David’s bath time routine looks like this: Tom and I both bathe David, and when we’re done Tom lifts David out of the bath then hands him to me. I wrap him in a towel, then hand him back to Tom. Tom bundles him a little more, then takes him to the changing table to dry him off. [This started when David was an infant and needed to be warmed after his bath. Tom would wrap David in a blanket and snuggle him to his chest. Then the routine just stuck.]
While Tom is drying David off, I’m running around getting pajamas and socks and diapers ready, and cleaning out the tub and putting bath things away.
One day Tom looked at me and said, “You know, I don’t even know how to put David’s bath stuff away because you always do it.”
I smirked, “What’s it like to live in a world where things just magically happen? POOF! Dinner’s on the table! Viola! The clothes are clean!”
And then I realized I was describing the world I grew up in, where my mom never sat down because she was busy cooking, cleaning, sewing, gardening, driving to horseback riding lessons, making homemade cookies and otherwise keeping our house running.
This is my mom moments after I told her I was pregnant.
Now that I’m a mom I appreciate my mom in new ways — the work she did, her dedication to our family. And did you know she has flown to Taiwan five times to see her grandkids that live there? (It might be six. You lose count after a while.)
For years I’ve known Peggy, Tom’s mom, as the mom who will open her home to 20+ college students for the weekend (no, really). She is always kind, always generous, always hospitable.
After Tom’s marathon, he told me that his mom went ballistic he ran past her — screaming and jumping up and down. I was like, “Um. Of course she did. She’s your mom.”
Because when she saw Tom running she didn’t think, “Oh look, Tom’s running. Go Tom!”
She thought, “MY HEART IS RUNNING 26.2 MILES!! IF EXPLODING WOULD HELP YOU UNDERSTAND HOW MUCH I LOVE YOU I WOULD EXPLODE RIGHT NOW!!”
When I watch my mom and Peggy with my baby, I get to see a whole new dimension of who they are. (That’s Grammy and Mimi, respectively.)
The proud smiles, the undivided attention, they way they love him completely.
My first night home with David I called my mom in tears. I can’t remember what had happened except that I was tired and overwhelmed and felt so so unprepared to care for my baby.
She said to me, “Amanda. Follow your instincts. God gives mothers instincts for a reason. Now use them.”
In the moment I was a little bit disappointed. I wanted advice I could use. I wanted advice that would fix whatever was happening.
But she wasn’t giving me fixing advice, she was helping me become a mom.
New moms love complaining about their mother-in-laws. Whenever someone starts a sentence with, “And do you know what my mother-in-law said?” Everyone listens closely because they know they’re about to hear something juicy.
So do you want to hear something my mother-in-law said?
My parenting style is probably different than Peggy’s, but I have no idea what is different, because I’ve never heard criticism or comparison or what she would do differently.
Once she asked me about David’s naps and I told her that I nurse him to sleep every single time I put him down. I felt guilty about it, so I qualified the statement by saying, “I know it’s a bad habit, but…”
She interrupted me and said, “Says who? You have to just do whatever works for you.”
Every mom needs someone to tell them that every now and then, because every mom is unsure, nervous, clueless, and certain that everyone else is judging them and has it all together.
Every mom needs someone in their corner saying: follow your instincts; do whatever works for you.
I had a wonderful Mother’s Day. I got breakfast in bed, a trip to the botanical gardens, and dinner (cooked by Tom) with the Krieger family. Plus, I changed exactly zero diapers.
Mother’s Day is sort of like an extra birthday for moms. But it’s also an excuse to tell the moms in my life how much I love and appreciate them. Thank you thank you thank you.