Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Mother Is the Word for God

My senior yearbook quote went something like this: "Mother is the word for God on the hearts and lips of all little children."  At the time, I thought it was just a cool line from the movie 'The Crow.'  Then, in doing research for this post, I found out the phrase is actually a famous quote by William Makepeace Thackeray (famous English novelist from the 19th century - thanks Wikipedia!).  And the closer I get to having a little nugget, the more I realize how much I believe in those fifteen words.

My mother's advice when it comes to raising children is gospel. There is no one whom I trust more. I know I am lucky. Some people have been forced to say goodbye to their moms way too early. This makes me unbelievably sad and ridiculously attached to my mother.

We don't live close. She is in the Sunshine State, I live where the sun don't shine (at least it didn't this summer). This distance makes our relationship tricky. We are very good on the phone; speaking a few times a week about grandmother (and her cat), the weather (it's great there, sucks here), my brother and his family (a trio of kids under age 6 - yikes!), anti-aging miracles (flax seed, fish oil, Greek yogurt) and whatever sporting adventure she's up to lately (also an anti-aging miracle).

In person though, we need a warm-up period.  I'm still trying to figure out why that is.  Perhaps it's distance.  Maybe it's that we are both adults with our own opinions, methodologies and beliefs.  Or it could just be that our mother-daughter dynamic has altered with age.     

But there is one area where we always mesh - raising children.  The reason is simple.  She is the best mother I've ever seen (and, obviously, known).  And that is why her advice trumps all others.

So here, in no particular order, is the best mothering advice I've gotten (so far) from my mum:

*Babies always need to wear socks (unless it's wicked hot out)
*Kids need structure and a set routine 
*Naps are a must - everyday
*If you don't like a food, your kid won't either (even if the nugget has never tried it)
*Breastfeed (if possible)
*Sleep when your baby sleeps (screw the housework)
*Babies need to go to bed early and that means they will wake up early - Deal with it
*No overnight pull-ups
*Use a pack-and-play
*Babies and toddlers must have the fat of whole milk
*Have a sit-down family dinner as often as possible when the kids are old enough
*Cut the end off the pacifier when you don't want them to use one anymore
*Have a cartoon character "steal" their blanket when it's time to grow out of it
*Take trips just for mom and dad - Leave the kids with the g-rent's
*When breastfeeding at night, sit in a rocking chair with the lights off - Just be there in the quiet together

I'm not deluded enough (yet?) to think that I'll be able to follow all of these things to the letter.  But if my mum says that's the way to go, then I trust her.

Now, if only I could believe her when she tells me that labor does not hurt.....

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Weight of Mommyhood

I am not a thin girl. By doctors’ standards, I’m not obese either. I’m what people refer to as an athletic-looking girl. That’s a nice way of saying I’m chunky. Boys in this category are called husky. Whatever you call it, the truth is I’ve got meat on my bones.

Weight has always been an issue for me. When I was younger my brother would torment me by asking if I’d painted my jeans on (nowadays that may be a compliment to those women who can wear ‘skinny jeans,’ another style that is off-limits to my squishy body). As I got older, and trained harder for sports, my body leveled off. Through high school and college, I weighed between 145 and 150 pounds. Not bad for a 5’8” frame. Again, I’ve never been a thin girl but during those years much of my weight came from muscle.

Then a funny thing happened when I moved to the Midwest. I discovered foods like tater tot hot dish (a casserole to my non-plains readers out there), slow-cooked roasts and broasted chicken, and I re-discovered comfort food favorites I had long ago given up like potatoes and lasagna.

I also fell in love with SuperFutureDad (he’s the cook responsible for all those yummy dishes). And the time I had been devoting to the gym and staying in shape, quickly gave way to cozy nesting nights with him on the couch, each of us with our own bucket of popcorn. Needless to say, I began gobbling down the memory of what I used to look like with fistfuls of buttery kernels.

And then I got a vicious wake-up call. Earlier this summer, I went to the doctor to talk about having a baby. I stepped on the scale, fearing the worst, and nearly dropped an F-bomb when I read the number: 178 pounds. Ok, that was SO MUCH worse than I expected. I finally accepted what I knew to be true; I was no longer ‘athletic.’

Immediately my head filled with dreadful images of what pregnant me would look – and feel - like. Shapeless muumuu’s on TV. Four chins. Gestational diabetes. More rolls than the local bakery. Shortness of breath. Cankles. Hypertenstion. The list was endless. I weighed so much, my doctor told me I should only gain 15-25 pounds during gestation. I knew for a fact that most of my skinny friends gained about 30. What a blow. I felt like Shamu. Only Shamu, being a whale and all, is actually allowed to gain upwards of 400 pounds during a pregnancy (technically, Shamu is a boy, but you get the idea).

As I left the doctors office, I vowed to shape up before getting pregnant. Sounds slightly counterproductive, eh? But for me, being the ‘athletic girl’ has always been my thing. It’s what helps keeps me shopping at the same stores that advertise in my favorite magazines, and most importantly, it’s what has kept me healthy. Healthy enough to have a safe pregnancy. Healthy enough to be an active mother. Healthy enough to be around for a long time for my kids. I’ll never be a MILF, but I do want to be a good example of how a healthy, athletic mother should live her life; if for no one else than for me and my family.

So, I’ve got yoga and dance classes on my roster for fall. Anyone want to join me?