It is with great love and reverence that I open the Mamma Anthologies with wisdom shared by my sister.
Thank you, sweetness.
Little Tidbits from a Second-Timer
I am Hannah. A surprised-to-be-27-year-old wife, mother, pregnant lady. Sister, daughter, granddaughter. Opportunistic reader (when you're a parent to a toddler, that's as steady as time for reading comes). Fishing-hiking-nature-appreciating tree climber and creek explorer. I am the middle child in a line of girls that begins with my esteemed blog-hostess and ends with our little sister, Brittany. I am honored that Ash has asked me to guest blog as I am by no stretch of the imagination qualified. But I’m working on it.
So. What am I qualified to talk about? Hmmm. As a soon-to-be mother of two, I like to think there are a few things I learned from #1 that I will be able to apply to #2 - without, you know, the whole tearsandtrialanderror part. So as opposed to jumping into the turbulent waters of motherhood again with no clue, I’m giving myself permission to jump in already slightly-armed this time….with these little tidbits. (And when I say “Dear Self,” feel free to apply these to “Your Self” if you find them helpful.)
Dear Self: Acquire a really good baby carrier. I like the looks of this one because, (A) It’s made in the USA by a small business, (B) It spreads the weight of the baby over a large area of your shoulder, (C) It’s made of breathable material (I learned the hard way how much heat is generated by you + baby + a non-breathable wrap on walks in the summertime), and (D) It’s easier to put on than a wrap or a carrier with lots of buckles and straps. The wrap I do have was literally a sanity-saver in the first months of our son’s life. He was colicky and carrying him snuggled up against me was one of only 3 ways to soothe him. (The other 2? The vacuum sweeper and sitting outside on the porch swing.) Plus it freed my hands so I could do important things. Like brush my teeth.
Dear Self: Get more cloth diapers to complete your stash. Say what? You bet your bloomers I did. I used cloth diapers on our first child from the time he was about 9 months old until now (he’s in undies these days) and I wish I’d had the guts to try them sooner. If you haven’t looked into cloth diapers within the last 3-4 years, you probably still have an old-school image in your head of what’s involved. Debunk that notion with some research; see what’s out there. It. Is. Amazing. And it really, really bothered me to use disposable diapers and know what my purchases were supporting. Every stinking one (ha ha, pardon the pun) will still be here when my great-great-great-great grandchildren start diapering their kids. They never biodegrade. Just like all the plastic we so cheerfully use. But that’s another soap box for another time. Suffice it to say I buy in bulk, buy reusable, and deeply believe in the saying, “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.” So (after my own personal researching) cloth diapering made perfect-enough sense for me to jump in head first. I would do it again in a heartbeat. If you need a starting point (it can be overwhelming), I can personally recommend BumWare All-in-Ones and Blueberry All-in-Ones, both of which are adjustable in size and so they’re much more cost-effective. BumWare comes from a wonderful lady named Izabella in Pennsylvania and Blueberry is made in Arkansas. Both answer (even dumb) questions PROMPTLY.
***I am looking forward to trying other brands with Little Mr. #2, especially those I’m finding on Etsy.com (love supporting small business owners). Like this one. And this one.
Dear Self: Start a bedtime routine way sooner than you did with Little Mr. #1. It was a saving grace. Research and my own experience shows bedtime routines are invaluable for physical, mental, and emotional health in babies, kids, and adults. They even trigger the body to begin producing sleep-inducing hormones. When we started ours, Little Mr. #1 settled down, started sleeping longer stretches, and got some relief from his colic. Me? I also settled down. And started sleeping longer stretches. And the world, which I was beginning to believe was in nuclear fallout, began to settle back into place around me. All because we gave that sweet little boy something he could predict. A good start for his Circadian Rhythm. Remember that gift and give it a little sooner this time.
***Our bedtime routine with Little Mr. #1 (and soon Little Mr. #2) goes like this: At our set time the family stops what we are doing and puts toys away/straightens up the house. Then we run him a bath, he gets to play in the tub for a little while, and then one of us bathes him. Then to his room for jammies and lotion and whatnot, then we take turns telling him night-night and lay him down. Period. He knows that means it’s time to go to sleep and we won’t be back in until morning. Unless he’s sick or whathaveyou. Obviously. We aren’t Vikings. Sheesh. If you would like ideas there are some good articles online. I especially like this one and this one. Keep in mind your bedtime routine will change as your Little grows. Ours has changed by several steps a few different times. Be flexible and find what works for you and your family.
Dear Self: Let people who offer to help you actually help you. Don’t smile and thank them but politely wave them off. Here’s the deal: Either they have been there and know how monumental a few hours of help would truly be, or they have no clue what they are in for and might as well learn while you get a break. Even if all you do is lay down and close your eyes for a few minutes.
Dear Self: Even if Mr. #2 is colicky like Mr. #1 was, remember “It Won’t Be Like This For Long.” (Cue Darius Rucker song in background and wipe moisture from your eyes like the sap that you are….because it’s so achingly, heartbreakingly, beautifully true). When you were bogged down in the murky, colicky depths of Round 1 with Little Mr. #1, it seemed you would be disheveled and spit-up covered and exhausted and rocking a wailing babe the rest of your days. You wondered what in the world you’d been thinking; what had you unleashed upon your life and the world? And look at him now. You’ve only just turned around twice and he’s potty trained, honey. He picks out his socks and eats blackberries with mustard. He delights in piles of leaves and stacking leftover lumber and hearing bluejays bicker. He grins “Cheese!” with his eyes closed and begs to be read to. He dances to Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and chases the dog with his toys and only eats olives after he’s stuck them on his fingers first and hugs you at the end of every day and says, “Nye nye” so sweetly and sleepily it breaks your heart a little every time. And in those breaks and cracks he plants little glowbug seeds of purity and joy and hope and exploration that will grow into brave wildflowers by morning. Breathe it in, Dear Self. Even the hard parts. Because it really will be like the blinking of an eye. I think you know that now.
Sites I Dig
The Road is Home
The Seed & Plate
Sharon Covert Photography
The Define School
The Noisy Plume
Sarah Gee Photography
Fox & Owl Studio
The Stork and The Beanstalk
Mellow Yellow Photography
A Simple Little Journal
What I've Been Reading
The Girls by Emma Cline
A Land More Kind Than Home by Wiley Cash
Dark Places by Gillian Flynn
Never Broken by Jewel
Hold Still by Sally Mann