Wednesday, May 13, 2015

What Babies Need

When I was pregnant, I posted on Facebook asking all of my mommy friends what they suggested I put on my baby registry. The list was overwhelming. There were so many suggestions for where she should sleep, what kind of clothing she might need, what baby toys would be best for her development, what she might want to snuggle. After the post had been up for two hours or so, I went to check the comments and immediately felt like I needed to go sit in a dark room and take deep breaths.

Then, a good friend of mine, an amazing mom with three kids and the most laid back attitude I've come across, gave me a piece of advice that still sticks with me ten months into first-time motherhood: "The baby only needs what you tell the baby to need."

Bam! The registry was no longer a dejected puppy staring at me with sad eyes, begging me to take it home and think about it every living moment. It suddenly became very clear - she's a baby!  A tiny, sweet baby who will need me to change her and love her and feed her and rock her and cuddle her and entertain her and challenge her. As far as I could see, I could do most of that with hugs.

I know, I know. What a mush, what a delusional hippie I am. But really, what do babies need? Let's think about this logically:
  • Diapers
  • Diaper Cream
  • Soap
  • Clothes
  • Food (Formula or Breast Milk to start)
  • Lotion
  • Blankets, Sheets
  • Place to sleep (crib, co sleeper, your bed, bassinet, etc...)
  • Books
  • Medical Supplies (Tylenol, nail clippers, saline drops and bulb, thermometer)
  • Something to cuddle besides Mama and Daddy
  • LOVE
As they get older, this list gets longer. A playpen was helpful, a swing. But really, if you have limited space, you can make things work. At ten months, my baby is crawling and getting into everything, but a good, old fashioned pillow fort still works to keep her sort of contained and safe. People will buy your kid so many toys, clothes and books you won't know what to do with them. You can let go of the list that scares you even though you're the one who made it. 

Seriously, step away from the list.

Now, make a new one. Think of what you really need. Stick some stuff you want in there because you're pregnant, your hips hurt and you deserve random cuteness. And go put your feet up. nap contentedly. Spend your time on stuff that makes you happy and NOT STRESSED AT ALL. All that's over soon, Mama!  ;-)

Thursday, May 7, 2015

My First Mother's Day

Today I was telling my husband what I want to do on Mother's Day.

It is, after all, my first one.  It's like a rite of passage, being loved on that special Sunday when there are flowers and jewelry blanketing the public like sky. I suppose that in that moment, I thought I deserved to relax, to be paid attention to.  But the truth is, that's not what it's all about. I don't want to lay on the couch and watch Scandal. I don't want to get a massage. I don't even really want to sleep in and miss the look on my baby's face when she wakes up happy, standing up in her crib like a big girl, bouncing up and down to get to me.  I suppose I am a mother because all I really want is to be with her.

Don't get me wrong - it's been awhile since I've slept late.(Understatement of the year. Mamas, am I right??)  And at the very least, I will take my husband up on his offer of hanging with the baby while I go for a run all by my lonesome with earphones and no specific mileage in mind - and then take a long, hot shower after.  I am human, you know. But mostly, I just want to strap the baby into her stroller or car seat and show her stuff.

Flowers, aquariums, zoos, parks, picnics, trees, all manner of Spring and play. Her face as she discovers a new texture, the air on her face - this is what I want to spend my time looking at.  Olivia Pope, I love you, but you're just not as amazing as that ten month old little girl.

So on Sunday, I'll be right here with my baby. I don't need jewelry or sleep or chocolate. I just need baby giggles and snuggles, gummy smiles, shaky steps and a crawling munchkin zooming across the room to me. My first Mother's Day - and all I want to do is be a Mom.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

On Improving Myself

We all need to improve, right?

Someone said to me recently, "I'm done with all this self-help bullshit. It makes it all too complicated. If you want to improve, just improve." I have to say, I agree with such sentiment. The amount of self help books I've read, videos I've watched, "gurus" I've listened to can seriously boggle the mind. They all have a program with steps that you can take.

Be more effective!

Kick your bad habits!

Change your state!

And listen, I get it. There are habits I want to kick. Ways that I want to be a better person and a better mom. But the thing is, if I'm truly being honest with myself, I already know what I have to change. So, as mentioned above, can't I just ... improve?

Why should I have to listen to some dude I don't know in order to gather my own strength?  Help is always good, but I can't help but feel like using a self improvement expert and leaning on this person goes against the whole point. How can you learn to improve yourself if you can't be strong enough to do it on your own?

Let's take a look at some really famous self help books:


We all want to have spiritual growth, be effective, stop worrying. But aren't we all capable of identifying our own worry? I agree that certain approaches can be helpful, but I think there's an overload of these sorts of texts. They stare at us from the bestseller list, daring us to fix our lives on our own.  In the end, though, people figured out life long before all of this. So tell me, what is it that you want to fix? Do you think you can do it on your own?