That’s right. I’ve been a mom of 3 now for ALMOST 7 whole years. What?!? Has it really been that long? Hell yeah it has. It’s been a f–king trip, I’ll tell you that. Raising kids is not easy. But it IS really fun. At times. And then, there’s those 6:21 AM mornings when you want to call it a day before you even get out of bed.
My “baby cousins” just had babies of their own. Drawing on my vast years of experience I wanted to send them something useful as a baby gift. And the most useful thing I could think of (besides a pacifier and snot sucker) was advice. Like real advice. Not like, “Make sure you play classical music in the background when breastfeeding, so you can send your kid to Montessori and Harvard.” But more like the stuff that you really want to know.
So here are my wise, words of wisdom.
Yes, you really have a baby.
I remember the day we brought my twins home from NYU. We plopped their car seat carriers down in front of our bar, sat on our couch and just stared at them as they slept. WTF! Who put these babies in my living room? When are their parents picking them up? It was that very moment I realized these two things sitting in front of us were here FOREVER.
0-1 is the hardest stage, hands down.
Sure, stuff changes as they grow and you have other issues. But if you can stay strong and get through the sleep deprivation, weird body changes, no sex and keep your baby generally alive, you’re a rock star.
For the baby stage I bequeath to you the following essentials: a good pediatrician, perspective, a chill pill, a pacifier and sleep.
Choose a pediatrician’s office that has lots of doctors and is open all the time.
Sh-t happens. And it freaks you out. Why wouldn’t it? You’re totally in charge of keeping this little bugger alive. If something looks weird it’s probably nothing. But go get it checked out anyway. You’ll be worried until a doctor tells you it’s basically nothing, but thanks for your co pay.
Things can get nuts. You’ll have ridiculous fights with your hubs. When you’re in the heat of the moment, things seem so much worse than they really are. Remember to take two steps back and realize it’s only temporary. And that you don’t need to get a divorce because the baby is falling asleep on the bottle. It’s not his fault. And at the end of the day, it really doesn’t matter if you miss 1 or 2 feedings. They’ll live. Trust me.
A Chill Pill
When they are babies, especially when they are your first, everything is such a big deal. Dressing them. Bathing them. Changing them. Feeding them. Taking them out in public. Do you have them in the carrier correctly? Are they latching on? Why is that poop that color? Why won’t they stop crying? That feels weird. And this looks kind of bumpy. And – ahhhhhhh! Breathe in, breathe out.
Just remember that babies are way, way WAY more resilient than we think. You will not break them. They can sleep in poopy diapers and pee through clothes. If they miss a feeding they’ll survive. If they get off schedule, they’ll get back on. If you forget to burp them, they’ll get it out somehow. There’s a gazillion things to worry about, but just try and relax and soak all the parenting in.
The pacifier is your best friend. Don’t let anyone tell you different. Chances are, they’re getting braces anyway, so if it were me, I would take the sanity. Use it. Now.
This one is a biggie. And everyone tells you to get all your sleeping in before baby comes, but it’s really true. You just can’t get enough sleep. I remember people used to tell me, “Well you need to nap, when they nap.” Really? In theory that’s a great idea, but when are you going to take a shower? Check your email? Wash all the bottles? Do the laundry? Growing kids is a full-time job. The sleep deprivation will kick in probably 2 weeks after coming home. And will last, eh…a year or two. Although, I have heard tales of other people’s babies sleeping through the night at 3 months old. So you could hit the jackpot.
Once you’ve made it through year 1, it is essential for you to celebrate. Yourselves. I remember going into the pediatrician when my twins were 4-months old and telling her, “Yeah, the babies seem to be getting a little better.” And she replied with, “Well, the babies aren’t getting better, you’re getting better…as parents.” Although abrupt, she had a good point. The 1 year-old-birthday party is really for you. And Mr. you. So get a sitter and book the bar now! You deserve it.
Baby stage is over. And toddler stage begins. Toddlers are a whole new ballgame. And you need to bring it. 2-4 years is the “Age of Irrationality”.
For this next stage I give you the gifts of: Time, A Tantrum-Calmer-Downer Thingy, The Art of Negotiation, Ear Muffs, Translator and Patience.
After you have kids you realize that time is a massive luxury that you most definitely took for granted when you didn’t have kids. Seriously, remember, before children, you’d be sitting on your couch on a late Sunday morning, reading The Times and drinking coffee and thinking…why don’t I have any time to do anything?!? You need to go to the gym. And the mall. And the grocery store. And meet your friend for a drink. How are you gonna fit it all in? Poor you.
Every single toddler tantrums. And there is nothing you can really do. My son used to have these crazy crying fits of rage. Something would set him off and then there was no going back. He would scream and throw himself to the ground and choke. It totally sucked. But just remember, it happens to everyone. All the time. You are not alone! I eventually taught my kids “The calming down song”, which was essentially counting to 5 and then taking 3 deep, yoga-style breaths. It was actually one of my better ideas. My almost-7-year-olds still use it.
The Art of Negotiation
Try to negotiate with a toddler if you want to fail miserably. There is no way out – you simply can’t win. They are completely irrational, so there is no need to try and rationalize with them and present an argument trying to make them understand. Save your breath. And just do what you want to do. You’re the grown up here. You call the shots. I remind myself of that, out loud, every single day.
“Old School” is one of my favorite movies. But, especially the scene when Vince Vaughn shouts “earmuffs” to his kid, so he can swear. It’s hilarious. That would be a great thing to teach your kids with one problem. If you have a potty-mouth, like I do, then you never really know when a f-ck or sh-t is going to slip out. And you’d rather it not be in front of the wee ones. Trust me. When you hear a 3-year-old drop something and look at it in disgust and softly say, “F——-ck!” it will not amuse you. Well, maybe a teeny bit. But it’s no bueno.
When toddlers are learning to talk, they say some f-cked up sh-t that you can’t understand. When my 3-year-old does this, I try to play it off like I know exactly what she said and will repeat what I think it was. But she knows I don’t know. And she’ll say it again. And I’ll say it again. And she screams, “NOOOOOO!” and says it again. And just keeps getting angrier and angrier every time I get it wrong. May the force be with you on this one.
Think Axl Rose and Slash. “Just a little patience…yeaaaaaaaaah!” Hopefully that tune will make you smile. Because toddlers are crazy. And fun. But really rather frustrating. Like when they don’t want to get dressed. Or they go on a hunger strike. Or will only eat Doritos. Or hate the bath. But everything seems to work itself out. Eventually. You need to just be really patient.
I could go on and on. But I won’t. Because I know you have no time. So go. Go forth. And raise civilized children.
Latest posts by Ann Lieberman (see all)
- See What This Mom Realized As She Took Her Kids Back To School - November 10, 2015
- Advice from a 7 year-old Mom - July 14, 2015