Tag Archives: relax

Babies cry, don’t take it personally

When my baby was born into this world, I was struck with the reality of it all. She is mine, my baby, nobody else’s. It felt like one of those reality shows when you get to play a part in someone else’s life for a while–but don’t get too comfortable, the camera crew is on its way with the annoyingly chatty host.

Our strange existence as modern women of the 21 century brought many of us to the realization that by the respectable age of 30, we rarely had a chance to handle a newborn, to change his diaper, to feed him or watch him nurse. That was me anyway, a total novice (not to say a nervous wreck). Before my baby was born I wouldn’t have wanted to hold a newborn. I was afraid to break them. I regarded every new, seemingly relaxed new mother with great admiration. “How does she do it?” I asked myself (and her, if I gathered enough nerve). They all looked like mother earth to me. Relaxed and natural.

Imagine my surprise when my turn came to play mommy. Continue reading


On blooming timing

I have a soft spot for late bloomers, all varieties. My grandpa took up painting just a couple of years ago and sends us watercolor treasures, scenes from Italy and France and his hometown. I linger over articles about authors late to the publishing world, taking small shards of hope from their late blooming success.

My kids didn’t get teeth until they were 9 months old and that was perfectly fine with me. Sam’s now nine years and he’s only lost a few teeth. He’s the rare 4th grader with the gappy front tooth smile, up to 5 years later than some of his friends. And Maddy still cherished her doll Emily with the fidelity of a mother, long after dolls had lost their cool for most of her friends. Everything in its time, I think to myself, privately happy to extend the moments of childhood and allow them their own timetables.

That’s not to say I don’t get caught up in the comparing game sometimes. [And yes, I agree that some comparing to the norm is essential to make sure your child is developing and growing (e.g., growth charts at the pediatrician).] It’s tough not to grade yourself as a parent based on the timelines of others. Get a group of parents together and inevitably there’s a little sly comparing. You see the girl down the street walking and look at your own same-aged crawler and wonder when. You hear that your nephew’s reading books at age four and wonder should I start flashcards? Someone in your playgroup pottytrained their 1-year-old and suddenly you feel like you can’t look at another diaper. For us, it was bike riding.

Are you ready for this?

Sam just mastered riding a bike last summer.

Truthfully, we tried. For several years, we took him out and tried. Because WE were ready, because we wanted to check the box next to that accomplishment as done. But he didn’t like it, dug in his heels and refused. Didn’t see the point. You know that saying about horses and water and drinking? Try young boys and bicycles and riding. So we finally took the hint and set it aside for a while.

Eventually, Sam wanted to learn it (I think it was right after he stayed home from the scout bike rodeo). It was time, his time. Finally one week last July, with the aid of a positive and patient dad and much negotiation, he agreed to work at it for ten tries. And then, mid-week, he started rolling his bike out to the front of the house on the sly, doggedly working solo on that tricky starting moment where you lift both feet to the pedals and push. The next day he was zipping around the neighborhood, all glee and I-did-it-ness. In a couple of days, not the weeks and months of earlier efforts.

Children are bloomers. That’s what they do! They bloom–sometimes early, sometimes late, sometimes right on the average. I’m slowly learning to turn the timing over to my kids, to watch them for clues that they’re ready to grow into a new season. Trying to be more of a gardener, less of a train conductor.

Annie Waddoups lives in the Boston area with her husband and three children. She is the founder of Letters to a Parent and can be reached and annie.waddoups@gmail.com.

Relax and enjoy

{This letter is really a talk given by my great-grandmother about motherhood}

When Dean asked me if I would give a short talk on harmony and beauty in the home, it really startled me. I remember I said, “Harmony! Dean, didn’t you know my husband? Because we had companionship, spirituality, love, beauty, excitement and loads of fun but I think harmony would have been the last adjective anyone would use to describe the Brockbank home.” So he thought I could perhaps give the young mothers some advice, and that I’ll try and do, because there isn’t any experience you will be likely to have that I haven’t had.

First, relax and enjoy your children. 99% of them turn out all right anyway. Just let your memory go back to all the obnoxious little boys and girls you used to know and think of them now. They’re not delinquents. They’re married now and going to work each morning, coming home at night to work in the yard, play with their children, go out with friends. They don’t get their names in the papers as the 1% who are delinquents do, but they are the salt of the earth and yours will be among them, so love them and stop worrying.

Especially ease up on the oldest one. My, we expect a lot of the first one. We set out to show the world what we can do, and it is a wonder they survive at all with our constant, erratic, unreasonable supervision. It is a good thing that children are resilient and so loyal. They forgive us and love us anyway.

The second thing is don’t hold grudges. Let what happened yesterday go. There’ll be another crisis tomorrow you can put your mind on, so let the old ones pass and don’t be afraid to say you are wrong. It’s no disgrace. It only shows that you are smarter today than you were yesterday, and besides, it disarms your opponent.

Three, try and see the child’s point of view. They have one and it may well be as good as your own.

Four, the really biggest problem, I think, to a mother, young or old, is trying to help her children over the trials and disappointments that come in everyone’s life. It is all right to say trials help us grow, but it is cold comfort to a child who is hurt either in body or spirit. The greatest help and comfort here is prayer. It is surprising how early and completely children will accept the fact that God loves them and can and will help them and how often he does. Once they have this assurance (and God is very cooperative) they will learn to accept what trials they must face with their shoulders square, knowing that things will be all right.

Five, they must be taught to be kind and to share, and there is nothing as good for this nor as easy as a big family. I hate to say that, with all the current talk about the population explosion, but it is true. They discipline each other and they help each other. A family is the best place in the world in which to learn to get along with other people.

Well, there are days you think you can’t live through, and then suddenly it is all over and you are babysitting your grandchildren….Of course, your children know you very well and may not regard you with the respectful awe they might if you were not their mother.

Elsie Booth Brockbank (1894-1978) was the mother of nine daughters and 50 grandchildren