My eldest is 6 ½, so I’ve been doing this “parenting” thing for a while now. Now, I’m not saying I’m the Larry King of being a mom or anything (although I, too, bear an uncanny resemblance to a garden gnome when I’m rocking suspenders), but I do have some years of experience under my belt. Therefore, I feel pretty qualified to give parenting advice, but the problem is that not enough people ask me for it. In my head it happens all of the time, and the conversations usually start something like this: “Mary, you clearly have it together. You hardly ever leave the house with both your shirt and underwear on backwards, and when you do you definitely notice after less than eight hours of walking around like that. Your children have the self-control and table manners of some of the very politest species of rabid raccoons, and you are usually not hung over at PTO meetings. Also, you have only left your bra at the pediatrician’s office ONCE, and for a really good reason I’m sure. How do you do it, and would you be willing to take a break from your grueling schedule of being a perfect mom and housewife to give the rest of us some advice?”
And then I respond: “Well, thank you imaginary-friend-in-need. It’s true that I pretty much kick bottom and take names at the parenting game, and I’m kind of A Big Deal at my end of the cul-de-sac. But before I drop wisdom-bombs on you, I need to clarify something: I have actually NEVER left my bra at the pediatrician’s office. That was my friend Ali, and I have to admit that I was so jealous when she told me that story. I would give my right eye to have left my bra at the pediatrician’s office (nursing moms will understand how this could go down, not in a bow-chicka-bow-wow way) and then had to have them call me to tell me about it before I noticed. That’s just pure blogging gold, right there, but I have to give credit where credit is due. Cups off to you, Ali.”
Anyhoo, on to a few of the questions that, had any of my friends had the good sense just to ask me them, would totally be in my inbox:
Mary, last Halloween I waited to shop for my costume until the last minute. All they had left at the costume store was a French Maid’s outfit, so now I’m pregnant (due at the very end of July). While my husband and I are in awe of the miracle that’s taking place right now and stuff, and I do wholeheartedly enjoy going to the grocery store and feeling no remorse whatsoever about purchasing only eight different kinds of salami and a box of Lucky Charms, I’m unsure about what to expect as far as labor and delivery are concerned. Was it magical for you?
With baited breath, or maybe that’s just the shrimp chips and American cheese concoction I had for lunch, Betty S.
Ahhh, Betty, my first was also born at the very end of July (wink, wink). I feel your pain, and have since then shopped for Halloween costumes no later than August. For the past three years I’ve been Scooby-Doo. Anyway, the experience of giving birth is one part magic to nine parts total freaking torture. Get ready to have your mind blown, sister, and not in a good way like when you’re flipping through the channels and that one scene from Fight Club is on where Brad Pitt has his shirt off, but before he’s all bloody and chucking that disgusting lard all over the place.
I do think that you will find magic in the moment when you look into your child’s eyes for the first time and know for certain – regardless of what you thought you believed (or didn’t believe) about God, and how He feels about your eating meat on Fridays, or bacon-wrapped shrimp or what have you – that there is definitely something more powerful than we are facilitating this transaction. After all, this moment is infinitely greater than the sum of its parts. It is bigger than eggs, sperm, fertilization and genetics. In fact, I think you’ll agree that at all of seven squirming, suckling pounds, this tiny human is much, much bigger than you are. Enjoy that moment, Betty, because it is pure bliss and disbelief. But I digress.
For me, one of the less magical moments was when I had been laboring for hours and my husband nonchalantly asked the doctor if she thought he had time to “run out and grab a quick sandwich”. He only did that ONCE, believe you me.
Equally un-magical was during the birth of my third child, when I had declined an epidural, was almost ready to start pushing, and my husband (same one, which may surprise you until you hear about some of his good days) complained to the nurse that he had a giant pimple on his forehead that was really sore. Ivan has many, many strengths, but timing and awareness of audience are not among them.
Mary, it seems to me that your home is not unlike a zoo, and that some of the attractions are actual animals. What are the advantages to keeping pets in an already chaotic household?
I will answer your question in two parts. First, we got a puppy when we also had one, three and five-year-old humans because I did not have quite enough poop to keep track of, to be quite honest. When you love nothing more than having to be aware of when and where pretty much everyone in your family is doing their business, and being required to direct placement of, and clean up after a clear majority of their waste, then my friend a puppy is for you. Or another toddler. Same basic maintenance requirements.
The second part is that it is my firm belief that having pets during childhood helps children understand that all living creatures deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, as my daughter Janie demonstrates with Hunter The Outdoor (No Exceptions!) Cat:
Hi Mary, Long Time Fan First Time Writer Here. I am currently eight months pregnant, and I’m wondering how to re-ignite the “spark” in my marriage. How can we be sure to maintain an intimate connection throughout the rest of pregnancy and into the parenting years?
Mister B., please stop sending me emails and signing your wife’s name to them. You and I both know that she’s passed out in front of ‘Dancing With The Stars’ with a half-eaten box of doughnut holes on her lap right now, the way that Mother Nature intended for her to be during this Glorious Time. That said, I do feel badly for you. Probably the most provocative thing she’s worn to bed lately is a leopard print Snuggie, and that is difficult for both of you. Well, mostly for you…but that’s why I’m going to help you out.
First, get yourself to the nearest jewelry store. Buy the shiniest thing you see; the item that says “Honey, I love you and I understand that you’re tired and uncomfortable but I really miss business time. How’s about you put down the salted caramels for a couple minutes and join me in the bedroom? I promise I don’t notice that your caboose is growing at an alarmingly faster clip than your belly, and that you can no longer control your emissions.” Now give that item to your wife before 8:30pm. You’re welcome.
Now, if your problem is further reaching and you’re wondering how to maintain the same kind of, shall we say, spontaneity and regularity that you once knew in your marriage, here’s what you do: Wait for the birth of your baby and for him to go to college. Now get after it, you two lovebirds, because you have four whole years before he moves back in with you! Wait, did you go and make a younger sibling or two in the meantime? Suckers.
Now it is officially happy hour at my house (definitely after 10am), and it’s really hard for me to type with a glass of wine in my hand even though I can change a diaper that way, so I must sign off. In the meantime, if any of you actual other people have questions for me, please post them in the comments section. But, fair warning: There is definitely such a thing as a stupid question, and that’s my favorite kind. But if you send me one, I’ll likely ridicule you publicly while I’m secretly really grateful.
Until Next Time,