Saturday, April 16, 2011

Smart Friends

If any of you ladies out there are thinking about having kids I have one piece of advice for you: You know those friends you have that are way smarter than you?  Let them have kids first.  They will tell you everything you need to know.  At first you won’t be able to hear them.  When my smart mom friends told me you rapidly forget the unpleasant parts of being pregnant I thought they were insane.  And then I got pregnant ON PURPOSE when T was less than 11 months old.  Because I forgot the unpleasant parts.  When my smart mom friends told me Cry It Out sucked balls in the moment, but it would change our lives for the better in the long run I thought they were insane.  And then T started taking 2 naps a day and sleeping 11-12 hours a night.  I started to understand I needed to do a better job of listening to my smart friends, even if I didn’t believe their wiseness in the moment I needed to store it away until I could digest it. 

Last spring when a dear friend and way-smarter than me mom was pregnant with her second I asked her if she was excited about the new baby.  She was working, taking care of her toddler, while pregnant and navigating life in Brooklyn.  Friends, I lived in NYC for nearly a decade.  It is harder to be there than anywhere else I have lived, in my opinion it is also totally worth it because it is more fun to live there than anywhere else I have lived.  But I cannot imagine dealing with the nausea and fatigue of pregnancy while also dealing with the subway, the endless walking, the endless staircases, the crazy people, and wrangling a toddler.  Every pregnant woman in NYC deserves a hug and a round of applause.  So I na├»vely asked her if she was excited about the new baby and she said in a very weary voice that she simply didn’t have time to think about being excited.  She patiently explained that you had to concentrate on the kid that was outside the womb the second time around, the one on the inside didn’t get a lot of thought.  I remember thinking that was nuts, but by then she had already told me a bunch of stuff which I didn’t have the good sense to believe, yet that turned out to be 100% true, so I stored it away for future use.

The future is now.  She was totally right.  At this point in my pregnancy with T I spent most of my time worrying about what life would be like when he arrived.  I was terrified, I wasn’t sure the whole endeavor was a good idea, and it was all I could think about.  Well, besides thinking about how much I hated being pregnant.  I did think about that a lot as well.  And to be honest, I’m thinking that this time around.  But the good part is I know it is worth it.  Yup, I despise sharing my body with another being for 9 months.  Yup, I do not feel bonded to the baby while it is inside me at all.  But, this time I know I will bond with the baby after he is born.  I also know I’ll feel like myself again after I get to stop sharing my body.  I know that hating pregnancy does not mean that I’ll automatically be a shitty mom.  And because of my smart friend I know that it isn’t a big deal that I don’t have time to think about life after the new boy arrives.

So already there is a big difference in the way I feel about my boys.  The birth order thing is asserting itself before the second kid takes his first breath.  I will never be able to give my new son the intense focus I have had with T.  Hell, after New Guy comes T will never get that intense focus again, and that is probably a good thing.  But New Guy gets a mom who is much more relaxed and sure of herself in the mothering department.  I’ll parent him with a confidence I never had when T was a newborn.  And more importantly I’m starting to realize that even though it is impossible to experience them and therefore treat them exactly the same way that doesn’t matter.  It doesn’t mean I will favor one over the other.  And it sure as hell doesn’t have anything to do with how much I love them.   

My little family went and visited my smart friend’s little family when her new baby was about a week old.  One night she very casually cooked us dinner.  I thought back to when T was a week old and the idea of me cooking anything for anyone was truly preposterous.  Now, this friend is a kick ass human with an enviable amount of Midwestern stoicism and grit, I want to be like her when I grow up.  Because currently I am a big fat baby.  So I’m not thinking I’ll be cooking for a group days after New Guy shows up.  But I actually do believe it will be easier this time.  I believe I’ll love him hard, I want him with all my heart, and I can’t wait to introduce him to T.

So yes, smarter friends.  Find them.  Keep them.  And for the love of God, listen to them.

So clearly Z's sister was in town a few weeks ago.  Because we lack the ability to take such beautiful photos. This is one of my all times favorites.  
Photo by Ellie Leonardsmith

My dad got this awesome Hess truck as swag at some work event and gave it to Z for Christmas a number of years ago.  Which sort of cracks me up.  Dad retired from ExxonMobil a couple of weeks ago.  He started with Mobil more than 40 years ago and there was a lot of brand loyalty in our house growing up.  When I was about 13 I found a lovely pair of shell shaped earing I wanted very badly.  He wouldn't let me get them.  Seriously.  I could have all the Pegasus I wanted, though.    

This is how we do "Time Out" in our house.  He doesn't seem too upset, but he really hates being in there.  He usually cries as he absentmindedly plays with all the toys.  It really cracks me up.  


  1. He cries as he plays with the toys. That's cute. it's like he wants to make it a point that he's unhappy, but can't help but be distracted by all the stuff around him.

    I am glad I'm reading this before becoming a mom myself, if that happens one day. I've started to see motherhood in a different light. Rather than glorify it on some pedestal, I see humans doing exactly what our bodies were made to do and making it work - balancing fear with the desire to have a growing family, making it work, and at the same time saving their own sanity. Had dinner with a gf last night who halfway through her first trimester on her second. SHe is terrified. She can't wait to go back to work. Her husband is doing service somewhere in the country and her grandmother is dying. She's trying to keep it together for herself, but also the little one that is already outside of her womb. I asked her about her current pregnancy and if she was excited, she admitted she was more worried than anything.

    We are all human. We have the things that scare us and make us doubt ourselves - being a mom doesn't change that, but I do believe that when it comes down to choosing to fight or flight as a mom a lot of women step up and fight.

    Thanks for writing. As always.

  2. Oh, I love the fight or flight thing. Personally I'd find it much easier to fight for T than for myself. Now the trick is learning to ALSO fight for myself. Very important in order to be a good example.

    And I'm sending good thoughts to your friend. To you, too. I really hope you start feeling better.

  3. I had that Hess truck!! Mine didn't have functioning headlights, but you know, I mean I had a version of that truck from twenty years ago. It was pretty neat. I recall playing with that and the USS Enterprise at the same time.