Maybe Matilda: Motherhood Top Fives

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Motherhood Top Fives

(I saw this post on Fatherhood Top Fives recently on Modern Mormon Men. It got me thinking about my own parenting experiences, so I thought I’d take his post format for a test drive.)

We’ve got babies on the brain around here lately. Well, I should say that Jeff has had babies on the brain since the minute Forrest was born—he’s had a raging, ferocious case of baby fever for about 18 months now, and started asking when we could have a second child when Forrest was 2 weeks old (my response, regrettably, was something like, “Are you joking?! I still have stitches! Leave the room. Now.”)—and the recent births of a new nephew and a few friends’ babies in the past few weeks have me reflecting on my experience becoming a mom. And with one friend after another announcing pregnancies nearly every day, we must be in the middle of baby season.

Motherhood is quite the conundrum. Before becoming a parent, I didn’t expect it to be so wonderful and so difficult; so simple but so confusing; so frustrating and so joyful, all at the same time. It sure started out rough for me. The decision to become a mother was not one I made quickly or easily, and the transition from taking care of just myself to taking care of a screaming, crying, writhing, colicky hellion was, honestly, quite horrible. I hate to admit it, but I did not enjoy much of Forrest’s infancy—he was a beautiful, healthy baby, but he wasn’t easy to live with, and I didn’t adjust particularly well to the constant demands of a newborn. Toss in a family history of depression (including, somewhat ironically, the grandfather for whom Forrest is named), and I shouldn’t have been surprised to find myself feeling miserable and unhappy. As time has passed, though, and Forrest has developed from a screeching hellcat to a mellow, cheerful, hilarious little marshmallow, (not to mention my own acceptance of some big, permanent changes to my lifestyle, routine, and daily habits) I’ve been incredibly grateful to have him in our family and to have the chance to learn and grow right along with him. What truly felt like a life sentence during those first difficult months now feels like the greatest blessing I could possibly imagine.

DSC_0031-1 (We’ve swapped hairstyles since this pictures was taken.)

Top 5 little victories:

1. Teaching him to sleep through the night. I take full credit for that, and it’s probably my greatest accomplishment in life so far.

2. Getting hugs and kisses without asking for them. There’s nothing sweeter than watching him toddle in my direction to collapse on me and give me a sloppy kiss.

3. Watching him laugh and play with his cousins, his aunts and uncles, and his grandparents.

4. Knowing I’ll still love him, even after 3 months of nonstop crying or, more recently, temper tantrums and complete meltdowns in the grocery store.

5. Wanting more kids, even after a very rocky start with this one.


Top 5 little defeats:

1. Allowing well-meant but insensitive comments to upset me during his colicky stage (such as, “I hope you get a better baby next time!” and “I’m glad he’s getting easier—you looked so miserable earlier!”).

2. Being told by my doctor that I had postpartum depression. So much for my delusional, misguided pre-baby visions of blissful, easy parenting.

3. Not accepting offers of help from friends (hot dinners, an afternoon of babysitting, an understanding shoulder to cry on during tough days . . . why did I turn it all down?).

4. Stressing and crying and fighting my way through colic instead of just waiting it out and trusting that things would get easier.

5. Not living near my family sooner. There’s nothing I could have done to change that, but it still hurt.

Top 5 awesome things he does:

1. High-pitched squealing instead of laughing.

2. Walking around with a phone—or anything, really—pressed up to his head, babbling.

3. Handing us the remote when we’re watching a “boring” show and expecting Curious George to pop up instead.

4. Unwavering devotion to his precious blankie.

5. Once again, hugs and kisses.

6. (Couldn’t stick to just 5.) Getting his blankie and lying down on the floor when he’s ready for a nap.

7. (Last one, I swear.) Grabbing a washcloth and cleaning up his own spills. We’ve got this kid trained.


Top 5 baby purchases:

1. Target brand diapers. The absolute best.

2. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. Best $10 we’ve ever spent. That boy could—and occasionally does—watch this movie all day long.

3. Footie pajamas. Ain’t nothin’ cuter than a little boy in footies.

4. Crib mirror. It’s been hanging in his crib for well over a year and he still loves talking to his reflection.

5. Cradle swing. The only place he’d sleep for 4 months straight. This thing is worth its weight in gold.

Top 5 conflicting feelings that come with being a mom:

1. Missing sleeping in on the weekends vs. seeing that adorable smile when he wakes up at 6:30.

2. Being proud of him as he grows and learns vs. getting misty-eyed over his floppy, ooey-gooey baby pictures.

3. His adorable over-the-top excitement when daddy gets home vs.  jealousy that he’s not that excited when I get home.

4. Pride that he handles being babysat so well vs. insecurity that he doesn’t love us enough to be upset when we leave.

5. Resentfulness over giving up the many freedoms of a childless life vs. gratefulness for the big and little events and moments that come with motherhood.

DSC_0100(with one of his many lady friends)

Top 5 traits I hope I can help him develop:

1. Kindness, even to those who don’t seem to deserve it.

2. Courtesy and respect.

3. Faith.

4. Confidence.

5. Thoughtfulness.

Top 5 tidbits of mothering advice I should have listened to sooner:

1. He’s a real person, not a little toy or programmable robot. He’ll have good days and bad days and react unpredictably, and that’s fine.

2. Just chill out. Everything will turn out okay. Really.

3. The birth itself--and breastfeeding, diapering, sleep program, etc.--are not the be all and end all of motherhood. There are many, many, many more important things to focus on. 20 years from now, no one (especially your kid) will care if you breastfed for 2 weeks or 2 years, or swathed his little bum in a cloth diaper or a storebought diaper. Focus on what matters most: time spent together, the values you want to pass on, letting him know he’s loved.

4. Crying—even excessive crying—is not the end of the world.

5. Crying in the mall, in the grocery store, in church, or on a plane also is not the end of the world. If it’s bothering someone, that’s their problem. Just do your best and stop worrying about what everyone else is thinking about you and your parenting skills (or apparent lack of parenting skills).

DSC_0523-1 Top 5 incidental perks of being a mom:

1. Compliments from strangers. Although I don’t know how much credit I can take for his good looks (since he doesn’t look remotely like me), I’ll never get tired of hearing people tell me how cute that little bugger is.

2. A trip to the store alone or an afternoon at a salon while dad’s at home with the baby has never been so fun, relaxing, or rejuvenating before.

3. Realizing I miss him after a few hours apart.

4. A handy excuse to wear favorite clothes that have been stained. I like to pretend my clothes are splattered with fresh, baby-related spills that happened just now instead of 4 years ago at Burger King.

5. Buying sugar-laden snacks. I’d feel guilty buying a 2-pound bag of Red Vines just for me, but hey, we’re sharing it.



  1. I'm glad you said that you aren't tired of hearing how you're baby is cute because seriously he is super, super cute. And has great taste in movies--I loved that movie.

  2. Great list, I can totally relate to so many of those. It was hard for me too to realize that I had to give up a lot of things I was used to (sleeping in, the freedom to go anywhere anytime), but those things are so worth getting big sloppy kisses from my kids and hearing them say "I love you."

    Plus, one day when they're older and enjoying sleeping in, I plan on going into their room with a bull horn and seeing how they like being woken up at 6 am ;) It's only fair.

  3. I agree...there's nothing quite a cute as a little boy in footie pajamas :)

    Great post!

  4. I love love love this list!

    and unfortunately a LOT of it hit home-my precious 5.5 month old baby boy had colic for the first 3 months of his life-I wouldn't wish that experience on my worst enemy! and that's also one of the reasons we're not sure about another one. I don't think anybody really understands until they've been through it. But man oh man, when colic is O-V-E-R...what an amazing little baby they become :)

  5. oh what a great post and those photos are priceless.

  6. Katy--too true, too true! I was honestly floored when I realized what a sweet baby I had . . . all through the colic, I thought he just had a grumpy, mean, nasty personality. It was such a nice surprise when he turned out to be a total sweetheart! Colic is tough, and I'm so glad your little one pulled out of it!

  7. Such great lists! I can't really relate because I have no spawns, but I can definitely appreciate everything you wrote. Forrest is lucky to have you!

  8. Love this post! My son gave me a kiss without asking while I was reading. Seriously the best. Watching them grow and missing the fun baby stage is a struggle with me. I want them to stay little and figuring things out for themselves at the same time. :)

    Thanks for the post!

  9. I love this post. It's so heartfelt and honest. Thank you for writing it. It's hard when so many bloggers out there paint everything as perfect and you wonder what's wrong with yourself. You are truthful and real and I love that. But my husband will probably be frustrated with you because now I have a slight case of baby fever. :)

  10. Is this fever contagious because I feel like I need to catch it soon or the husband and I will grow old sans children? I don't want to rush it but the ol' clock is unfortunately a tickin'.

    This post was seriously so well written. I get tired of the pretending that parenting is easy but "so worth it" posts. This was different. I am pondering some things.

    Way to keep it real, home slice.

  11. What a great list! Wish mine wanted to give away kisses ; ) I'm really relating with the conflicting feelings part right now as I think about the one on the way. Reli might be a completely crazy 2 yr old, but she doesn't get out of bed before 8am. Man am I gonna miss that!

  12. i LOVED this post!! i can relate to the sleep issue. mine is 7 mo and for the first 4 was up hourly at night. I also can relate to the crying. man did i cry after he got here. I wanted sleep,i wanted him to stop crying. Lastly I always tell myself that I miss sleeping in but the best part of my day is walking into his room and being greeted with the biggest smile at 7 am. First wake smiles are the best (i love that you mentioned that)

  13. So I think we're kindred spirits and our boys could be too...
    -Jace is in constant conversations with "JoJo" (his cousin) on whatever old cell phone he can come in contact with. But phone conversations aren't limited to the standard phone... he enjoys talking on remotes, GPS units, and even flash lights. If it can be held to an ear, it's a phone.
    -We've recently discovered a great love of Curious George as well. However, Jace doesn't start with handing us the remote, he thinks he's quite capable of turning it on himself and says "Oo-Oo (monkey), Jace."
    -Blankies are the most precious possession (in addition to a special stuffed kitty).
    -I LOVE Target brand diapers!!!
    -My favorite purchase is a video monitor. I credit it to why my kid has slept well through the night for so long I never needed to go in and look at him to see if he was ok, or could tell by what he was doing if a cry actually needed attention or note.
    -When Jace was a newborn, I loved going to stores just so he could be complimented. It made me feel better about myself.

    Great post, I enjoyed reading it. I also know what you mean about being in the middle of a baby season. I would love to be able to add number two to our family, all the while everyone around me seems to be adding more to their families.

  14. Such a beautiful post.

    And that's the beauty of being a mom. It's not all butterflies and cupcakes, but regardless of how "easy" or not things are, we still love those little munchkins with all our hearts!

  15. Wow, this is such a great idea and so poignantly put. I feel a little bad when I admit that I wasn't a fan of the newborn stage either. It's just so awful! Thanks for a great read!

  16. You are such an awesome Mom! We all have our doubts, but we keep plugging along. Take it from me, a mother of 5 and grandma of 15, enjoy him while you can. Before you can turn around, he will be grown. Just remember this time when he is waiting at the end of the isle for his bride to be. You are doing great. Keep up the good work. And read your manual on raising children. Don't know what the manual is? Of course, it is the Bible!

  17. I think having a second baby was a little easier those first few months simply because I knew better what was going to happen. I had a LOT of my friends tell me they didn't like those new baby times either.

  18. Hey your husband sounds exactly like mine!! Haha literally 2 weeks after our son was born... and ever since, he likes to throw little hints at me: Yesterday he came home from work and while holding Crue he said, "Everyone at work was asking me today when we're going to have another one..."

    Anyway, loved this post. I could identify with a lot of it!

  19. As one who had 3 babies in 4 1/2 years, my advice is to not have them too close together. My first 2 are a year and 10 days apart. Almost like having twins. The 2nd and 3rd were 3 1/2 years apart. About 2 years is a good time between babies. Of course, that is just my opinion. Enjoy your little ones while they are still little. Before you know it they will be teens. =) And when they are, do a lot of praying!

  20. I loved reading your blog about the good and bad things about being a mum. I'm not a baby person. After having my son I just couldn't connect as much as I wanted. Don't get me wrong I loved him but just not the way everyone else was describing. As he got older and became a person then I felt everything that I had been missing out on. My son is now 5 years old and I love spending time with him. My decision was made for me re having another baby as I caught CFS whilst pregnant with my son. The thought of having another baby in the house would fill me with dread. You sound like a fantastic mum!

  21. Rach I love love love this post! So darling. You'll be glad you made it later when baby F is almost 9 years old like my oldest, waaah! Time flies! ps: I can't believe someone said "Maybe you'll get a better baby next time!" Rude, lol! He's a keeper for sure! xo


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