Advice

The brunch we missed this weekend was for a surprise baby shower for my friend Erin. We were supposed to write down pieces of advice for her. I neglected to do so, and have since compiled this list of things to tell her. Emailed her (and the other friends at the brunch) this list tonight:

    1. If you can find it in the book somewhere, it’s normal. Remember, your baby hasn’t read the book and doesn’t operate on the same schedule as the Mythical Average Baby.
    1. Listen to your baby, and let him/her tell you what they need. Don’t listen to the neurotic mothers around you that tell you what their baby did at this age, what their baby ate, what worked with their baby. Tips and tricks are helpful as springboards, but every baby is different. Listen to YOUR baby, because you will have a level of communication with him/her that even Pete’s not going to understand.
    1. You will soon know why all the world smiles at pregnant women. And it’s not because you’re about to have this warm little creature to hold, or because you’re about to have sleepless nights and they’re glad it’s you and not them… It’s because anyone who has been a parent knows the unfathomable beauty of parenthood. It cannot be documented, described, or expressed. It can only be experienced. That phrase, “Having a baby changes everything” — so true, but not only in the ways that are obvious. There’s so much more depth to it than that… When I was pregnant with Helen, my boss at the time would smile wistfully at me and I finally asked her why… She said it was because she felt a certain amount of envy — not because of the baby… No, definitely not that. But because she knew that I would soon (not instantly, but soon) truly understand the feeling of overwhelming, unconditional love. Love for a spouse is a different species entirely. There is NOTHING to compare with the love for a child. Don’t expect it in the L&D suite, though. It takes time, but it will suckerpunch you at unexpected moments, and I treasure (treasure!!!) those moments. The first one I had was when Helen was about a week old; I was folding her freshly washed tiny little socks, and I was overwhelmed by it. I’ll remember that one forever.
    1. Don’t forget yourself in all of this. If you have something that you truly love to do — running, for example — make sure that you set aside some time to do it –alone– frequently. I am a mommy, yes, and that’s my primary job. But I am a quilter, a scrapbooker, a mathematician, a writer. An occasional cook. I did not give up Elaine to become Mommy. And I don’t want to have to go hunting for Elaine again when the supervise-every-second-of-their-waking-hours part of my life is finished. So Jerry is *wonderful* about making sure I have a few minutes to myself quite often.
    1. Laugh. Throw your head back and laugh your guts out. Children are damn funny, and they help you rediscover the world.
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