Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Rule #2: No More Tears

This chapter discusses crying and tantrums (not yours, but the baby's).  Rule #2 states, "The attentive mother is one who can anticipate a child's needs at every turn."  In other words, if your baby is bawling, it is due to your motherly shortcomings...their words, not mine.

Everyone feels like crying sometimes, especially babies and new mothers.  They have a lot to cry about.  Its difficult to maintain a happy disposition when you are sleep deprived and your bottom hurts (i.e. childbirth for you, diaper rash for him). 

As far as "anticipating" your baby's needs, well, you can attempt to do that by checking the baby's diaper on a regular basis and remembering to feed him or her.  It also helps to keep them on a schedule.  But, crying and tantrums will continue to occur from time to time. 

For example, both of my children cry daily.  The teenager's crying is usually the result of an argument with her boyfriend, because she has gained weight and "hates her body", or because she is grounded and must endure riding the school bus, where the "little people touch her".  There is no way that I can anticipate any of these things because they are all the result of her own behavior or attitude.

The little one's tears are usually more justified.  She cries because she is teething (we are cutting the last two right now!) or has a booboo of some sort.  Lately though, she cries when someone else has something that she desires or someone is touching her.  Both result in huge crocodile tears and tattling.  I am not good at anticipating these latter two situations.

Some things are just beyond the control of mothers.  Kids cry.  It is our job to console them when they do, but it is not always possible to anticipate the tears or tantrums.  I have plenty of personal shortcomings without adding this to my list.  I'm sure you do too, so let's not beat ourselves up over this one.

I can't help but to be reminded of two of my own mother's expressions when I was reduced to tears or a tantrum as as child:

"Dry it up"
"Do you want me to give you something to cry about?"

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Rule #1: A Child is Born

As I mentioned two weeks ago, I picked up the The Good Mother Guide at Books-a-Million while looking for something interesting to read while on the cruise.  Being a "new" mother again, the title and 1950s style cover immediately caught my attention.  The chapters are brief and each features comical (when read today) excerpts from Ladies Homemaker Monthly, a popular magazine during the 50s.  To follow through on an earlier promise to blog through each chapter, I am going to begin today with a response to "Rule #1: A Child is Born".  This chapter offers an insightful discussion on the typical woman's emotions and appearance on the day that she gives birth to her child.  I won't go into great detail (to prevent a copyright suit) and because you should read the book yourself if you're that interested.  My goal is not to provide a Cliffs Notes version.

To begin, I couldn't help but to compare the photograph in the book with my own photo, taken shortly after 15 hours of labor and delivery.  The contrast startled me a little.  The young mother in the picture was dressed in a white lace nightgown (not practical, considering what had just taken place), and was in complete makeup.  Her hair was perfect and featured a white bow.  Her bundle of joy is a yawning cherub.  He/she is also perfect and doesn't feature the disformities that I've seen in most newborns.

In contrast, I am wearing a green hospital gown and my hair looks like I combed it with a firecracker.  I remember writhing in pain to the point where my hair was completely matted to my head.  I didn't bother trying to comb out the tangles for two days. 

I am not wearing makeup.  It never crossed my mind to apply any, and why would I?  My face is swollen to twice its normal size and makeup would have only drawn attention to this.

My baby does not look like a cherub.  She looks like a conehead.  The top of her head stuck out for over an hour before the rest of her body emerged.  The cone remained until the next day.  She is a little jaundiced, but mostly beet-red and very wrinkled.

The magazine stated that, "A woman never feels more beautiful, more blissfully radiant, than on the day she welcomes her bundle of joy."  I felt neither emotion.  Instead, I remember feeling lots of pain, an internal promise to "never do this again", some disdain for the baby's father, and a thorough annoyance directed at all others in the room who didn't have a baby poking its big head out of their lower extremeties. 

After reading this first chapter, I realize how ridiculous and artificial society was at the time.  "Good" women were really expected to apply makeup and slip into a lace nightgown before the father (who was smoking a cigar in the lobby) and other visitors entered the room.  Well, times have changed.  I've had the displeasure of being in the delivery room with several friends and relatives through the years, and they all look like hell at the end (except for my two cousins, Christy and Dana, who never broke a sweat or mussed their faces and hair during the ordeal).

I've heard some call the birthing process both beautiful and miraculous.  What I've seen cannot even be called pretty.  New babies are smelly and kind of ugly.  Mothers are nappy-headed and bloated.  That's just how it is and that is acceptable now, thank God! I guess I broke Rule #1.

Monday, March 29, 2010


I am cheap.  Just ask Don.  He is always accusing me of being a tightwad.  Well, I refused to spring for a suite on this cruise because I really didn't think that we would spend that much time in our inside cabin.  Don begged me to upgrade several times, but I was sure that there would be plenty of space.

Boy, was I wrong.  Our room was approximately 185 square feet and consisted of two twin beds, pushed together to make a queen/king, a pull-down bunk bed, and a baby crib.  Add a teenager with dysentery, a baby in diapers, and a husband who was attempting to "get his money's worth" by eating as often as possible and suffering the consequences, and that severely limits the amount of oxygen in a room of any size.  By day three, I would have paid any price for a room with just a porthole!

The kids were pretty good, for our kids, who are seldom good.  The baby learned to lie and tattle.  She did both incessantly.  Even when no one else was in the room, she claimed that someone was hitting her or taking her eyebrows (yes, eyebrows).  She prowled in the low drawers and pilfered through the luggage zippers.  When asked what she was doing, in poor English, she would reply, "I ain't doing anything."

The teenager was a slob.  She refused to keep her clothes picked up and before long, the floor was littered with both clean and dirty discarded garments.  I just walked on them after awhile.  I refused to play housekeeper on my vacation.  I must acknowledge that she came in at a reasonable time each night and limited her perfume spraying within reason.  For the most part, she also held in any backtalk that threatened to surface during the trip (She knew it would be hard to escape me in such tight quarters).

My niece, who shared a cabin with my parents next door, found it necessary to get ready in our room twice a day so that she could use my hair straightener.  My husband became so sick of the girls that he began walking around the room in his underwear.  This grossed them out and helped to speed along their "primping" time. 

The kids were good, like I said before.  But after spending ten days in their continuous the the the car again, I began to realize why some mother's eat their young.  Being confined with your children for that long is trying, to say the least.

This was our last big vacation with Skyler as "our child at home".  She will be leaving for college in a few months and we will never have to share another cruise cabin with her again.  It makes me kind of sad.  Maddie will grow up as Skyler did, as an only child.  My daugthers' relationship with one another will change.  As adults, they will most likely remember their individual childhoods, separate from one another.  The close confinement with one another during the cruise might have been miserable at times, but hopefully the togetherness that we shared will endure as a pleasant memory for us all.

Friday, March 19, 2010

"The Good Mother Guide"

After spending most of the day running last minute errands and packing for vacation (my suitcase, Skyler's and Maddie's) I decided to run to Books-a-Million and pick up a few more books for the trip (Yes, I plan to immerse myself in smut and spend this much-deserved time off ignoring reality).

Maddie was taking a late afternoon nap in her carseat and Don was starving so he dropped me off and ran to Burger King for a snack.  He said this was to provide me with a little quiet time, but I think he is scared of books, or atleast large numbers of them housed in the same room.  Libraries give him the heebie-jeebies too.  Skyler was hanging out with friends in some undisclosed location.

At a big discount table set up at the store's entrance, a book entitled, "The Good Mother Guide: 19 Tips for Keeping a Happy Home" caught my attention.  I spent the next few minutes skimming the 19 rules and chuckling to myself.  I couldn't help but to apply the rules to my own practices and those of my mother and grandmother.  My final thought before pitching the book into my basket was, "Motherhood has definitely changed in the past 60 years."  No longer are we still expected to change all of the diapers and pretend that childhood doesn't hurt a bit (thank God!) I decided then and there that when I recuperate from this vacation, I'm going to personally examine each rule in turn and then present my own perspective on each.

This book is based on excerpts from a Midwestern magazine called "Ladies Homemaker Monthly."  I do not know if it is still in publication.  I hope not, but if so, I hope they've changed their way of thinking.  Being a good Southern girl and a touch redneck, I don't know that folks from these parts would have ever adhered to any of the 19 rules presented here.  During the vacation, I'll share the rules with my mother and get her input.  That should be an interesting conversation.  Her favorite quote from the Bible, is "Spare the rod, spoil the child."  Let's see what she has to say about the 18 rules that don't deal with discipline.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Spring Break can't get here soon enough...

Everyone in the house is sick or recovering from some illness.  Madilyn and Don have both been fighting chest colds and Skyler and I aren't feeling too hot either.  It could be spring fever. 

Spring Break is just around the corner and I am trying to get everyone well before we leave on a seven night cruise to the Western Caribbean.  As you know, Skyler graduates from high school in May so she got to pick our destination.  My parents and niece, Lexi, will be joining us.

I am looking forward to having some time off work, but dreading the trip at the same time.  We are driving to New Orleans a day before we depart and will be trapped in the vehicle with the two big girls and Maddie for 10 hours.  I am sure to be as crazy as a loon by the time we get there.

We bought Maddie a new music CD for the trip and a scribble dibble thing.  We are taking the DVD player and several videos for the big girls.  Don has a book on CD and I have a couple of magazines and NYT bestseller packed.  Those items should keep us entertained until we reach the city limits of Hot Springs. 

I have to take Maddie to the doctor for a final checkup before we leave and then I am taking myself for a pedicure.  I plan to spend the rest of the day tomorrow doing laundry and packing.

Spring Break can't get her soon enough....

Think I'll Try My Hand....

I don't know what I'm thinking.  I really don't have time to add a personal blog to my already crazy life, but I have an opinion on things from time to, and well, I need a place to vent.  So hear goes:

I entitled my blog, "Old Mommy, New Tricks" because compared to the other mommies I see when I drop Maddie off at daycare, I am old.  Somehow, this little fact had escaped my attention until she came along.  But, let me back up a bit.

My husband and I were already fantasizing about our future empty nest.  At night, we whispered about all the things we planned to do after Skyler leaves for, convert her room into a home theatre, sleep in on the weekends, walk around naked, etc.  But it was like Jesus was listening and laughing at our little fantasies and decided to throw a monkey wrench at us in the form of Madilyn.  Thus, we became the world's oldest parents (or so it seems at times). 

The girls are sixteen and a half years apart.  Acquaintances who haven't seen us in awhile frequently ask if perhaps the child on my hip belongs to Skyler, insinuating that I am old enough to be a grandmother.  At first I was offended, but now I have accepted the fact that I am an old mommy.  But that's OK.  The way I see it, I have a lot of experience and "tricks" up my sleeve from going through this entire process once before.  I still remember how to install a carseat, warm a bottle, burb a baby, and get poop stains out of clothing.

Despite what some believe, babies haven't changed in sixteen years. However, most of their "gadgets" have changed, and my body has changed.  Giving a baby a bath is now painful.  We have a garden tub and she is big enough to move to the far side to escape from me.  Raising this one is going to be a real challenge, but I am willing to learn some new "tricks" to survive. 

So this is the theme of my blog :)