Of Cuddles and Babies and Leaving the Dishes.

After the initial shock has worn off, I find that I am anticipating a brief return to the life of floppy newborn snuggles and baby delights. While knowing that I will have a teenager and a threenager at the same time is daunting, I also know how very, very quickly those intense, tiny years fly by. Soon I will blink and this bonus doodle will also be potty trained and beginning to read and able to buckle his/her own car seat. I know how quickly the years pass because I have already flown through them once. As a seasoned traveler, I am less anxious this time around (please remind me of this when I re-enter the potty training years.)

There is a temptation, I think, for those of us through those years, especially those who look on those years through the tinted lenses of nostalgia or regret, to try to encourage new mothers by reminding them of how short the years are. Sometimes those encouragements come in the form of “reminders,” in many and varied poetic form, that babies won’t stay babies, along with an admonition that everything else will still be there when the baby grows up. The result, unfortunately, is that when you’re washing dishes, so the rest of your family doesn’t get food poisoning and die, you hear this poem in your head and feel guilty for not rocking that baby who will be grown so quickly, but when you’re rocking and feeding and walking and bouncing that baby so many times you’re feeling guilty for not cherishing it all in your heart. Not so encouraging in those fragile months of limited sleep and hormonal unrest.

Here is what I know going into the baby years again, that I wish I had known the first time around. Maybe this will help someone walking those sleepless floors, wearing exhaustion and spit up.

The baby years are short, but these aren’t the only snuggles you will have. This completely dependent little one will grow up so quickly you will wonder where it went, but my nine year old mackerdoodle still holds my hand crossing the grocery store parking lot. The cheesedoodle will turn eight in two weeks, and he still wants to start his morning with a mama snuggle before breakfast. I haven’t walked a floor to calm a child in years, but every time I sit down at least one child wants to sit beside me, and rest a head on my shoulder, or a hand on my arm. Yes, the baby years have a sweetness to them unlike any other, but so do all the other stages. This is not the only shot at sweetness.

Yes these years pass quickly, but the beauty of parenting doesn’t pass with them. They won’t always need your hand, but they may still choose to hold it. Soon you won’t be able to carry them to bed at night, or sling them up on your shoulders, but you will continue to carry them in ways too numerous to count. They won’t always call out for you in the middle of the night, but they will still want to tell you about their dreams (real and imagined) in the morning. They won’t always need food at inconvenient times and places, but that bonding over a meal isn’t going away soon. It’s true that “babies don’t keep,” but the love and the beauty and uniqueness of motherhood grows with them. Even those tasks you may feel are sucking away precious memory time will become side by side moments of learning, and chatting, and “soul snuggling.”

Hold the baby, rock the baby, and wash a dish or some clothes, or wipe some dust along the way. This adventure is a marathon, not a sprint.


Competely Irredeemable

Our culture likes to tout the idea that everything can be saved given enough patience, hard work, and money -preferably through public and private grants. This is not actually true. There are some things that we cannot redeem, no matter how we would like to.

Yesterday the snickerdoodle did what babies do, and being her mother I had to change her. I lay her on our bathroom counter, that also doubles as a changing table, and reached for the new bag of wipes. She reached for whatever happened to be closest to her exploring hands – in this case it was my toothbrush. As I tore the seal from the bag of wipes, she plunged my toothbrush directly into the center of her diaper deposit.

Completely and utterly irredeemable.

That’s it. Just a really gross story about my toothbrush and some poop.

You’re welcome.

Let’s Talk About Sleep, Baby

If you ever want to stir up some controversy around mothers of small children, bring up the topic of naps and sleep. Sure, there’s strong opinions on pacifiers, breastfeeding, vaccinations, etc., but the real hot button is napping. I am sad to say that I recently had the urge to lovingly, and in great respect, slap one of my friends when she complained that her three and a half year old wasn’t napping anymore.  Neither of my two older doodles napped past two and I suspect the snickerdoodle will emulate them in that. I applaud any woman who gets to take that middle of the day break from the on demand call of motherhood for as long as possible. I applaud you, but please don’t ask me to feel sorry for you when it ends.

At the same time my one friend was mourning her preschooler dropping his nap, another woman I know took me to task because my snickerdoodle was napping at 1:30 in the afternoon. Apparently it is not an approved napping time for an 8 month old. I didn’t get that memo. In fact I have often and repeatedly been questioned on my children’s naps or lack there of. The attitudes vary from incredulity to slight suspicion. I have been told in every way imaginable that my children should nap longer, more often and later in life than they do. The general consensus of all the unsolicited sleep advice in my four and a half year parenting journey has been that when it comes to sleep I am doing it wrong. All of it.

I only bring this up now because for several weeks my snickerdoodle (who is actually the best sleeper of the three, despite having an unauthorized nap schedule) has been just off. She hasn’t been eating and she hasn’t been sleeping and then she developed constipation and a fever. The rational part of my mind knew that she was probably going through a minor childhood sickness, but that part of my mind is surrounded by the mama part that kicks it in the sensitive bits until it shuts up. I called the nurse and was told to monitor the fever and give her acetaminophen (Tylenol) and call if there was vomiting, diarrhea, or lethargy.

“But she’s been waking up at 2 in the morning and not going to sleep until 5! What do I do about that?” I begged.

“Don’t let her sleep so much during the day.”

Not exactly the answer I was expecting. While part of me wanted to reach through the telephone and pull her lip up over her forehead, there was also a part of me that wanted a recording of a medical professional advising that a child nap less in order to sleep more at night.

It turns out she was just under the weather. The constipation cleared up, then the fever, she started breastfeeding well shortly after that and today went back to eating solids. I also realized that when she wouldn’t settle in the wee hours of the morning a dose of teething tablets would do the trick.

Interestingly, though, when we limit her to an hour of sleep in the morning and an hour of sleep in the afternoon (breaking yet another cardinal mothering rule, and waking a sleeping baby, twice a day)  she goes to sleep easier, and earlier, and stays asleep longer. Despite more than four years of people telling me my kids aren’t sleeping enough, it turns out that the one suggestion that has actually worked was the one to let them sleep less.

A Doodle Update

Well, the doodles have been up to a little bit of everything, and as my friend Suzanne requested that I take a break from writing posts that convict her I thought now was a great time to brag on my adorable children.


While I would normally begin in chronological order, our cheesedoodle news is pretty cool. On Monday we had a very successful speech assessment for him. They put him through a series of physical and mental tests and evaluations which he really quite enjoyed. His hearing is fine. On all tests of language and comprehension he is testing at the level of a three and a half year old (he’s two for those who have lost track) so apart from his total lack of vocabulary he’s way ahead.

He’ll be seeing the speech therapist once a week to work on the physical mechanics of speech. She’ll be playing games with him to help his mouth form the shapes of sounds and make the connection between what he seems to be hearing in his head and what he isn’t doing with his mouth. We are very excited to have a game plan and to know that what we perceived as intelligence and comprehension wasn’t just wishful thinking on our part or an attempt to compensate for his lack of vocabulary.

Cheesedoodle requisite funny story: I am trying to introduce the cheesedoodle to the concept of potty training. After an initial enthusiasm he has figured out that this means a disruption in his normal play time and has become resistant to the concept. As many of the potty training books recommend using positive peer pressure, I gave him the following “pep talk” while changing a diaper a week or so ago:

Me:”Zac and Elijah use the potty. Caleb and Austin and Nathan and Isaac use the potty. Right? Those big boys all use the potty, right?”

He looked me right in the eye and nodded clearly.

“So don’t you want to be a big boy like those big boys?”

He put his finger on his lips, and tapped them for a moment, as if thinking, then looked at me and said, “Uh-uh” while shaking his head.


Our snickerdoodle is almost 6 months old, which is stunning to me. The first year goes faster for each consecutive child. I can only assume at child six or seven they begin walking at three days old. (Maybe THAT’S how those super huge families do it.)

Regardless, she’s a delight. She’s working very hard to sit up after eating, and can generally get herself into a 3/4 crunch unassisted. She is also working to sit alone, and can sit for short periods on a lap, or a bed, or somewhere that molds under her bottom. She has two bottom teeth, but despite more than a month of anxious chewing and copious amounts of drool, no other teeth have arrived. I am fairly relieved by that, being her sole source of sustenance at the moment. She has had a few helpings of sweet potato and a little bit of oatmeal cereal, but her tongue thrust response is still so strong, she’s clearly not ready for more than the odd test tastes. I’m okay with that too.


Our oldest doodle continues to have us in stitches most moments of the day. She has discovered an anime series on Netflix called “Eon Kid” and walks around the house singing the theme song, but in true makerdoodle fashion she has declared herself to be Eon Girl whose primary super power is “the power to SPARKLE!” She is also in a lining things up phase. I often walk into a room to find my little ponies, or fisher price animals, or any number of things, lined up neatly across the floor, as waiting expectantly for something.

Her most notable achievement at the moment, however, is in the area of growth. Around the time the snickerdoodle was born the mackerdoodle’s 3T pants got to that slightly embarrassing too short length. You know the one. They were all riding high on her ankles, but not high enough to look like crops. I put them in the “too small” box and set aside the 4Ts for when the cooler weather would return. Three weeks ago I pulled out said 4Ts and they were riding high on her ankles! She’s completely skipped size 4 and gone on to size 5 (inconveniently, the same size her youngest cousin is also wearing.) but thanks to some hand me downs from other friends and a great friend who happened to find a whole batch of girls size 5 jeans at Goodwill for a dollar a piece, she’s all set for the winter. It’s just another reminder that this baby of mine isn’t a baby anymore.

Mackerdoodle requisite funny story: There are so many from which to choose but the one that comes to mind right now is her reaction when we arrived home from the cheesedoodle’s speech evaluation. She put one hand on her hip and said, “So? Does he have words yet?”

So there you have it. doodle cuteness. Maybe I can convict Suzanne tomorrow.

I Wish . . .

During my childless days I would often hear mothers say, when looking at a newborn or infant, “I wish they would stay that little forever.”

I used to think, “What? Are you some sort of masochist?”

Today the snickerdoodle woke up happy and cooing, and as I went to collect her happy baby self, I could hear the older doodles in the living room. The conversation sounded like this:

M: Leave me ALONE!

C: uh-UH!

m: I’m trying to play wif my PONIES! Leave me ALONE!

C: uh-UH! uh-UH!

M: Mama! Help!

For just a brief minute I found myself looking at this little bundle of hugs and smiling cuteness and thinking, “I wish you could stay . . .”

Because she’s the easiest she’s ever going to be right now.

The easiest and the hardest. The most delightful and the most exhausting.

When the doodles are teens they will be the easiest and the hardest, the most delightful and the most exhausting. Each stage is wonderful and challenging and delightful and disgusting and I want to live through them all, in the moment, without wishing myself back to the past, or ahead to the next place.

So I don’t wish.

Most of the time.

Taming of the Hair

One of the things women often appreciate about pregnancy/breast-feeding hormones is the thick, glossy, luxurious mane of hair it produces. There are entire chapters in pregnancy and early child care books about dealing with the inevitable postpartum hair loss that comes somewhere between the 4th and 6th month for most nursing mothers, and the disappointment that comes with that.

I, on the other hand, have thick hair when not under the influence of hormonal happy hour, so over these last five years (remarkable!) that I have been alternately pregnant and nursing, my hair has, in some moments, achieved levels of lunacy! At times I fear it will become sentient and launch a presidential bid. It would, of course, never stand a chance against Trump’s hair, but lately it has been bold enough to try.

It is summer here in St.Louis and the temperatures and humidity are high, my hair is thick and my patience is wearing thin. Do I grow it out so that I can wear it up and off my neck, or do I cut it short and have to carve out pieces of both budget and time to keep it that way? I’ll probably just wait it out until my hair,with the rest of me, can recover from the hormone hurdles and we can all get acquainted with our mild-mannered alter egos again.

In the meantime,  if my hair shows up at your door with lawn signs and campaign buttons, just throw some conditioner on it until it is subdued and give me a call.