners). Some days I just CAN'T. And then it hit me: nobody can!


A couple of months ago, after being a mother for about a year, I was getting in a snit about how messy my house was/is/will always be now that I have a child. And I had this thought:

I can't be a mother and have a clean house (clean to my ideal satisfaction, that is). I've tried for a year. So, would I rather be a mother or would I rather have a clean house? I'd rather be a mother. Ok, I made my choice and got what I wanted so let the freakin' guilt go already.

The relief lasted a few moments, but I try to think about house tidiness in those terms when I start to get really frazzled. Being a mother is better than having a clean home - that's the mantra. I'd rather have both, but it's just not an option for me.


I think my moment of clarity was when I accepted that I just did not want to be with my kids all the time. I've always had to work, at least part-time, but honestly it was such a relief to head off to work, just the rejuvenation of being able to do what I want, when I wanted (at work, yes, but still - to sit quietly at a desk, to go to the restroom all by myself, to not have to be providing for another all the time). I love my kids, I always wanted to have kids - it was distressing to try to reconcile that with not wanting to be with them all the time... but my epiphany was when I was able to let it go, and say "This is what works for me, and for us. They're well-cared for, and my needs are being met, and we're all better off for it." After that, I found ways to take time for the gym, or for a hobby or night out, with the confidence that it was the right thing to do. My mantra: if mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy.


Huh. I don't think I have had one particular one, most of my Bg Moments ahve been gradual.
Maybe the following: During the tearful conversation (menioned in my comment in the last post) I had with my husband over the standards I am supposed to meet as the modern middle-class mother, it just hit me that THIS IS BULLSHIT. All of it. That there's some rigid parenting style you're supposed to follow (AP or babywise or whatever the next big fad is), that you're supposed to be gorgeous and well-dressed and thin and radiate joy, that you're supposed to also have a full social calendar and the MacLaren stroller and the Subaru Outback or have blue hair and tatoos to show your punk rockitude. Oh yes, and have every male you know think "total MILF" when they see you. That I am supposed to have a better answer than "Her teacher's nice and she enjoys the sand table filled with beans" when asked why I chose my daughter's school. That we shoud be out and about doing all manner of enriching activities every day or she is being shortchanged.

Basically, it hit me what media-created bullshit it ALL is and that I don't like the kind of people who swallow that crap anyway and that EVERY LAST PERSON I know who looks like they are meeting those standards has: a husband who barely has to show up at an office; a job at a company that's so family friendly she'd be nuts NOT to work; or, two sets of grandparents nearby who are retired and eager to help. And those people, my supermom friends, think I am doing a great job just as much as I think they are. Except for one, who I finally realized I don't like all that much.
And I realized no one judges me as harshly as I do myself. Especially, and most importantly, my daughter. She just loves me because I'm her mom--she knows when she needs a set of loving arms, I am there.

I'm just trying to back off on myself a little bit and realize we are ALL doing the best we can with what we've got. I know there are shitty mothers out there, but most of us try really really hard to do right by the little people in our lives. Because of that, I'm trying to see the bullshit for what it is, stay faaarrrr away from people who deal out the judgement and only hang with people who make me feel OK about myself, and cut everybody some damn slack already. Just seeing what a myth it all is was a big moment for me.


I am so proud of all of you! This is so grear to read, and for all of us to give pats on the back...we rock!

This seems so small, but the day I figured out that my daughter would eat anything I speared on a fork...it was one of those - wow, I don't need a book to figure this out, I just need to pay attention to her!

Also, the first time she used her sign language (something my entire family made fun of me for trying), and started communicating with me before she could talk. Soooo cool.

Finally, this morning I woke up at 5 (6am is the alarm). The Bean woke just a few minutes later (yep, we're in sync!), and I brought her into bed and we snuggled for 45 minutes before she decided she wanted to get up. I really love this kid!

pnuts mama

amen, amyinmotown!! i think i've mentioned this before, but my big ah-ha moment was the (mostly) letting go of the judgment thing. i really do believe now that most moms are doing the very best they can and make their choices based on the best information they have. i have learned to let go of thinking less of someone who has made *a different choice than me* because a) i am not the perfect mom and b) i trust that you are making your choices in a similar way as me and c) no choice is universally *right* no drugs during labor? terrific! epidural and then some? good for you! breastfeed? rock on! formula? super! slings? fantastic! stollers? fabulous! co-sleep? yes! crib in another room? yes! no tv in your house? wonderful! tv on all the time? marvelous! you get my drift. i mean, i can't extend all this benevolence to parents who obviously are making choices that will cause or are causing harm to their kid, but i have let go of so much of that comparision with other moms (past, present, future) because ultimately, i figured out that i have so much left to learn about this mommy thing and if i could just get over myself long enough i probably could learn a few things from real life women i know as much as i do here/on the web/in books. plus, i hate being judged, and i decided i needed to stop doing what i don't like.

a smaller a-ha moment is trying to let go of my need for control and learning priorities. parenthood has taught me one of life's greatest lessons- i am not ever going to be in complete control of everything. and that kills me in a way, b/c i reeeeeally like being the boss and getting my own way. but it is also freeing in a way, b/c i get to enjoy my life the way i did when i was a kid with my kid who is so funny and fabulous in ways i never expected to or imagined. consciously choosing what is *really* important and what isn't is great and helps let the little things fall to the wayside. and reminding myself that everyday is filled with a million chances to start over, so stop beating myself up for being such a jerk, have it feed into my continued jerkiness, and choose to be fun again, is so healing, and extending that healing by being as forgiving as i can with myself and my family.

thanks, moxie and everyone, for a wonderful few days of reading!


Oh man. There are so many. One very similar to Hedra's except it was RSV, not croup. Mouse was 21 months and had this cold that just got worse and worse...and then popped a high fever on Day 6. Now, I'd been educated and educated by my doctor mother not to bother doctors with little things. But something seemed wrong and I was scared so I took her in. Basically apologizing to the doctors, saying I was just being a silly mom and worried. I'll never forget when the resident who saw us said "well, actually, she's having quite a bit of trouble breathing" and showed me the signs, which if you know them are very obvious. Turned out Mouse's oxygen saturation was 85%. We went to the hospital in an ambulance, spent 3 days there with oxygen and steroid treatments, and I came home not only exhausted but really shaken in my confidence. How could I not know my darling couldn't breathe? Was I really qualified to care for her?...well, as a wise friend pointed out, my instinct had told me to take her in, and I got her there in time. She got the care she needed and was good as new. It took me months to integrate this (and to stop panicking at every sniffle), but it's true--you just have to be good enough. If I had pediatric or EMT training I might have seen the signs more clearly, but as her mom I knew something was wrong and did the right thing.

Another time that really did it for me was when we were in a really tough stage with bedtime, also somewhere around 20-something months (what is it about that age). Mouse would not get in her crib and insisted on lying on the floor. We were trying to say that we'd only pat her back/sing once she was actually in her crib, and she was really fighting that as only a 2x-month-old can dig in their heels. I lost my cool and yelled at her. And she looked up at me with her big hazel eyes and said "I'm a little bit scaried of mommy"...and I took a big breath and apologized and realized (again) that she is a person who can express herself, not a thing I need to manage. And the fact that she was brave enough to say that to me when I'd just lost it made me think that she was pretty emotionally solid, and my occasional shows of frustration weren't screwing her up forever. We were OK. I gave her a hug and relaxed and we settled it down.


Every single time I do something that I never thought I would do, I think, "Oh yeah. Not perfect. Very flawed and only doing my best. Kind of like everyone else, eh?" Co-sleeping, TV, fast food. Sometimes I do something that I really AM against (like spanking) and I think, "Crap. Still not perfect."

I also have good a-ha moments whenever we have a boring day. A day when we go to the park and play or paint or make a snowman. Whenever we doing those regular, run-of-the-mill things I realize that we ARE okay and the mistakes I make are mistakes that I work to avoid in the future. And that's all I can do.


My mom sent me an article last week, "10 Secrets To Being a Happy Mother of Young Children" (none of which were 'look forward to the day you too can mail your children clippings from the religious magazine of your choice') and one of them hit me where I was stressing: Be a one-of-a-kind mom- make the most of your specific talents. I realized I could let go of trying to be like my mother or my sister or my friends, all of whom seemed to have this mom gene that allowed them to interact with my baby in a way I could not tap into. But being myself with my son? It feels right, and it allowed me to let go and to breathe again.


Wow. I have an 8 month old baby girl and I don't think I've really felt any of these things. I know I'm still new to the game and have plenty of time but to be honest, I pretty much love every minute of it. Yes there are moments at 3 a.m. and she seems to have been up every hour that I get frustrated. But one touch of her little hand on my face and it melts away. I hate having to go to work, though I like my job and won't stop working. I don't feel I struggle to find things to do during the day, although the weather is improving and being able to go outside probably has a lot to do with it.

No I think my frustrations and resentments are aimed more at my DH than at my kiddo these days. And I know I'm not being fair, considering he has made an AMAZING transformation to house husband - he does all the cleaning, almost all the cooking (I try to take it over on weekends) and makes things like pork tenderloin wrapped in filo dough with steamed broccoli on the side and brown rice. Wow!

No, the resentment comes from what I feel is his constant pawing at me. I know it's been 8+ months since the baby was born, but what with pumping twice a day at work and the nursing the moment I walk in the door and the waking several times a night to nurse some more, well, I'm sorry but if you touch my breasts I'm going to kick you in the groin. And I feel terrible about it. But I have absolutely no libido. Zero, zip, and I'm not really feeling worried about it. And yes I understand that my husband has needs and that he is probably going berserk and I am grateful when he fakes an understanding and leaves me alone.

I was raised by Jewish parents. Pretty lax Jews but Jewish none-the-less and there are many centuries of practiced guilt in my DNA. So I feel guilty for all the things I can't do, either for the kid or for the man. But I just can't stop that feeling of resentment, even when I know I'm not being fair.

Someone please tell me that at some point it ends? That desire comes back? That I will want to spend romantic evenings with my husband that I know he is enduring simply to get to the shimmy shimmy bang bang?

Rayne of Terror

There are a lot of benefits of daycare, but there are a lot of pressures too. My son's school puts a lot of emphasis on the children being able to do things for themselves, like socks and shoes (our current "homework"). A hard lesson learned this last week is as long as my husband and I agree on what we're doing, the others can piss off. I'm not going to stress over my 27 month old's lack of interest and ability to dress or undress himself because his school sees it as a "lack of focus" when the other day he accidentally hurt me with a truck, apologized without prompt, and got an ice pack out of the freezer, closed the freezer, and brought the ice pack to me.


Anon, here are a few Ask Moxie posts about post partum sex you might find interesting:






I tried hard not to have pre-set plans, like "I would never do..." before the baby was born, because it's easier to say stuff like that beforehand. But a part of me felt that I needed to have independence and structure while being supportive and secure. And I drove myself crazy with that stuff. I am getting better at letting go nowadays (15 months later!) but it's still a conscious process.

The epiphany moment was about a month ago. I'd just gone back to work, and I was feeling very guilty, because I was "abandoning" my child, and I was feeling defensive whenever anyone asked about my working. And I was frustrated, because I was defensive when I was a stay-at-home, because people kept saying, "You are still at home?" I hated feeling like I was letting someone down either way, and I worried whether I was smothering my son or abandoning him. In the middle of New Jersey somewhere, I suddenly realized, my son loves to cuddle and play with me, and that hasn't changed regardless of whether I was working or not. And my decisions benefit my husband and my child - so who cares what anyone else says?

So it's easier for me to justify working, carrying him in a sling/Bjorn/backpack (you are being mean to the baby!), sleeping in his own room, etc etc, because the only people who matter are my husband and my child. Not my mother, not my mother-in-law, not my colleague, and not my friend, or that lady on the bus.



Early on, I came up with my own Mommy Mantra: Kiddo doesn't need a perfect mommy. He needs ME because I am his mommy. (It also works with partners, I think, although I haven't tried it; and could work in reverse--I don't need a perfect husband, I need X, because he is my husband).

Other great moments have come after reading Hedra's comments here, especially one a few months ago about just digging into the moment and working it through when you and your kid are just not getting along and things are just getting louder and more tense. When those situations arise, and I can find something to break the spiral, and then I see my beautiful boy grab onto it, because he wants to break the spiral,too, or better yet when he says, "Mommy, what if I..." and solves it on his own--that is a great moment.


Charisse, your 'I scaried' moment reminds me of one of my favorite moments, though I didn't count it an epiphany... a few months back, when my kids were collectively growing out from under my parenting skills (again), and I was yelling more and patient less and feeling like I was messing up again and hadn't quite yet figured out that oh, my kids needs have changed and I'm still parenting the yesterday-children and now they're the today-children, oops...

Well, one day, can't now remember how it started, but my oldest looked me in the eye and said, "Mom, you struggle a lot with being a parent, don't you? You're having a real hard time with the yelling. Not doing so great a job of the whole parent thing." (I know the first sentence is word-for-word, the rest is paraphrased.)

My first instinct was OUCH OUCH! MY BELOVED SON THINKS I'M A FAILURE AS A MOM! WAAAHHH... followed immediately by WHOA. My beloved son is confident and secure enough to analyze my parenting, diagnose where my current issue/challenge is, and is unafraid of saying so to my face. Wow, I ROCK! Somehow, I've managed to get him whole and intact to 9 years old, in a way that he's so secure in my love and his voice that he can say that. To me. Without fear or hesitation. And he's not just oblivious, either. Cool.

So, we had a little discussion about what is and is not good parenting, and maybe when he's a parent (presuming much), he'll remember that normal parents struggle, and not beat himself up over missing the mark. He's decided that he's going to have less trouble with yelling than I do, though he thinks he'll have more trouble with something else, instead. Wise boy. Maybe wrong, but wise.


Oh, God, for a minute there I was worrying about whether my run-of-the-mill epiphanies were worth posting. Oh, I have to be *unique* and *interesting* on top of everything else, yadda yadda. Um, forget that.

(1) When T. was 4 months, super-high-need-wouldn't-take-the-bottle-from-anyone, and crying all day in sharecare as I sat on the other side of the door in my home office (I'd negotiated my first few months back working from home), crying all day and comepletely unable to do a minute of work... and I thought: F*** it, this is not right. I'd never wanted to be one of those women who used up every minute of her maternity leave and then up and quit - how selfish! - but here I was. And it wasn't about selfish, it was the right thing to do for my kid. (And for me, yeah.) He just wasn't ready, and neither was I.

I talked with DH, who - bless him - totally Got It. We'd figure out the money and make it work. The next day, I notified my boss, laid off the nanny (who wasn't a good fit anyway), gave away the bottles and the pump. A lot of people weren't happy - oh, well. I wouldn't have the perfect balance I envisioned between work and baby. Oh, well. For the first time, or near to it, I just didn't care what people thought. Halelujah... some kind of freedom.


I had a small *wise* moment this morning in the daycare. I went to drop my son a little early because I wanted to talk to his teacher. I was telling her I was not going to bring more breastmilk for my son's cereal because I was not pumping anymore. And giving her lots of explanations (the guilt shows up again). To want she replies with sad voice *oh, J just loves his cereals with breastmilk* (hate her at that moment, I didn't need help feeling guilty).

There was another mom in the room listening to our conversation an she asked *How old is J?* *6.5 months* I answer. She looked at me and said *yes, that's as far as I could get too* and smiled. She didn't give any further explanation and I realize I was thinking badly of her at all. I think his child is great and she's doing a terrific job. And she wasn't judging me either. So why was I?

It hasn't completly cure the whole *guilty for giving up breastfeeding* thing but it made me think about it from a different perspective. I just LOVE that mom!


Hm. I think the hardest thing for me – and as a result the biggest epiphany so far – is that I can’t control my child. I am well aware that I can’t control other people (my husband in particular), but for some reason I spent quite a bit of time in the early months thinking that if I could just figure out how my DS “worked” I could “fix” the problem. Not realizing I suppose that he is not an extension of my own body, but from the moment of conception a separate individual who has his own ideas, feelings and needs.

Though sometimes it feels like he “needs” to be contrary to what it is I “need” him to do at any particular moment (increasing by the minute as he approaches his 18 mo b-day)….I try to remind myself to roll with it. What he needs is to be his own person, to make and then voice his own decisions. Yes, he may be hungry, and yes, I may be trying to offer him food. But until he decides on his own that he is ready to eat, I might as well be asking him in Swahili to unload the dishwasher.

I struggle not to define him as a “difficult” eater. He is just a different eater than I am. He likes food when he’s hungry, and the minute the edge is taken off, he’s done (unlike me, who can – and will – shovel it in LONG after my body has signaled “full”). Once I made my peace with this fact, I backed WAAAY off and started offering him choices. If he wants to eat – Great! If not, that’s perfectly acceptable as well. He won’t starve, and he will still have a relatively decent night’s sleep (who am I kidding, it’s my sleep I’m more concerned about than his.)

And at night for his nighttime bottle, instead of me taking the paci out of his mouth and poking the bottle in – which might or might not garner much outrage and hunger striking – I ask him, “Are you ready for your milk? Will you take your paci out and give it to Mommy?” and sure enough, when he’s ready, he pops that sucker out, hands it to me with great grace and manners, and opens wide. It might not be right away, I might have to ask a couple times……but I figured out that my son prefers to be invited to the table as opposed to chained to it.

If you were to chain me to the table….well, I’d probably be very interested to hear what you had on the menu.


My big one was quite simple. I was alone, in a foreign country, with a premature baby and I was embarassed about how dirty, and disorganised my house was. I hadn't had a shower in days. I was sleep deprived and trying to deal with my baby's reflux. The complete and utter feeling of being entriely overwhelmed was suffocating. Then I looked down at my son nursing and I realised that some day, in the near future I would never nurse a baby of my own again. I would never be able to nuzzle their silky head. I would have children, then teenagers, then adults and not babies. An incredible sadness swept over me and I realised that, I *had* cherish these moments and live in the present.

Live in the now.

I've had others but, this is the one that one that reasonates the most. That little baby will be four in July. I don't know where the time has gone.


Clouds parted and the sun started shining into my brain, enlightening me about motherhood, as the result of reading a blog post here on Judgment and Judging.

I read all the comments, posted one myself, in which I explained in what situations I felt the right to judge. Then days passed, and it all sunk in slowly, how most people were judging themselves as much as others at some point in their lives, how it related to lack of self confidence 99% of the times, how we tend to be even harsher on ourselves than with other parents... and then I realised that my answer to the post had already changed in my mind, thanks to discussing this important topic with very bright and kind and respectful women, all of you. I realised I was doing the best I could, others too, and there.is.no.trophee.for.best.parent. Because we each are best parent to our own child and I am doing "this for myself, my husband and our son. Why that became clear in my mind only when my son was 18 months old I am not sure of and quite sad. But at least I finally accpeted it as a fact. I don't have friends who are parents in "real" life, except my husband and we discuss stuff a lot, but I have all the great people on Ask Moxie. Thanks to you all. If I ever get a friend who has a baby or my sister gets her wish granted, I will try to be as good to them as you all have been good to me, so it does not take them 18 months to have an epiphany moment on parenting.


A moment of clarity, huh?

Well, when the boy gets a stomach bug, and I find myself looking forward to having a nice day alone with him at home) with a sheet down on the rug for the next time he boils over), I realize that I must love him an awful lot. It doesn't make it any more fun to get barfed on, but it makes me realize that something in me just wants to be near him...even on the days when I don't realize it on the outside.

But a really flash moment of clarity came one night when I was holding him, rocking and trying to help him go to speel as he cried and fidgeted. He really wanted to be left alone to go to sleep, but got upset when I left him alone (wasn't quite there yet - but has since gotten there on his own, horay!). So I was doing the cuddle/rock/bounce thing...and after a while, as I was getting frustrated- and so was he - it occurred to me that my job right then was to be steady for him. He was little, and agitated, and "disorganized" - and it was up to me to give him something steady and safe to push against until he got it out of his system. It wasn't my job to be right, or to have the answers - it was just my job to take a deep breath and be solid and reliable for the next 20 minutes or so. After that, the rest of the night was easy.

Now, that doesn't mean that IT is easy, or that all of it is easy. This is the hardest thing I've ever done. And I'm not steady most of the time - and I often resent having to be steady when what I want is to be sleeping, or to have a nice loud fit.

In fact, my husband and I were just dicussing how angry I seem to be these days - how quickly I get angry, how often, how suddenly, how deeply. I don't know what's behind it. Is there such a thing as post-partum anger? At 16 months??


Thank you all. My baby, was by all accounts, an easy baby. Oh, sure, he didn't sleep through the night (ie more than 5/6 hours) consistently until after 6months - I said easy - not saintly - but he didn't have colic, wasn't fussy, etc. I had an "easy baby" and I felt and feel like a mess sometimes. When people asked how it was going I'd say, "He's an easy baby, but it isn't easy." Of course, I also fretted that I didn't want to be blaiming him. Just a baby afterall. But.. near as I can tell these last 19 months, plus the "this is for real" part of pregnancy have all just been a constant identity (and/or expectations) struggle/readjustment.


Kristin, anger (or rage) can be part of depression - PPD or otherwise; my meds helped my rage dramatically - of course, sleep does too, and I didn't realize how sleep deprived I was (am). Good luck, I've been there. (or, ah, am there...)

Anyway, epiphanies. I don't really like this one, but it's true. The Boy was almost a year, crying, demanding to be walked to sleep yet again, and I was so tired and frustrated and angry and miserable that I just cried at him "stop crying, just stop" and my hand tightened where I was holding his heel. I stopped just short of scary-too-hard. And I stopped, and realized I was losing it. Big time. A month later, I was on depression meds and edging back to sanity. (corollary epiphany: wow, I didn't dislike motherhood so much when I wasn't depressed!)

Another one was, finding a clipping I'd torn out of a magazine that said: children of working moms were polled and picked a) mom being less stressed over b) mom being around more. That gave me the courage to drop The Boy off with less guilt at the grandparents' when I needed a break. (Even though I work. Guilt! Guilt!)

I guess the ongoing epiphany is realizing, over and over, that I am allowed to ask for help. From the grandparents, from other moms, from my sisters, from my husband, even from The Boy. He went through a particularly MOMMMMM phase a few months ago (about 3 1/2 yrs) - only Mom could get his drink, wipe his nose, etc. even though Dad offered - and finally I said, "Honey, I need you to let Dad help: I can't do everything at once!" (not verbatim) And he helps in other ways too. Help? Is ok. Is good, even.

Mindy Fitch

I had a little moment of clarity just this week! This year was really tough (but enriching, of course!) for my husband: his first year as a full-time teacher in charge of a wild bunch of third graders, and he became a father a month after school began. His teaching position was “temporary,” but we thought for sure he would be rehired because he works well with everyone, is so dedicated to his students, and just really put his heart (and virtually all his waking hours) into it. We found out last Friday, however, that the principal decided to go with someone else next year, so he’s out of a job. Naturally this was disheartening on all sorts of levels, not least because we live in Portland, where competition is intense for teaching jobs. Therefore Jason and I spent last weekend completely immobilized and depressed but trying our best not to be outwardly melodramatic for the sake of our six-month-old daughter. But then a couple of days ago I woke up from another anxiety dream and decided I was going to try taking my cues from my baby instead of the other way around. She doesn't care about principals and job hunting, she just wants to put that tambourine in her mouth, then drink some milk, then suck on her foot and maybe pee on the floor. So that's what we did, more or less. And after she fell asleep that night I made my husband put away his work and make out with me on the couch.


During the first 10 months or so, I was an anxious reck, trying to be the perfect Mom and trying to get my daughter to fit a mold she wasn't going to fit.

I lost it one day and gave her to my husband. She and I were just constantly "fighting" one another. So I sat on the stairs and watched her and my husband play.

He is not a tense guy and when she sensed that about him, she changed on a dime. She was happy and smiley and playing.

I could have bashed myself, saying I would never be good enough for her. Instead I said, wow, I need to lighten UP!

AND, my husband has so much to give because his gifts and talents are different then mine. It took a weight off my shoulders that she will be OK because all the people in her life will influence her positively—in ways I never could.

It really does take a village…


In so many ways, I've felt my body has failed me. PCOS, infertility, miscarriage, overweight, on and on I felt the tally of the ways it let me down weighing on me. Emily was a week old when a nurse told me my body was failing at breastfeeding too, that I was starving her, that I needed to start formula RIGHT. NOW.

Instead I talked to the pediatrician, I suggested pumping, an SNS, feeding her what I pumped and then putting her at the breast -whatever it took because I was NOT giving up on something so important to me, to her, to us.

When she was 20 months, we all got a HORRIBLE stomach flu. My husband I were both treated in the ER for dehydration, and Emily - she had it bad, but I lost track of how many doctors and nurses said to me "you kept her going." She couldn't keep anything down but my breastmilk, but she did keep it down, and she didn't get dehydrated. My supply, almost completely gone because we'd been weaning, rebounded while she was sick to nourish her completely for DAYS.

My body did that. I did that. When it was really, really important - my body didn't fail either of us, and it wouldn't have had that opportunity if I hadn't had so much faith early on that it COULD do that.

Emmie (Better Make It A Double)

I think a big epiphany for me was realizing one of the great benefits of having multiples: I know that we don't control as much as we think we do. I had one colicky kid, one not, one great sleeper, one not-so-much, one whiner, one fairly polite toddler, one who doesn't separate easily, one who always has, etc, etc, etc. There are many things that are harder about raising twins, but I do think I get to beat myself up a wee bit less ( and take a little les judgemnet laden credit) by learning early on what it takes some moms a few kids to learn, namely that, as one of my own commenters put it recently: "[how they turn out is] something like 75% personality and 20% parenting and 5% grace."


Reading these posts is pure therapy. My 6 month old does not nap well, does not sleep well at night, and won't take a bottle even as Daycare looms a few short months away. I am exhausted with horrible thoughts of just leaving her in the crib smtimes so I can just, please God, get 20 mins of sleep. And then she smiles at me and squirms with delight to get into my arms. I forget everything and force myself through another day ...


Motherhood is the only thing that has ever been exactly what I wanted when I actually got it, and I have my sister-in-law to thank for teaching me that.

Her son's carseat was not safe, and I tried to talk to her about it. We bought them a new seat that was safe, and they refused to use it properly. In the end, she told me that all she wanted was for people to stop telling her what to do. It turns out that she was so angry that I was judging her that she would sooner let her son ride in this unsafe seat.

At that point, I realized that I'm not sensitive about my parenting. I don't care what you think about the choices I make. Well before my daughter's birth, I read and learned and decided what was non-negotiable in my parenting (carseats among other things) and what I wasn't going to stress about (sugar, allergens, and others). For 14 months, this has gone really well for us.


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  • My expertise is in helping people be who they want to be, with a specialty in how being a parent fits into everything else. I like people. I like parents. I think you're doing a fantastic job. The nitty-gritty of what you do with your kids is up to you, although I'm happy to post questions here to get data points of how you could try approaching different stages, because, let's face it, this shit is hard. As for me, I have two kids who sleep through the night and can tie their own shoes. I've been a married SAHM, a married freelance WAHM, a divorcing WOHM, a divorced WOHM, and now a WAHM again. I'm not buying the Mommy Wars and I'll come sit next to you no matter how you're feeding your kid. When in doubt, follow the money trail. And don't believe the hype.
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