I’m a 30-something anthropologist turned stay-at-home mom who’s been humbled by how ill-prepared I was for becoming a mother. From college-prep classes to grad school, I’ve trained to be a professional my whole life. Diapers and swaddling methods were not on the course list. I hadn’t even touched a baby (for the most part) since my neighbor was crazy enough to leave her infant child with a 12-year old me.
A few months into my pregnancy, a friend who’d recently had a baby said her life was really different now. I totally knew what she meant. After all, hubby and I hadn’t been to happy hour in weeks. Maybe a month. What’s the point when you can’t drink anyway? She just smiled and said that wasn’t what she meant, but I’d understand soon.
Then the baby Hubs and I were sure was going to be late showed up three weeks early. We’d just moved into a new house and told ourselves we’d deal with “baby stuff” once the remodeling and unpacking were done. We didn’t own a diaper–much less a car seat or a crib–when little Will squinted up at us from his plastic hospital bassinet like he expected us to know what we were doing.
“They” say you’ll “just know.”
Maybe that’s true if I were a mama mouse. Or a mother chimp. Or I’d, you know, been around babies ever in the last twenty years. Or if I had a million cousins. Or lived anywhere close to family. Or had a degree in early childhood education.
To everyone who suggested I’d “just know” how to swaddle or bath or feed a precious little creature by virtue being born female: you were wrong.
Fortunately, if God had intended to me to know everything about childcare, he wouldn’t have invented mommy blogs.
So began my search for updated, kid-tested and mother-approved, fact-based suggestions about what worked for other people. What I largely found was lore and mysticism. Breast is best. Formula’s fine. Bedsharing’s for bozos. Cribs are cruel. Attachment this. Helicopter that. And then there are the supposed “experts” who have a rigid technique to sell.
I needed a friend. Someone going through the same things I was. Maybe a month or two ahead of me. Someone to share successes. Someone to warn about failures. Someone who would tell me what they did and why. Someone to ask, “Has this happened to you yet?”
Because I felt like I was blowing in the wind.
Babies, especially in this first year, seem to change overnight and there was no end to the questions I had regarding feeding, sleeping, not sleeping, still not sleeping, carriers, strollers, travel, relationships, life change, milestones etc. The social scientist in me craved both research and personal feedback, but that is hard to find.
Having a baby is both banal and profound. It’s happened billions of times. Child development hasn’t changed in thousands of years and for the most part, kids grow up despite their parents anyway. Yet, my baby is the orbit of our family, and darn it, I want to know what’s best. I want to know that the way I feel and what he’s doing are normal. I want to hear the upside and the downside and be reminded of those millions of moms living lives parallel to my own.
So I’m taking matters into my own hands.
I may not be an expert or have a particular parenting philosophy. But I am in the trenches. I do care about finding real information, and I’m willing to share how things have gone for me, for better and worse. I could be right. I might be wrong. Maybe it’ll help. Maybe it won’t. For what it’s worth: here’s what I did.
I hope this blog will be a place to share and sympathize with my fellow sunshine mommies (or parents–what’s up, Dads?)…whether or not you live somewhere warm!