Motherhood, version 2.0

Five days after giving birth, I dropped my husband off at the airport and waved goodbye with our two small children. Our baby had arrived right on his due date, which put his birth during the week of our move from Hawaii back to "the mainland." While exciting, this meant that I would be spending a week alone, living in a hotel with two small children and dealing with the gritty details of the move. It's pretty tricky to figure out how you're going to do things like mail heavy boxes or ship a car with two little fireballs in tote, not to mention surviving a five hour plane ride -- or worse, surviving airport security checks.

But it can be done, as I discovered. While exhausting, it's all survivable, and life continues slowly.

Being back in the continental US has been quite amazing and I can honestly say that I haven't had this much fun in four years. Fruit is so fresh and bread doesn't go moldy after a week. The grocery store aisles and parking lot spaces are enormous. There are three Targets within 10 minutes of my house. There is a Sonic. Oh, and have I mentioned that shipping prices for internet shopping isn't ridiculous?

Amazing.

The one thing that is not different is the unsolicited parenting advice that I seem to acquire wherever I go. Maybe it's because I look young, or maybe I'm just not as good at juggling two children as I think I am, but I seem to attract the most obnoxious comments from do-gooders.

With my first child, I was constantly asked by strangers whether I breastfed or bottlefed. Did I use cloth diapers? Did I know that I needed to make sure he always had a shirt on? Did I know that if he felt hot, it was a good idea to take his temperature?

With baby #2, the comments are a little different, but no less ridiculous.

Recently, I left my older child at home with my husband while I ran some errands. In the checkout lane, baby started to fuss (not cry - fuss). While I know there is nothing more annoying to most people than someone's baby making noise in public, I was a credit card swipe from being finished with my shopping and leaving the store.

And then a helpful sales associate walked up to me and pointed to the baby.

"Your baby is crying."

...

I swiped my card, bounced the baby, and said "yes, he is fussing."

"Your baby is crying," she repeated, as if I had not heard the first time.

"Yeah, I know."

Urgently, the saleswoman said again, "your baby is crying. He's hungry. You need to feed him."

I smiled politely at the woman, grabbed my bag, and said, "thank you for that information," and walked out.

By the time I had walked the four feet to the door, my little bundle of wonderfulness had fallen asleep.

Hungry indeed.

Perhaps he simply takes after his grandfather and just doesn't like shopping.

Comments

Aufbrezeln Eschaton 13 years, 3 months ago

Good lord! Five days after giving birth I was still a worthless puddle of lactation and witch hazel Tucks. There's something to be said to popping 'em out young, I guess ;)

It must be your young good looks. I never get that kind of guff from strangers. They're usually too busy trying to find a polite way to deal with the oldest pulling up her dress to show them her big-girl panties. I keep telling her that you don't do that when nobody's paid a cover. Okay, come to think of it, I do get some strange looks. Maybe they're just intimidated by the blue hair fabulousness. Or afraid I'll knife them. I sometimes give off that vibe . . .

Congrats again. I tell people about you, and your marriage and baby thing along with your age, and when they look askance I explain, "Well, yeah, it would be white trash, but you have to consider that this chick had her bachelor's in a double major before she could buy beer." Then the looks change into that "shit, I couldn't pull that off" sort of face. I may not be blood, but you still make me proud :)

DOTDOT 13 years, 3 months ago

Parenting triggers glandular secretions of the stupid hormone. The best we can do is smile and try to pay attention to the two classes of people with superior intellect when it comes to child issues: 1) those who haven't had children and remain unafflicted by the stupid hormone, and 2) those who had children so long ago that the stupid hormone has been released from their system.

Just for fun, keep a little black book with the names of those in category 1 so you can return the favor when they start making babies and you have moved into category 2.

{^_^}

Bethany Jones 13 years, 3 months ago

Oh, I just love you both.

Misty - I am not going to lie. I almost cried at the airport several times, and were it not for a nice old lady telling Noah "you WILL obey your mother" as she helped him get his shoes back on, I probably wouldn't have survived the flight.

Dotdot - that sounds like a great idea. The first thing I'm going to do when my friends start having babies is buy them all really, really loud toys that play obnoxious songs...

Terry Bush 13 years, 3 months ago

In my humble opinion, as the parent of an only child, NO ONE who does not have children should get to publicly express their opinions on how to raise them. But they do. All the time. They are pretty easy to ignore. But the other type of person that used to annoy me was ubber parents who were always giving off the vibe (or saying directly) "DO IT MY WAY OR YOU ARE A BAD PARENT." These types seem harder to ignore. For anyone who is new to the job, they can be very intimidating and even influential. It's not until you step back and realize they are just over-compensating for something that you feel better.

SO what I did was to look for some kids I really liked being around...and then try to do what those parents were doing. It doesn't always work; some children are just not "open" to the same types of rearing techniques. But for the most part, it's always a good idea to decide what you want and work towards those few goals, all the while ignoring the peanut gallery. Pick a few worthy outcomes, and the rest is just gravy. For me, it was (1) could my child survive without me around; (2) Manners (a polite person lives a longer happier life) and (3) honesty (which as luck would have it, doesn't always jive with manners! LOL).

Don't worry. All parents make mistakes. You won't make that many, compared to many. And even if you do, you come from resiliant stock! LOL.

Megan Green Stuke 13 years, 3 months ago

Or, you can just start hitting people in the face. I do, these days, when strangers reach out and touch my fantastically large pregnant belly.

Aufbrezeln Eschaton 13 years, 3 months ago

Also: even my freaking 4-year-old can tell the difference between crying and fussing, or as she calls it, "talking". Anyone pulls that, "your baby is crying" crap again, just reply with, "Well, then get your frighteningly ugly face away from him! No wonder he's crying--Jesus, lady, wear some lipstick or something!"

Bethany Jones 13 years, 3 months ago

"Or, you can just start hitting people in the face. I do, these days, when strangers reach out and touch my fantastically large pregnant belly."

Just wait til after the baby is born and people start petting his/her head.

alm77 13 years, 3 months ago

"what I did was to look for some kids I really liked being around...and then try to do what those parents were doing. " best advice EVER. I went to my husband's best friend's parents whose children were grown! I knew their boys had come out alright, so I would constantly go and ask them for advice. Later, there was another couple I went to. They recommended the Kevin Leman books I'd already been reading. Again, their kids were older, so I knew their tips didn't just work in the immediate, but in the long term as well. Excellent point, LL.

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