The Girls

This is the first outfit she pieced together herself. She wears it weekly.  I know, you’re thinking, what a wild cat you got there, with the long skirt and white cardi. But it is so her. She plays it safe. She’s predictable.  She’s not gonna be the flashiest girl in town, but she might be the most dependable.
She gets herself up in the mornings and then comes and makes sure I’m awake too.
“Get up, it’s time to pack my lunch mom,“ She says.
She is just. So. Responsible.  I don’t know how we managed to produce offspring such as her. I’m proud of her, and her simplistic style.  It reminds me that she’s still a little girl. Cautious and tentatively putting her stuff together.  I am so thankful for her.

Especially… Because I have this little hooligan following her.

It’s about the flash! It’s about the twirl factor. It’s about pink and glitter and princess and puppies.
I bought her this lovely dress at Target. It was on clearance. (There were probably 10 in each size on clearance and you can probable find them now, moved on to the Goodwill next door) The colors on this beauty don’t filter into your eyeball properly; they sort of assault the senses.  I knew in an instant this would be SCORE! for her.
She calls it her beautiful dress. She wears it a lot. She loves it.

She is so lovable.  And so so naughty.

She also says this a couple times a week. “I am so fat!” Naturally the first time I heard this I was quite concerned, and all this horrible skinny obsessed culture has corrupted my precious child, and she is already concerned about being overweight.
So I cautiously asked her, “What do you think about being fat?”
And she erased all my fears by saying:
“I love it! I want to be fat, like a superhero!”  You go girl, I was not expecting a goal of “being fat like a super-hero” on her wish list, but it has landed there, and she repeats that phrase at least one time a week.

Then we have this little charmer.

She is such a happy baby.  A lot of people ask me how she’s doing, and if there are any after-effects of the drugs in her system.  The short answer is probably not.  She meets all her grow-chart stuff. We don’t see anything alarming at this point.  The most obvious health issue she has is that she has literally had a cold since the day she was born.
There is lots and lots of snot.  She smiles and giggles.  She sort of sits, and it looks like she will start crawling any day now.

There you have it..those are my girls.

Instinctive nurturing, truth or myth?

I hear the saying “Just follow your instincts; you’re the mother so you know best”.  An implication that a mother instinctually knows what is best, deep down in her heart.  Um.. is this really true?  Or am I just a freak of nature?

When Elena was born I had zero instincts.  My mom was helping me out at first, and I peppered her with questions that first week.

“Should I wake her up to feed her?  Should I just let her sleep? Does it spoil her if I rush to her side every time she cries?  Do the cartoon characters go on the front or back? (Yup my first diaper change I got it backwards)  How do I get her to eat?”

Really, it was bad.  Looking back I am astonished I didn’t somehow damage Elena for life with my limited knowledge of baby care.

I knew two things:  That I wanted to be a “good” mom. (Whatever that is) and I wanted to do things the “right” way. (Again, whatever that is)

I remember feeling overwhelmed at this little child I loved, but felt like I didn’t know her.  I felt guilty because I didn’t really feel bonded at birth like so many people seemed to feel.  And I was obsessively reading all this mothering material hoping it would help it come naturally.

That was six years ago.  Since then I have two more babies.   AND I am pleased to announce that I finally, finally, have a maternal instinct.  Woot woot!

I was sick the week Brandt was born.  Dog-sick, throwing up, and coughing..  Since my mental state was less than optimal, I couldn’t tell if I was in labor or not, and didn’t even tell Gene until it was way too late.  We made it to the hospital, the mid-wife freaked out because I was fully dilated and ready to go.  A couple of pushes later Brandt was born, and I felt nothing.  Physically yes, but emotionally I felt nothing.  I remember thinking “I should hold him because that’s what good mothers do, but really I just want to sleep”.

The next day my mother-in-law came to visit us at the hospital, and she made the remark “Well it’s all worth the pain now, isn’t it?”  I distinctly remember thinking “No, it’s not worth the pain at all” but instead I said “I guess so”.

Then came the year of a fussy baby, and bonding with Brandt came v.e.r.y. slowly.  Now, he is such a sweet kind-hearted kid and I wish I would have better memories of him being born.

When Madelyn was born, it was the polar opposite of Brandt.  I wanted to hold her, and loving her wasn’t a choice I had to make, but it came naturally.

Instinctive nurturing did not happen for me like I thought it would.  I guess I would say I learned how to nurture.  I found my “instinct” through practice, and choosing to do what good mothers do even when it feels goofy and like I’m pretending.

Sarah Hrdy is an author who claims:  “Mothers do not automatically and unconditionally respond to giving birth in a nurturing way.”

She says later: “A woman who is committed to being a mother will learn to love any baby, whether it’s her own or not.”

I found this quote to be consistent with my own experience, and I’m wondering what all your experiences have been.