Thursday, March 10, 2011

Momness: Part 1

There are around 8,700 hours in a year and I have been a mom for 13 years so I have logged over 100,000 hours of momness. Malcolm Gladwell says you only need 10,000 hours to be an expert in something. According to Gladwell's calculations I am 10 times better at being a mom than the Beatles were at singing. Finally--something useful from math! So I'm going to give you some insight on momness for free--try getting anything from the Beatles for free.

It is very au courant to be obsessed with your birth and how it will take place--at home, in water, with a doula, with or without medicine, with or without heroics, etc. I've read blogs written by women who yearn for a vaginal birth--that's right YEARN. More power to them. Do whatever you want. Just remember, in the scheme of things, it's still just one day--2 at the most. (Note to people who spent more than 2 days in labor: Save the horror stories for your own blog.) I have no advice about this other than to assure you that, yes--you've thought more about this and read more about it and about Googled it more than any woman who has ever gone into labor. (I'm actually using sarcasm here to make the point that most moms-to-be are thoughtful and do their best. Let's give each other a break instead of insisting that we all borrow each others' birthing pools.) Don't forget your pre-birthing wax! Just kidding! Ah, life is strange.

Then of course everybody wants to talk about nursing. Nursing is good, we all know that. But I think we'd all be pretty proud of ourselves if giving our kids a bottle was the worst thing we ever did to them. Last week I kicked a laundry basket full of toys out of my way and yelled, "I'm so sick of this!" See? Much worse than a bottle. I regret it. I don't regret any bottles, blankies or pacifiers. Kicking a laundry basket is really the opposite of nourishing a baby with a bottle, isn't it? And yet no one ever talks about it. You might give it some thought.

After we have our babies we're all fatter than we want to be and it consumes our life whether we are training for a race, giving up sugar, or doing HCG. I myself have been trying to be healthier and that's a good thing, of course, but it occurs to me that my body doesn't hold me back, let me down, or fail me in any way other than not looking as thin in clothes as I want it to. That's pretty good. The other day my son spontaneously challenged me to beat him around the bases at the park. I went from sedentary to a full out sprint. Was I sore the next day? Yes. Did I beat him? YES. (Did I wet a little? No comment.) I hate talking about "my body" as separate from myself because I think it's sort of gross like when Roger Daltry sings, "But my body feels so good and I still sing a razor line," in You Better You Bet. I hate that part. Anyway, getting back to my body--it's much more reliable than at least half the people in my ward. Sometimes I feel sad that I now weigh what I weighed 9 months preggers with my first baby. Oh well. Much better to be cheerful and appreciate my body. There, there--that's a good body. My body wants to say hi to you. Body, quit being so shy! Oh, body.

Once some of these issues are resolved you can move on to advanced momness. More on that another time.

50 comments:

  1. This post is amazing. Please share more. My baby is only 9 months old so I am far from my 10,000 hour expert accreditation.

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  2. To all the new little moms I know I want to say (actually I do say) "breast milk is just food and breastfeeding is not a sign that you are a better mother or love your baby more. Don't make it into more than it is."

    And how about those women who buy their own fancy hospital gowns? Are they not aware of all the blood and gook that they will have to take home and wash out?

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  3. REALLY LIKE THIS.

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  4. This was a great thing to read first thing in the morning. Thank you for putting a smile on my face right away!

    I've breastfed all my babies (so far-- maybe I'll quit later on?), and I'm all for it, but I'm appalled by how in-your-face the nursing crowd can be. I have many friends who were not able to nurse their babies (and believe me, they TRIED) and they feel so judged by the "breast is best" group. It's awful. So I really appreciate your comments on bottle feeding.

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  5. I gave birth on Wednesday. I definitely needed to read this today. There are no badges or medals for doing things a certain way in motherhood, so I think just doing your best is probably the only way to play it. Thanks for the encouragement.

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  6. AMEN! I've always said that the important thing is getting them here safely, not HOW they got here.

    And the whole body thing? My body is shyer now that it's larger than it once was (which is really inconvenient since I have to do book signings now), but it still does what I need it to do and your comment about your body's reliability compared to ward members was great.

    I so relate to this posting, except for the part about kicking the laundry basket. I wish that was the worst I'd ever done.

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  7. I've told my kids I was miserable and I was going to sell them to the gypsies. I was also crying at the time, so I think there was a good bit of gravitas there.

    Just goes to show you that even if you breastfeed your kids still might act like pukes a lot of the time.

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  8. I hope this is turns out to be a several part series.it's totally brilliant, and true. And tell your body that Carly says hi. Hi, Kacy's body! My body says hi to you, too. That's enough, now, body.

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  9. I really hope that this is part of a continuing series, as well. I feel validated (which is what I really want in reading a blog) that I have logged in a lot of mom hours and I anxiously await your Master Class. . .

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  10. I totally concur with Kacy and her body. I once saw Ringo Starr in concert, and it wouldn't be difficult to mother better than he sings.

    And speaking as a mother of five nursed babies, if you see me staring you down while you are giving your baby a bottle, it isn't judgment you see in my stink eye- it is envy over your still-perky breasts.

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  11. As a mom who has logged 142,788 hours of momness I have to say Amen. I love that you kicked the basket of toys. I think it's good for our kids to see that sometimes we're sick of it. At least that's what I keep telling myself...

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  12. Had a vaginal delivery ... check
    Had a "natural, no epidural" delivery ... check
    Nursed my babies ... check
    Working on my fitness level ... check

    Have a superior, better-than, obsessive attitude because of it ... Oh, I hope not.

    I can't wait to hear more of your "momness" wisdom!

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  13. I think I'm right on target. And my birth story for all my kids was not "amazing." In all three cases, I would use the words "fun" to describe the experience, and add the words, "I love epidurals." Because that's what made the whole thing a fun, kick back experience. It works for me, and if anyone would like to judge me, I will smile politely and then punch them in the throat.

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  14. Oh my.

    You do realize that you are little bit genius, right?

    It's true and I hope you genuinely know it.

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  15. Are you this real in real life? You rock.

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  16. I'm not going to tally my hours, I don't think I was mentally present for all of them.

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  17. I just delivered my fifth baby, four days ago. I'm avoiding making "eye contact" with my body for at least the next five years.

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  18. I need to bookmark this so when people start sharing war stories, I can just say "Wait, go read what she says. Ditto."

    You have a real gift for writing what a lot of us feel, only without coming across as angry or snooty like I tend to when I try to write it down.

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  19. I really liked that one Kacy. Thanks for the laughs.

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  20. I wonder if you ought to multiply the second number by the number of children you have - but then I guess you'd actually end up with a several step word problem, so maybe we shouldn't even go there!

    But as a mom of over 350,000 hours, I want to offer an observation: Most of the commenters (should this be -or? The computer puts a red line under each one.) - and many Mommy Blogs and other things I've read on blogs and Facebook - seem to revel in a kind of negativity, for want of a better word.

    Why is it necessary to point out that some women are obsessed with how they and others gave birth? (Frankly, the epidural crowd is just as annoying to me as the home or natural birth crowd seems to be to some of you.)

    Or nursed or didn't nurse? (I nursed my 6 kids and I think it would be a shame if someone didn't at least get the information and encouragement to make an informed choice that was her own choice.) It's almost as if disagreement means you need to denigrate the opposing viewpoint somehow. Reminds me of "I fear he doth protest too much" or something like that.

    Don't get me wrong - I used to do it too - we just criticized different things in the 70's and 80's and 90's - I had kids over a very long span of time - but I regret that attitude now. It didn't help anything. And I think it stunted me in some ways.

    This may not be coming out the way I mean it - it's a kind of ephemeral swirl of ideas that I'm having a hard time putting into words.

    But think about it. And I won't even go down the path about the worst things I've done - and maybe still do - as a mother.

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  21. I spent an hour at enrichment or whatever they call it these days the other night telling yet-to-be moms what they have to look forward to during and after giving birth. I made sure to add every little detail. I don;t think I made it sound very awesome; in fact, I think they are still terrified. I feel kind of bad about that now.

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  22. I am ready for part 2...

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  23. I'm pretty sure I've spent 10,000 hours on the internet. I guess I should subtract those from my mom-hour total.

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  24. I'm hoping you continue this series.

    (nodding my head in agreement)

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  25. Really amazing post, exactly what I needed to read after a tough day with a poorly baby and an energetic toddler. Phew!

    I had an emergency section last summer when my baby boy came 10 weeks early. He was healthy but tiny and that's all that mattered.

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  26. So, I am wondering, when you had Ellen, was it kind of opposite of your first? Cuz I am seriously so out of it this pregnancy, I have no birth plan, no...anything plan, except we've been buying diapers for 6 months. I never remember what week I am or what I'm supposed to be doing. I'm wondering if I'm just busy with the other three, or if I'm over it, or if I'm such a pro I don't have to think about it anymore. Prolly all three, right? And a little denial mixed in. Anyway, I loved this because, plan all you want, it all just HAPPENS.

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  27. This is brilliant. Before I had my daughter, I was mildly concerned with natural childbirth (was going to try anyway) and SUPER DUPER concerned with not having a C section. Like, I thought it was tragic when people did. I was also a breastfeeding purist. Then my daughter was born, two months early, via c section. Too small to eat orally, much less breast feed(though I pumped). That's when I was like "Whatever dude, there is so much more important stuff to worry about than natural childbirth." So with my next kid, I plan on having it while high on heroin, and feeding the baby pureed fried chicken asap. Ok, maybe not.

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  28. At this point in my life, I don't even remember my pregnancies, labors, or deliveries in enough detail to participate in the conversations of young mothers. And it is great. I sometimes wish I could confer that wisdom (that in a few years it won't matter AT ALL, so maybe get a hobby or something else to add to your repetoire of conversation topics...and quick) to the young mothers in my ward. If they only knew that pregnancy,labor, and delivery are the easiest parts of parenthood!

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  29. Andrea: You said it all!! Hope you don't mind if I quote you!

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  30. PS: I could not love Malcolm Gladwell more. That book was like crack, I read it in one day. I especially like that it gave me something to quote when I tell my kids they have to practice to get good at whatever they are whining about. So hey, guys, that's only 30,000 piano practices! Set the timer and gitter done!

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  31. Thank you for this! My mommy body, yes, even after three years wants to give you a sincere thanks. I cannot wait to read your next post.

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  32. Wonderful post!

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  33. I'm new to your blog. This was such a great post. Thanks for making my day.

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  34. Oh, body! Thanks for this. Laugh out loud funny.

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  35. Did I wet a little??! OMG! Just about woke the baby laughing over that one. ;) Thanks! Loved the whole thing.

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  36. She Used To Walk Fast1:55 PM

    Thank you to Design Mom for pointing me in your direction. What a fantastic post and I could not agree more even though I am only 21,000 hours into this endeavor.

    Thank you for admitting to kicking a basket of toys in front of your kids. Thank you for saying it is not sunshine and loveliness 24/7. It isn't. It is such hard work and my hat is off to every single mother who makes her way through her day in whatever way that she can.

    I live in Salt Lake. Can we become friends please. :)

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  37. THERE ARE NO WORDS TO ADEQUATELY DESCRIBE YOUR POST. I loved it-you are a complete stranger to me, but you brought light to my day just now, along with a good bit bit of laughter escaping my lips. I loved the subtle sarcasm, tres ME :) I loved how you so wonderfully summed up a beautiful answer to all the ugly mommy wars out there. AMAZING-and so true. There are worse things than say...making sure your child SURVIVES :) There are so many women in my ward who worry too much about these things, and I just think about how lucky we are to even have these bodies, especially when they work! ha Anyway, thanks!

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  38. Wow. Now that my kids are 9 and 6, I have *almost* stopped apologizing to others for not breast-feeding, when the subject crops up among other moms (and it still does, even at this age). I have no remorse about it, my kids were (and still are) healthy, smart, and happy. And nursing was so, so hard for me. So thanks again for reminding me and others to drop that particular potato-sack of guilt.

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  39. Anonymous2:51 AM

    Thank you for writing this! I love it, this is LOL funny(only becos I have a 4 year old and a four month old :))

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  40. I love realism. You are so right. I, for one, am not afraid of vocalizing truth. It seems you are not either. Way to go lady. My hats off to you.

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  41. I yearn for a vaginal birth and not ashamed to admit it. That's because I've tried the other way and vag is so much better in every way. Was for me anyway.

    But, C-sections save lives too, so they're great in their own way. I think birth/feeding your baby is an experience in itself to be cherished (or endured) and not compared to more or less important things down the line.

    Someday my kids will present much harder challenges to me than how I birthed/fed them, sure. They already have. But it's all still an experience in itself that I am glad I had.

    How many boys who didn't like me back, or girls who looked at me askance, did I cry over in middle school? How many triumphs did I have in college when I made it on time to at least one class per semester or had one balanced meal? None of that matters at all to me now but it did then and it was an important part of my growing up. I think the same of birth and feeding babies. In the end it doesn't matter, but that doesn't mean it doesn't matter at the time.

    Comparing my own experiences to others in either a judgmental or an overly wistful way is probably where I should draw the line.

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  42. I would never minimize those experiences and I look back on them fondly myself, but I'm trying to provide just a little bit of perspective to any mom who might be agonizing over them right now.

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  43. We just enjoyed my first baby's 24th birthday - just love yourself & your children, it will go by so quickly. I was not able to give birth vaginally - grateful for modern medicine! I was able to nurse - I should have been a nurse maid it came so easily to me. I always felt like I was cheating or lazy.
    Be the Mom, love the children, and pray for guidance - giving thanks often.

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