Wednesday, February 22, 2012

What Old Moms Know--and Don't Tell

At a recent baby shower, the guests—young moms and the young moms' mothers--were asked to write a few sentences of advice for the mama-to-be. A pretty, pastel memory book was produced and slowly passed from hand to hand.

The young moms seemed to eager to share what they'd learned on parenting's front lines. They specified brands of baby food and listed infant-friendly restaurants. They wrote with authority about food mills, BPA-free bottles, and baby-safe detergents.

The women my age jotted down a sentence or two, no more. When my turn came, I peeked at what my friend Hannah--another woman old enough to be a grandmother--had written: Let the housework wait while you rock your baby.

Hannah could have filled pages with what she's learned over three decades of child-rearing, but she didn't because no new mama wants to hear that BPA-free bottles won't protect kids from bullying, drugs, or heartbreak.

When my children were little, I believed a car seat rated tops by Consumer Reports would keep them safe on the road-- and protect them from life's hard knocks. If only.

I didn't think I had all the answers but was pretty sure I had eighty percent of them. Now I know that number was closer to fifteen—or ten. At the time, could anyone have told me differently? No.

So what did I write in that pretty pastel book? I chose a tip I'd received from my mother many, many years ago: Nap when your baby is napping.

It's good advice. I wish I’d followed it.


Sheila Seabrook said...

Hindsight is such a wonderful thing, isn't it, Pat? If we would only listen to the advise of the elderly (not that I'm calling you elderly because, hey, I'm you're age!), we'd all be happier, healthier, and way smarter. :)

My advise would be: Don't sweat the small stuff, enjoy every moment because they grow up far too fast.

Kecia Adams said...

One of my favorite pieces of advice that I received was: they need you as much if not more as teenagers than when they're small.
If I were to give advice from my own experience I might say: Enjoy those midnight to two am feedings when all is quiet and it's just you and this little person together.
Oh, and the sleep deprivation really doesn't last that long. :)

Lark Howard said...

You gave her good advice, Pat!

Coleen Patrick said...

Great advice! I remember being told that and wishing my kids slept more so I could actually follow it! :)

Pat O'Dea Rosen said...

I can't believe you brought up the e-word, Sheila. I am going to tease you about this for as long as we live. (A l-o-o-o-ng time.)

They do grow up too fast. Sigh.

Pat O'Dea Rosen said...

Excellent advice about teenagers needing their parents as much or more than little ones do, Kecia. Gah, my kids' teenage years were tough, but I wouldn't tell a new mom that. Instead, I might say what a friend with then-teenagers told me when my arm cramped after holding an eight-month old during a party: treasure this time before they're mobile and you know where they are every instant. His vision of kids out in cars past curfew sure trumped those twinges in my arm.

Pat O'Dea Rosen said...

That was good advice, wasn't it, Lark. My mother's so much smarter than I am.

Pat O'Dea Rosen said...

Oh, Coleen, one of mine wouldn't nap more than an hour a day--and she stopped napping entirely at about six months. Six months!

She's a pretty accomplished person nowadays. Those who don't need sleep run rings around those of us who do.

I predict great things for your kids.

Karen McFarland said...

Oh Pat, you brought tears to my eyes. "Forget the housework and rock the baby". Oh how I miss those moments. And yes, my mother had told me the same thing yours did, sleep when the baby sleeps. But there is nothing in this world like holding a newborn. Nothing. :)

Pat O'Dea Rosen said...

No, Karen, no. I am not ready to be a grandma and rock one of my daughter's babies and breathe in that sweet infant smell. Do you think my grandbaby will be wiry and blonde like my children? Wait! What am I saying? I'm not ready, Karen.

You're right; there's nothing in the world as sweet as holding a newborn.

Jennette Marie Powell said...

I'm another who'd have loved to follow your advice - only my daughter never napped until she was several months old! Luckily, she slept through the night pretty soon. That bit about teenagers is very true too. My 16yo still likes to hang out with me (sometimes!) and I treasure every moment because I expect it to end any time. :)