Tales From the ‘Hood

It’s always a good thing when you can look in the rearview mirror….and laugh at yourself.

Yesterday, I met up with a group of women (and one man–you held your own, lone man–you should know that we kept the labor and episiotomy stories on the back burner for your sake–) to pass one of the long, winter break days. While the kids threw themselves around in ball pits teeming with streptococci, we exchanged stories from the trenches. Tales from the ‘hood. And by hood, I mean, of course, motherhood. (And you, lone Dad).

These informal information sessions are one of my favorite parts of being a mother. They are, I’d argue, also one of the most important. You see, motherhood, much like writing, can be a lonely business and a lot more of it is done inside the confines of your own head than is good for you. But, just like I always feel better when I can get the ideas from the ping-pong ricochet in my head on to the page, I always feel better talking to other parents as well.

Sitting around and talking seems like a luxury, but really, it’s anything but. Aside from honing your multi-tasking skills (yesterday it was smearing some anti-bacterial cream and a band-aid on an injured knee while maintaining my conversation, drinking my coffee and fielding texts from the older child who locked himself out of the house), that village consciousness is absolutely necessary to healthy parental survival. Casual conversation among peers is an important aspect of checks and balances in the ‘hood. It’s a way to make sure you haven’t lost your ever-loving mind in the throes of infant sleep deprivation. It’s a way of finding your sense of humor again in stories of shit and vomit. Most importantly, it’s a way of connecting and feeling less alone during a time of life when, despite a child clinging to you at all times like a frightened koala, you often feel very much alone.

This time we were talking about the ridiculous things we did as first time mothers, when we were flushed with parenting righteousness and middle class, over-educated book knowledge. Many of us were determined to do it by the book, not realizing for years that kids don’t follow a book. You’ve got to figure it out as you go along. Nevertheless…when I think of some of the things I did, said, and believed those first few years, I cringe.

What a monumental ass I was.

Some people may shy away from that obnoxious ghost of motherhood past, let the over documenting, crazy mom of yore fade gently into the background.

But c’mon! Where’s the fun in that?

During my first two years of being a mother, I am guilty of the following (not a complete list, by any stretch.)milk

I was convinced my son might be suffering from Dwarfism because his head seemed too big in relation to his limbs; I also worried he was autistic because he didn’t respond to his name…at three months.

(I should also add I asked my OB/GYN if the baby was epileptic once. She calmly informed me it was hiccups)

Yelled at my mother not to make eye contact with the baby during the middle of the night “No Stimulation!” Actually, I probably hissed it more than shouted it.

Chased my son around the playground with a tofu hot dog to get him to eat. More than once.

Threw myself into the backseat of a moving car to feed the baby because “My God, you heartless fiend (his father)! You want him to wait fifteen minutes for his food?? He’s starving. Starving!”

Moved his bouncy chair every 20 minutes to give him something new to look at.

Kept a journal of how often he ate, pooped, slept.

Religiously clocked screen time allowance to meet American Pediatrician Guidelines, including commercials.

Yelled at my husband for using up all my hoarded ‘tv time’ on a Saturday morning.

Was in his face every minute of every day encouraging enriching behaviors like putting the square shape in the square hole.

Had panic attacks about his dislike of fruit, bread, bagels, pizza, eggs, etc. Incessantly worried he wasn’t getting enough vegetables. Hid vegetables in his food (though never stooped to making brownies with puree kale…even I had limits)

Requested (ok, maybe more like demanded…) sex neutral clothing and toys like school busses because busses know no gender…

Insisted, to my pediatrician, a trained professional, that a love of cars and wheels was the result of social conditioning and not innate preference.

Swore my child would never have soda, McDonald’s, high fructose corn syrup, video games, unsupervised screen time, toy guns.

Clapped like an idiot when he came down the slide.

Said things like ‘well done!’ for minor achievements like breathing and swallowing.

But perhaps worse than any of those forgivable moments of first mom neurosis, is that I know, on more than a hundred occasions, I was holier than thou about my own righteousness.

sad-girlSo, consider this little confession of smarm my bit of penance. A Hail Mary for my early motherhood sins of sanctimony.

Eventually you learn that your child doesn’t need to eat every fifteen minutes, that tofu dogs are gross, and most people grow into their head size.

What you also learn? That time spent trading stories from the ‘hood? It’s priceless.

14 Comments Add yours

  1. When I saw the sonogram picture of my son, I was convinced he would have a big chin, and then blamed my husband’s side of the family because they tend to have big chins. P.S. my son’s has a perfectly formed chin…albeit a big head!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dina Honour says:

      But he’s not a dwarf, right? ;-). It’s amazing the things we convince ourselves of, isn’t it?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. No, no, not a dwarf…ha, ha!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Helen Louise says:

    Brilliant, Dina! That was “priceless”!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. aviets says:

    If we could start over with parenthood, we’d be the most awesome parents ever, knowing what we know now. I was convinced our son (who was our third and yet I was still nutty) would never stand because he wouldn’t hold his own weight while on my lap until he darn well felt like it, at about 8 months. Now he climbs like a monkey at every climbing wall he can get to. Or on trees. Or banisters. Or the roof. What dope I was.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dina Honour says:

      I like to think they will forgive us our craziness because it came from a place of love and concern. That’s what I like to think anyway. I fully expect to have to foot the therapy bill for them too ;-).

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Elyse says:

    Oh I love how supercilious we all are!

    By the time I adopted Jacob, I was a baby expert. I had six nieces and nephews for whom I was always baby sitting. I also “professionally” baby sat for a family who had a new baby every 2 years who entrusted me with their 1 week old babies when I was 13 and 15. (two separate kids, not twins, thankfully) I knew what to do.

    Then we went to Chile in November, which is their spring. The Agency had told us that Chileans over dress their children and that we had to really bundle our new son up. So I did. The kid turned bright red and my infant son started sweating from excess heat. To this day, he will not wear a coat and has been known to walk barefoot on ice.

    We all survived, though!


  5. dana says:

    I swore I would never make a separate meal for my child she would eat what we ate. …… We are a lot of chicken nuggets and broccoli for a few years
    (My weirdo loved broccoli. Hubby hated it. ) 😳


    1. Dina Honour says:

      I swore I would never let mine wear sweatpants to school! I also swore I would never tell the older one to give something to the younger one just to stop him crying. Guess what? 😉


  6. aheartdivine says:

    Oh so good!!! I’m a first time mother of 9 months and I’m trying very hard not to be sanctimonious but it just seems to come naturally. Very glad to know I’m not the only one!!! Also glad to report that the poo and wee journal only lasted a month or so 😉


    1. Dina Honour says:

      A month is great! Welcome to the wild ride of motherhood!


  7. This is hilarious! I was a ‘by the book’ mother and prided myself on it. But now as my kids head into the teenage years, I’m wondering why I bothered with the organic pureed vegetables!


    1. Dina Honour says:

      Oh, the organic pureed vegetables! I shudder to think of the minutes, hours, days I lost when they were young shoving things at them in the name of being a ‘present’ mother. I still fret, but mostly that I’m running out of time to teach them important things like sarcasm ;-).


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