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Entries in motherhood (5)


The Tale of Two Moms at the Airport

Two moms navigate an airport with their small children.

The first mom stands in line at Pot Belly, her shirt moves slightly as she raises her arm revealing a small sweat stain. She's sweating. The boy, around four, begins to walk away from her as she orders food. She calls after, "Son, remember the 10 foot rule." The boy doesn't slow, doesn't turn around, but instead picks up his pace, and only turns his head slightly with his eyebrows raised as he turns a corner to head out of her sight. She's holding a younger child in one of those contraptions you have attached to your body. The toddler looks happy, until the boy heads out of sight, then she begins to let out loud shrieks, "Brodder! Brodder!" She's smacking the mom's face and begins to pull her hair.

The frazzled mom, pauses, then hurries after the boy. "I said, STOP! Turn around now, our food is waiting and we need to pay." She mutters under her breath, "I'm hungry." The boy begins to run away. The airport is mostly desserted, so there are not people at any of the gates he is running towards. The woman seems to survey for open doors and stays where she is before moving briskly towards him. "Stop now! Or you will your favorite airplane." The boy comes back, hands her the plane and runs away again. "Stop now. We need to stick together or we are not getting on this plane. I'll cancel our trip. I'm serious. This is my serious voice." The little boy smiles. The toddler attached to the mom bellows, "Out, please! Now!!!!"

The mom tries to convince the boy to come with her. He's running, the toddler is getting louder and louder. The mom can't seem to calm or control anyone. Her voice is louder, but it's not effective. People around her wonder if she ever has control of the situation. An older woman quips, "They let anyone be parents these days." Construction workers in the area roll their eyes. And two young business women survey her "mom jeans" and mismatched socks as she reaches for her phone. "That's it, I'm calling American Airlines and canceling the trip. If we cannot be a team at the airport there is no one I am going to be trapped on a plane..." The little boy comes back, smiling, looking like Ashton Kutcher as he used to run out on Punk'd to tell people everything was just a joke. "Okay, okay, Mom. I'm here." He stands by her side and she breathes out. She had no idea what she was going to do if she made it all the way to calling the airline. She tries not to make eye contact with the other airport patrons who are watching her children and her like there are some sort of exhibit at the National Zoo.

The other mom breezes through security with her two young children. She's wearing the young girl attached to her and kisses the toddler's head as they wait patiently for TSA to swab the mom's hands. She smiles, holds out her hands and the agent asks, "How did you know we'd test your hands?" She quickly responds, "You always test moms wearing babies." The agents laugh. The young boy walks a few feet away. "Excuse me, sir, remember our team sticks together. What's the rule?" The little boy smiles and runs back to his mom. "At the zoo, it's never get out of mommy's sight. Is the airport the same?" The agents comment on how great the kids are and how together the mom is and send her on her way.

The kids are singing an alphabet song and laughing. As they walk together, the mom and kids are making the sounds of each letter. The mom suggests a game. "Let's play number scavenger hunt at the airport!" The little girl in the Ergo yells, "Yeah!" as her brother beams, "What numbers?"

The mom cheerily calls out, "C14!" The little girl asks to get down. "Out, please!" The mom lets her down and the two children hold hands and run together to C14. The mom happily follows. "Great, now, how about C6?" The little girl asks to get in the stroller and her brother pushes her. The game lasts a while then the small family heads to the bathroom. There the mom begins asking what each child's favorite letter is as she changes the toddler's diaper with ease, and the three of them sing out words beginning with each child's favorite letter. "D is for daddy and dandelion and daisy and doggie!" Each of them smiles, two older women come out of the bathroom, watch, remembering raising their own young children and compliment the mom on her parenting and the children on their exceptional behavior for small children. They went as far as to suggest she get the nobel peace prize for parenting.

Each of these moms is me. All of those children are mine. At any given moment, you may meet any combination of us. Being a mom is amazing and messy. Often, simultaneously.


Parenting: It Gets Funnier

Congratulations - you are a mom! First and foremost, you are awesome. You probably deserve a mother of the year award, but chances are, you will not not receive one. Or if you do, it will likely be from a spam site that is trying to steal your social security number.

There are a million variations of parenting and loving that you will discover over the coming months and years. They are all wrong. There is an academic journal article that will discredit every choice you make. And every correction you might consider making. You are Facebook friends with the only person who has ever read these obscure articles. Trust your instincts. Sometimes you will know the exact right thing to do. Other times, not so much. Be ready to mess up and own up, a lot. I once called the pediatrician after I dropped a camera on my newborn's head. I could barely speak, I was crying so hard. The doctor stopped me, "Mrs. Llorens, Noah isn't crying. I only hear you crying."

Here is the best parenting advice you will ever receive from a mom (with two data points, thus making her an expert):

1. You're going to get pooped and peed on. It will not be funny in the moment but I promise: the memory will get funnier and funnier over time. My son once peed onto his own face moments after I thought to myself: "I've totally got this." Scrambling to do something about it, I shot breastmilk all over our couch because I was new to breastfeeding and forgot my breast was out. I cried at the time. Now? Hilarious.

2. It will get funnier with time. Even colic can be funny a few years off. My first born cried from 8-12 or 1 am for about 7 weeks straight. It sucked, but I repeated over and over "You are loved, you are safe" (to myself?), cuddling him while he screamed his head off. I can't help but giggle thinking about all of the parental acrobatics suggested by the happiest baby on the block techniques, which failed spectacularly. I am pretty sure I googled "Can my baby go deaf from sushing?" more than once.

3. Stay away from competitive moms. You'll recognize them by their ability to simultaneously be happier and more miserable than you. Their kids are either way more difficult or way more awesome than yours, depending on the Facebook comment they are responding to. Their partner is either Dad of the Year or doesn't help at all, depending on the gush or complaint being volleyed. They love percentiles from their doctor's office. Run. Do not engage. Their kid will eventually eat their own shit too. Or at least "taste" it.

4. Some moms have it way more together than you. You'll just have to deal with that one.

5. If you breastfeed, at some point you will forget your boob is out in public after your baby finishes. On a roadtrip to New York when my son was 9 months old, I nursed him in the car before heading in to a rest stop to pee. I caught a glimpse of myself in the window of another car and realized that my left boob was completely out of my shirt. People will be nicer about your boob hanging out than they will be about breastfeeding your hungry infant.

6. Ask for help. People are totally willing to help.

7. Don't ask for help. People are not good at helping.

8. Make fun of people that judge your parenting choices. Preferably to their face, but behind their back, if you must. More times than not, judgmental people are just insecure with their own choices. This is your gig. Do it with your own flair.

9. It is okay to feel like your child/children are the most beautiful children in the world. It is also okay that it isn't true.

10. Some Starbucks locations have drive-thrus. They were invented for moms. If the baristas at Starbucks don't know your order upon hearing your voice in the drive-thru, you're not doing it right.

11. It gets better. Like any other job, you'll get better at parenting as you go along. And whatever weird/obnoxious thing your kid is doing: this too shall pass. One day you'll wake up and they'll be on to the next weird/obnoxious thing (probably right after you figure out how to deal with that last one, but hey). The lows will be close to rock bottom, but the highs will be higher than you imagined.

12. Switch it up. Skip the bedtime routine sometimes and take them out for ice cream instead. We went through a rough patch with our son when he was two years old where it would sometimes take him hours to finally go to sleep. One night, with my husband away on work travel, I made a random decision to ditch the bedtime routine and take our wired toddler out to a local custard place. We laughed, ate a little bit and then he fell asleep on the car ride home. It is one of the moments I am most proud of as a mother. I won all around, and I got to eat ice cream!

13. When all else fails, sing "The Greatest Love of All" at the top of your lungs to your children. They will love it. Or they won't but it is almost impossible not to enjoy each moment when you are channeling your inner Whitney Houston.

Follow these easy steps and you too can dub yourself a Professional Mom. Now that you're a pro, you'll be surprised at how easy it is to laugh at all those amateur mistakes you're still making.


The day you were born

Sometimes when I'm cuddling Noah to sleep at night we talk about random things and we tell stories.  Every so often, I listen to him talking and I remember the day he was born.  Last night, like many nights before, I decided to tell him the story about the day he was born.  I made it to the part where he and I were about to look each other in the eyes for the first time.  

I laid there with my two and a half year old with my heart swelling with love for him thinking about how I still see that tiny little adorable baby staring back at me when he looks me in the eyes now.  The little boy that would change my life forever.  The little boy that would teach me to reach to places in my heart I didn't know were possible. 

"And then Mommy lifted you up and looked at you and our eyes locked..."

Noah came in close to me and my eyes started to tear because here we were all this time later.  All these sleepless nights and belly laughs and firsts and happiness and here we were face to face again.

He smiled, got so close to my face I could feel his warm breath and then he yelled at the top of his lungs...

"Mommy, make cookies now.  I'm hungry make food, NOW!  Please Mommy."


Parent blamers: You suck more than I do

If parenting is an art, parent blame is the act of taking up random data points and chance happenings and calling them scientific fact.  I often read articles explaining why American parenting sucks and tiger moms are great, french moms are great, conservative parents are great, attachment parents are great, naked dancing parents are great, and everyone else is setting their children up for failure.

Oftentimes these articles find one or two data points and then run with the idea that an entire parenting style is amazing or sucky.  

I've always been cautious and skeptical of the advice I get from other parents.  9 times out of 9 times the advice I've gotten has been from a parent that is feeding me what worked for their child or children or if they aren't parents some parenting technique they read about or grew up with.  9 out of 9 times, I smile or ignore or gossip to my husband later.  Sometimes, if my child is similar the advice works.  Oftentimes, it's not applicable.  There is nothing wrong with finding something wonderful that works for your family and being proud of it.  There is something fundamentally wrong with expecting it to work for everyone else.

I have news for you, parent blamers who secretly or openly shake your head at parents like me, you're not any more amazing at parenting than I am.  I know this is going to be hard to swallow, but just because your kid sits quietly eating Tilapia and broccoli at a restaurant while my husband and I switch off trying to bribe our toddler to eat pizza and cookies as he runs away from us doesn't mean you have the magical answer to parenting.  It also doesn't mean that he didn't sit quietly at restaurants all around the country and in London when he was younger.  It doesn't mean he wasn't exposed to restaurants.  It doesn't mean we give him keys to our Prius and ask him to guide us through life.  Although I wouldn't mind having a chauffer.  

We too used to consider ourselves magic parents.  Our toddler has been on something like 30 round trip flights and never once have we been those people with the screaming child.  I'd love to tell you that it's because I rock as a parent.  But a lot of it has to do with the fact that he's been on tons of airplanes, the pressure doesn't seem to bother him and he finds strangers completely entertaining.  He's a social being so seeing 80 people that have to sit there and stare back at him has always kept him quite entertained.

He's always super happy and loving, and at times, I would love to say this is all our parenting.  As a stay-at-home-mom who doesn't get raises, yearly reviews or surprise bonuses, I'd love to say that my child's heart is full of love for the world because I am that amazing.  The truth is, I really am.  I have talked to him since the day he was born and I have told him and showed him how loved he is every day.  Even on days where when he was 20 months old he held me hostage in the car because he was smart enough to get out of the 5 point harness on the car seat no matter how tight it was.  Ever been driving 50 miles an hour and had a toddler climb into the front seat?  Scary doesn't even begin to describe it.  After I composed myself from the frazzle of that experience he still went to bed the way he has almost every day of his life.  Being told he was loved and being shown that my husband and I will love him no matter what.  We are not completely responsible for the love and light that illuminates from him although we try our hardest to make sure we keep him on a path that supports his wonderful spirit.

There are times, where my husband and I have patted ourselves on our backs as our child represents all that is right and good in the world, and then at 3 am when he is running circles around our living room we have said to each other, "Doesn't he know we're magic parents and this isn't supposed to happen?"

We're just like anyone else.  Except we have a very bright, very spirited child.  Our goal as parents is to set boundaries without breaking his spirit.  Have you ever met an adult with a broken spirit?  Nothing in life is sadder than someone that once had light and love beaming from their body only to be bitter and broken down later in life.  

I have two data points so I feel really confident asserting to you parent blamers of the world that you're full of self indulgent dog poop.  My first baby had to be held all night because he had reflux and it was horrible if he wasn't held upright all night and the only way for me to sleep too is if I sat up holding him.  Crib slanting be damned, nothing else worked.  At two and a half he still has really bad reflux that sometimes means he doesn't eat as much as he should and it wakes him up at night or sometimes when he does eat a lot it wakes him up too.

Our two month old has a mild form of reflux and can be put down as long as I wait about 15 minutes after a feeding in the night.  Sometimes she wants to be put down to kick and play or fall asleep on her own.  She's her own person with the same loving mother as my son.  I still respond to every cry she makes, but sometimes she wants to soothe herself.  Neither child means I rock or suck.  They are each proof that I am trying with everything I have to raise to loving, open-minded, and internally beautiful children.

So suck it with the parent blame.  I'm sick of reading about how parenting this way or that yields results A or B.  As I've said before on this blog about parenting Noah, "I know ultimately if he turns out to be an amazing person, his genes, schools, and chance will be credited. If he turns out to be a delinquent, my inadequacies as a mother will likely be the first point of blame." So when one of my children is President and the other is an Astronaut you better be ready to give me mad props for my stellar parenting skills that managed to show them love and boundaries without breaking their spirits.  You better be ready to give me a shout out for waking up and cuddling them no matter what was going on in the middle or the night.  You better be ready to sing my praises for making them any meal they request despite what we were already having for dinner.  Or you better be willing to shake your head secretly in the privacy of your own home when they both end up in prison. 


Not a New Year's Resolution Post: Bye Bye Dairy, Peanut Butter and Eggs

This is not a new year's resolution post.  Baby M has been dealing with a skin irriation on her face for a couple of weeks, and within the last few days it seems to have peaked.  She's a pretty easy-going baby.  Besides crying from 6-9 or 11 every night she normally doesn't cry much at all.  She's grunts when she's hungry in the night and so last night when she cried most of the night, I had to assume it was related to the now very red almost sunburned looking irritation on her face, neck and head.

When I took her to her pediatrician today, the pediatrician confirmed that the irriation was still baby acne but also now looked like borderline or a mild case of eczema.  She told me to keep treating it the way we have been by mixing in hydrocortisone with some lotion for her.  Then she looked at me, and smiled the way she always smiles when she's going to suggest something she thinks might upset me.  "I'd like you to cut out milk, peanut butter and eggs for a few weeks to see if her skin gets better.  If it does you can try reintroducing those things in small amounts back into your diet."  She went on to verify that I knew it meant no cheese, milk, yogurt, etc.  

So here I am, preparing myself mentally and emotionally for the upcoming weeks.  Cheese and milk are two of my favorite things to consume.  But I love my baby more than I love food so here we go.  I'm hoping a side effect of this new diet is some weightloss for me because how can I eat late night oreos without a tall cold glass of milk?