Truth telling from the front lines of new parenthood

23 Oct


My sister-in-law and her husband recently welcomed their first child, a beautiful, alert baby boy with his father’s mighty paws and his mother’s full lips. When our family descended upon the hospital to meet him for the very first time, the nostalgia struck me more mightily than I’d expected. It felt like a lifetime ago and not merely three years that my husband and I snuggled in a hospital bed with our own firstborn. Yes, we’ve been blessed with another baby since and may add to our family in the future, but those early days with your firstborn are…incomparable.

Not that my sister-in law and brother-in-law need any advice from me (they’re totally nailing parenthood), but this long-ago post about my husband’s and my first month as parents remains hilariously true.

Originally posted on Priss & Vinegar:

Don’t let those chipper smiles fool you: these people are mere hours of sleep deprivation away from legal insanity.

We’ve been at this parenting thing for a month now, and thus far it has been equal parts heartwarming and hilarious with a side of exasperation. Caring for a newborn is a crash course in the limits of one’s patience, sleep requirements and general standards of hygiene. The learning curve is unrelentingly steep, and the Hus-b and I are doing the best we can to keep up while still showering regularly and occasionally leaving the house. For better or for worse, these are our observations so far:

  • Disposable nursing pads make excellent beverage coasters.
  • Baby yawns are seriously adorable.
  • In two visits in to the pediatrician, the only ones who have gotten shots or cried have been me and the Hus-b.
  • Despite decades of doing your own hair with reasonable proficiency…

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Television & Takeout: The Surprising Magic of Things You’re Not Supposed to Do With Your Children

22 Oct
Thank you, ({gulp} television?

Thank you, {gulp} TELEVISION?!

At the end of the day once the baby is asleep and big kid bedtime hasn’t quite arrived, I’m wiped, which means my daughter gets to watch a little TV. (Depending where you fall on the parenting spectrum, this either makes me a monster or your soul sister.)

My daughter’s recent shows of choice? “Doc McStuffins” (I’m feeling you, Ron Swanson) and “The Incredible Dr. Pol.” Far from rotting her sweet little brain, they’ve instead been…thoroughly enriching? Her comfort with the graphic veterinary procedures shown on “Dr. Pol” (always watched with a grown-up by her side) meant she was game when I suggested mounting a dead moth we’d found on a toothpick for “examination.” The kid doesn’t spook at the sight of an owie, or even blood; she’s riveted.

Watching these shows has also unveiled some surprising competencies. My daughter’s Doc McStuffins doctor kit taught her to say (and use) an “Otoscope.” When toys need new batteries, just like Doc McStuffins she evaluates what’s wrong and (supervised) uses a grown-up, non-toy screwdriver to replace batteries. When I’ve asked why she likes these particular shows, her response is “Because they help people.” I mean…

Takeout dinner (the other cornerstone of exhausted parenting) has also proven itself not to be the monster I’d feared. Because I’ve followed through with my commitment to home cooked meal planning, the contents of the white paper takeout cartons I brought home last night were suddenly exotic. “What IS this food?” my daughter exclaimed as she dug into a plateful of rice noodles and grilled pork. What followed was a conversation about Vietnam, the difference between countries and continents, and where we might identify them on the globe in her bedroom. Once confirming that they sell dolls in Asia (a crucial detail), my daughter declared that she would like to “fly to Asia, eat noodles and buy a pink baby doll.”

This is not an ode to my being a “bad mom.” (I’ve grown weary of those thinly-veiled humble brags. “I’m suuuuuch a bad mom because my little darling has a regular bedtime!”) Instead, it’s a liberation: as long as you’re being a thoughtful, engaged parent, it does’t really matter what you do with your children. So cut yourself some slack: put Postmates on dinner duty and pop on a “Wild Kratts” episode. Your kid isn’t just going to be “just fine” if she watches a little TV or eats the occasional pad thai dinner; she’s going to be great.

{Expert Only} Advanced Maneuvers of the Seasoned Parent

20 Oct

There is a moment in parenthood when you surpass the foreignness of your post-kid existence and start to think: I’ve got this. You know, when you can fold the stroller without cursing; breastfeed in any number of public places; and survive outside your home for at least an hour armed with only a swaddle blanket, keys and $20.

These moments can fool you into complacency. It is often precisely when you think you’ve got this baby thing dialed that things get weird. The universe will not hesitate to send an exploding diaper your way just to remind you that parenthood is the most humbling (and profoundly messy) of human experiences.

But still, it feels good to be a gangsta. In addition to nursing while hiking Mt. Tam and staging our entire San Francisco apartment while my kids had hand, foot & mouth disease (and my husband was gone all week on business), these are my finest moments:


Mastering the tandem kid hold. (I pity the fool who pisses off the natives when everyone demands “Uppy!” at the same time.)


Mise en place avec Ergo Baby.


Two kids, one swing.


Snapping the elusive two-kid selfie.


Walking a mile-and-a-half roundtrip for preschool drop-off (and a coffee break) without waking the newborn. (Three weeks postpartum.)


In case you were wondering, my husband is also a ninja. Moscow mule? Check. Sleeping infant? Check.


Taking a newborn and a two year-old to a super hipster-y brunch joint. With an hour-long wait list. (We so crazy.)

On Not Capturing *Every* Moment

16 Oct


Have you ever seen your child do something awesome and your very first thought is, Where’s my phone? GUILTY. Once you get in the habit of Gramming your kids’ unstoppable adorableness on the regular, it can become a difficult habit to break.

So it seemed prescient when, as I read Peter Reynolds’ “Ish” to my children last night (a truly magical, must-have book to those unfamiliar with it), we happened upon this passage. BOOM. I just got served by children’s literature.

This is not to say I’m going to stop snapping pictures of my children all day long. (Because, please.) I treasure those pictures, whether they end up on social media or just lost amongst the thousands of snapshots on my phone. But sometimes, there are moments so delicious that to capture them would be to miss the point entirely. The next time that happens, I’m going to resist my twitchy iPhone hand and just marvel.


Excerpt from “Ish” by Peter Reynolds.


The WHATEVER, DUDE Guide to Surviving Your Two Year-Old

14 Oct

Two in a nutshell.

I’ve lost track of how many readers have asked for advice about two year-olds, because, well, two year-olds. Two is the heart of toddlerhood and the noisy swan song of babyhood. It’s no wonder parents dread it so.

But you guys, seriously, two isn’t that bad. (And I made it harder on myself by adding a newborn to the mix.) Looking at it in the rearview, the infamy of two year-olds really does seem undeserved. They still nap regularly; they’re ADORABLE; and they’re getting smarter but are still just dumb enough to fall for your parenting tricks (“Oh, look! A firetruck!”)

This is not to say that two is easy: it can be angsty and embarrassing and messy and infuriating, but more than anything else, it’s FRUSTRATING. Frustrating that they dawdle on the way to school, frustrating that they want to wear insane mismatched outfits, frustrating that they just can’t sit still and keep their hands to themselves. I used to let all of this make me really angry until I borrowed one of my brother-in-law’s mantras: Whatever, dude.


You want to run while the rest of the family is eating brunch? Whatever, dude. At least 50% of two year-old tantrums happen because they’re hyper or bored. Run it out, girl.


You want to make our morning coffee run dressed like Belle? Whatever, dude. Letting you make simple daily choices makes you feel powerful and less likely to flip out when I really must insist on you not wearing a princess costume.


I’m pretty sure the baby isn’t having a good time, but he’s not crying so, uh, whatever, dude. The foundation of sibling bonds?


Eat a burrito in your carseat? Whatever, dude. I’d rather wash a carseat than deal with a stage 5 hungry toddler meltdown.


Climb out of your crib? (1) No chance that fall would actually hurt you at this stage, and (2) you don’t have the cojones to actually jump. WHATEVER, DUDE.


See what happens when I don’t say “Whatever, dude?” I should have just let her nap in a wool sweater in 85 degree heat and chalked it up to a teaching moment.

This is two.

You want to drink milk from a bottle even though the pediatrician says not to? Whatever, dude. Your teeth aren’t rotting and we all know braces are in your future anyways, kid.


Paint every white shirt in your closet? Whatever, dude. That’s what bleach is for, and getting messy is terrific for your motor skills and cognitive development.


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