In honor of said homage to moms this weekend, I thought it might be fun to reflect on the Mom I was 8 years ago and the Mom I am today. I’m pretty sure I laughed out loud. Here’s hoping you do, too.
TOP TEN: MOTHERHOOD, THEN AND NOW
1. Out and about. THEN: I used to plan the night before when I’d nurse Will, how long I’d be gone, how many diapers and outfits I should take…one must be prepared. NOW: We decide 5 minutes before and hit the road without a thought to diapers, wipes, food or outfits. That can all be bought at Wal-Mart, right?
2. Diaper bag. THEN: With Will I had this HUGE backpack. Seriously, you could pack an overnight bag in there and we had ONE child. A fellow mom of 4 once commented, “Wow, Kathryn, are you going somewhere with that thing?” NOW: We’re lucky to have wipes and diapers stashed in the van. I do, however, have a healthy supply of Tylenol, Starbucks napkins and crushed goldfish smeared all over the floor.
3. Germs. THEN/NOW: I can honestly say this is one that hasn’t changed much. We venture out well before the 6-week mark, but we’re smart about covering up the baby and leaving them in the carseat so people can’t put their germy hands on my newborn. I’m pretty sure I offended one of my parent’s friends when she asked to hold Clare and I insisted she wash her hands. Bah. My baby, my rules.
4. Doctor visits. THEN: I’m fairly certain I called Dr. Cumming every week during his morning call hours. I freaked out about everything. Will’s poop was green, did he need antibiotics? He was sniffling, was it a cold? He wouldn’t eat green beans, was he allergic? My Lord, the nurses must tag every new mom file and sigh when we call. NOW: I rely on life experience, a phone call to a fellow mom to compare symptoms or a quick flip through my American Academy of Pediatrics Bible (!) before I ever call the nurse. I’ll qualify this by saying, the gut instinct is still intact. Sometimes you just know something is wrong and you’re usually right. That hasn’t changed one bit. Oh, that and I’m always the first one at the doctor’s office for a well check. Any visit after 10 and you’ll be waiting at least half an hour.
5. Other moms. THEN: I scoffed at moms who couldn’t control their toddlers in a store and swore mine would never throw a fit like that. I judged a mom who exhaled heavily and thought to myself, ‘sheez, she has no patience.’ I glared (yes, I said that outloud) at moms who didn’t take their fussy baby/toddler/child out of Mass. NOW: I know better. I am that mom I once berated. Can I see a show of hands for all of us who have been the other mom? Yep, just what I thought, full house.
6. Nursing. THEN: My face turned beet red if I ever had to nurse in public. One Sunday morning Mass I even nursed Will in the bathroom because I was too afraid to nurse him in the pew. When the lady in the stall next to us flushed, I thought Will was going to come unglued. I’m pretty sure I started crying. I would go to the car, another room, anywhere where there weren’t people around. NOW: It’s not like I’m giving everyone a show, but a bathroom is no place to feed a baby. I’ve heard every comment you could imagine and I usually just smile and say how much I love nursing. I figure I’ve had about 10,000 (give or take) nursing sessions between the four bambinos. One does learn a few things about being discreet 🙂
7. Naptime routine. THEN: We had like a 20-minute ritual we went through with Will, nurse, watch part of a Veggie Tales movie, rock and then nap. Seriously? I cannot believe we went through all that. NOW: I had a V8. Now it’s a kiss, a hug, turn on the white noise and lights out. Sweet dreams. It doesn’t matter the ritual as long as it’s the same everytime.
8. Discipline. THEN: We thought our little Will was perfect and wondered what all the fuss was about parenthood being hard (the physical part and sleep deprivation we totally got, but the discipline thing was a little tougher). It wasn’t until he turned 3. It is the new 2. We started out spanking and I cried everytime we did it. Newsflash, it didn’t work. NOW: Timeouts and a stern “no” work quite nicely. Kids know when you’re serious. We save the spankings for serious offenses.
9. Gifts. THEN: We lovingly accepted every gift and kept them all. It was a gift and you shouldn’t give those away. NOW: We have 4 kids people. And, even if we didn’t, this rule would still apply. My kids have roomfuls of toys, even if we gave half away, they would never notice. Our policy for birthdays and Christmas is this: for every one toy that comes in, two have to go out. And we enforce it. We are equally opportunity giver awayers. The reality is we want our kids to appreciate the gesture, play with the toy and then pass it along to another child who will love and play with it just as much.
10. Sensitivity. THEN: We got really annoyed by veteran parents who smiled politely when we did said crazy things. I thought they were being insensitive. NOW: I just know that they are reminded of who they once were and how far they have come.
I think I could’ve listed another 10! Being a mom to 1 and now to 4 has most definitely changed my perspective on the world. I cry at TV shows that abuse children, I can’t read about children that are missing or hurt. It freaks me out. I obsess about some things and don’t give others a second thought. But, I know this. I prayed for patience as a young mom and God gave me 4 (+ 1) blessings. He’s taught me to pray – even for the small stuff – and learn to appreciate that we all mother our children differently. If it works for you, then it’s right. Period.
Raise a glass of milk to the amazing mother figures in your life this weekend. I’ve got a full one ready for my own mom. Cheers!