Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Parenting Philosophical Society (and GHB at 9 months!)

Everyone is a Parenting Philosopher. You're doing what? Oh! Here's how I did it! According to this book/ article/ medical journal... You need to vaccinate/ I can't believe you're vaccinating. Cry it out? Yes way/ no way!

"Should she be chewing on that??"
I did not read any baby books while pregnant. It helped me not get anxious over unknowns and I learned to enjoy being pregnant (yes, even with all the nausea). I did read Bringing Up Bebe, which confirmed to me that letting kids play on their own is a good thing and for less helicopter parenting and more zone defense. But I knew that as a sister of five siblings and, later, a nanny. I like experience over theory; I like possibility over expectation. I was as ready for my sweet bebe as I was going to be, when the time came.

When did I really feel like a mother?

I ponder this question often. GHB turns 9 months today!!!!, and I am so crazy in love with this kid, Jay-Z and Beyonce are going to be jelly. She gets up in the morning and cries out till someone picks her up (thanks Will!), and when she sees me, she glows. There is nothing like the unconditional love glow of your baby every single time she sees you.

I knew I was a mother when, at 6 am of September 26 (Grace was born at 1:30, they took her away at 3 a.m., left me in a well-lit room until 5:30 am), the nurses brought her into me for a feeding just as I was drifting off to sleep.

My baby!! Sleeping while I'm awake. Typical.
REALLY, CHILD? I thought. MAMA SO SLEEPY. Then I touched her. She was my daughter? She responded to my touch. I brought her against me and fed her. When she was done, I put her back in her bassinet and when I tried to adjust my bed (for future notice, I like to sleep horizontal), she woke up. So I cradled her in my arms until the nurse came back to retrieve her to the hospital nursery so I could theoretically get more sleep. She snuggled against me and I just could not stop staring at that beautiful little bebe: my baby.

That's when I first felt like a mother: sacrificing my happiness for hers.

I feel like a mother because I care for Grace. I feed her, I dress her, I play with her, I read her books, and I take her almost everywhere I roam. Fortunately for me, she is a solid traveler. Unfortunately for me, she requires her own caravan and servants. Aha-kidding. I am her caravan.

I feel like a mother because I take responsibility for Grace. Guess who takes her to her doctor's appointments? Me. Guess who makes sure she gets Vitamin D? Me. Guess who does physical therapy with her? Me. Guess who gets up in the middle of the night when she's crying loudly or teething? Me again!

Beyonce moves during therapy
This morning, we attended breakfast with Will before his intern orientation lectures began. A fellow EM resident rushed over and gushed over Grace, before swooping her away to two other residents who, in turn spent the next 20 minutes passing her around, until she knocked over someone's cup of coffee. Oops.That child is mine. (May I get you more coffee??) I was very proud of her for allowing the women to hold her, and not getting her T-Rex look that usually comes with her stranger anxiety.

I feel like motherhood is looked at very conceptually: Am I ready? Or not? Sometimes, it is a clear answer. Othertimes, there is the invariable waffling because parenthood seems so inevitable, yet daunting.

I drove Will up the wall (I'm sure) the first few months of Grace's life, asking him how he felt about Grace. He loved her, fine, but how did he feel. Elation? Joy? Excitement?!

Happy? Okay, I can accept "happy"...

I'm happy too. I'm happy to be married to Will, I'm happy to be Grace's mom, and I'm happy with myself. At least, I am trying reallyreallyreally hard to be happy with myself.

I passed positive graffiti in the car today: "Love Yourself."

Yes, res publica! Love yourself! Note to self: not everyone feels as deeply as I do. And I feel deeply for Grace. I'm tardy on her month sticker pictures, I forget to write down her milestones, but I'm experiencing every day with her, and she teaches me so much. She shows me determination and she shows me sass.

So why have I been guilt-tripping myself on all the writing I don't do?

"No One Sleeps While I'm Awake" -- The Sounds (bedtime theme song)

I suppose, we humans like to show what we're capable of. We like to show what we can do. I know I do. And I am sharing this struggle with non-outside world productivity because I'm discovering that what I'm really doing these days is teaching Grace about love. Grace knows we love her, and she loves us - she loves us so much that she took a nap with me in bed this morning instead of in her crib. (Did I mention she has a total softy for a mother?)

And when I'm given advice, I know it usually comes from a place of love and a love of sharing one's knowledge to help better the world. Parenthood is not for the faint of heart. There will be crying and poopy diapers and weird rashes and the need/want to shower. There will be a baby in first place, always, who needs her mother to cares about herself too; loves herself too.

It is not enough to love your children. You must love yourself. This means learning to make mistakes and not taking everything personally. Different parenting techniques are not a reflection on you as a "bad" parent. If you're even trying to contribute to your child's happiness, you are already a "good" parent. We all have different roads we walk - why do we all want our children and problems to look the same, and be so easy to master.

I am not saying being sleep deprived has made me a better person. Lord knows I need my sleep. But the Good Lord also invented coffee (and sugar! and milk!), and naps for babies, so I am not totally without resources. And I am worthy. I am a daughter of the Lord and I do not struggle in vain.

Mamas, you are not doing this journey alone either! Find the joy in every day, and as my husband told me one morning after a very crabby night: Today is a new day! Make the most of it, and be happy.

Morning y'all!
Do you love yourself? You're the first teacher of self-love. Because we can show our children how to be happy. We can teach them what joy is, even when the skies grow dark. We teach them that in Christ, everything is possible -- even if that everything is one, small task of love. To-do lists don't matter when we look at eternity.

As St. Catherine of Siena said: "Start being brave about everything. Drive out darkness and spread light. Don’t look at your weaknesses. Realize instead that in Christ crucified you can do everything."

GHB, I wish you many months of happiness as you continue to approach your one year birthday. I am so proud of you! I love your smile, your laugh, your silliness, and the way you love your mom and dad. You are so patient with us. You are so strong during PT sessions. You are so good natured and snuggly. You are interested in the world, and an interesting little human. 

Will does the best voices for Frog and Toad
At 9 months, she:
  • Sits independently
  • Transitions around her toys
  • Rolls
  • Eats solids (mum-mums and blended fruits with oatmeal are her favorites!)
  • Recognizes voices and faces
  • Says "Ahhhhhhhh" and "mommomommomom" (especially when she wants me!)
  • Expresses displeasure and happiness
  • Laughs
  • Pays attention and responds to stories and songs
  • Picks up objects using hands, fingers, toes and sometimes her mouth (very resouceful!)
I hear her talking outloud as I type this...
Grace Harriet, you're growing up so fast! I hear you waking up! Mama is coming. You are loved.


  1. beautiful, julie! your love for Grace is so wonderful to see.

  2. Love it :) GHB is so sassy and gorgeous and loved!