Pip modeling a discovery from the hand-me-down bag a few weeks ago.
Can I just say how much I love hand-me-downs? As first an eldest child and then a strange size, I haven’t received a whole lot of them in my life, until, that is, Pip came along.
He is inundated regularly. His toys are mostly hand-me-downs, as are his Bumbo, Boppy, nursing cover, half his diapers, and nearly all his clothes.
They come in grocery bags and trash bags from mamas with boys just a little older. I sort them and put them away in bins labeled by size, and when he’s done with them, I sort them again and put some away in bins for his future siblings, then bag up the rest to send on down the line to other new parents.
And there’s something about it that just breathes community to me. Our little family is loved, and part of a community of other, more experienced parents. They’re there for advice and reassurance and commiseration, and these bags of clothes are quiet testimonies that these difficult, wonderful moments are fleeting.
In the hospital, I gingerly shoved Pip’s little delicate potato-stick fingers into a newborn kimono shirt that my godson, born giant, never wore. It had a jungle print that I stared at for what felt like hours in the middle of the night as I cajoled my sleepy newborn to eat, to gain weight and grow strong. A few endless, breathless weeks later, I packed it away, and now to look at it is to marvel at its comical tininess. Someday, I’ll send it along to another mama, or break it out for a new child of mine.
It’s just the best kind of magic.
I thought it would be worth sharing what an average day looks like for me currently, as I really don’t know how days play out for other stay-at-home-parents, and certainly wasn’t prepared for the experience when I started out.
Now that Pip is six months old, I have comparative freedom, with almost guaranteed two naps (though often both are only 30 minutes each), and the ability, occasionally, to have the use of my arms when he’s awake. I am still figuring out how to juggle it all, but I think I’m making progress.
None of it was ideal. None of it was how I planned it, but I realized that sometimes what’s right for your family, what makes you the best mother you can be, isn’t a rigid adherence to a certain method of parenting, it’s simply doing your best for your unique baby in your current situation. —
Haley of Carrots for Michaelmas, “How I Almost Became the Smug Mom”
Let’s all repeat this over and over to ourselves, OK? I’ve been lucky to receive very little (obvious, explicit) mom-hate, and I’ve tried so hard not to be disapproving of what other people find works. It’s a lesson in compassion, for sure.
I hate, hate, HATE when people ask if Pippin’s a good baby, and by that they mean a good sleeper.
He is the best baby, and we are working on helping him to be a good sleeper, and any shortcomings on that front are almost certainly ours.
It’s a little like owning a dog. If you have a bad dog, it’s almost certainly a failure on your part in how you treat and teach the dog.
My baby is becoming a good sleeper, just about as fast as I am becoming a competent parent.
We live in an articulate society, continually questioning ourselves and each other. It is not fair to leave a new mother with a horrific collection of words to condemn her—and almost nothing in the way of praise for when she is doing something well. A whole vocabulary is missing to balance all the negative words and phrases. —
Naomi Stadlen, What Mothers Do: Especially When It Looks Like Nothing
I’m going to quote your ear off from this one in the next few days, guys.
I kept going. Slogging it out. Showing up. Standing, sitting, kneeling. Thinking about anything else. But there came a point, I’m not sure exactly when, when I was no longer slogging or just showing up. I began to desire it. Not because it felt familiar, like home. That was certainly part of it, but it wasn’t the whole story. The Mass was steady and unchanging and familiar, but at some point I decided that it was also true. And I think, now, that it was precisely because the Mass didn’t depend on me to feel anything at all. —
Love & Salt: A Spiritual Friendship Shared in Letters, Jessica Griffith Mesman and Amy Andrews
(a book I loved, and highlighted way too much, recommended to me by my always wonderful undergrad advisor, Anya Silver)
I feel like these last months, or year maybe, I’ve been getting to know my mom in such a different way as I learn to mother by her example. I’ve woken belatedly from some teenagery trance to want her stories, to go deeper, to understand what it was like being her as she went about the business of raising me and my sister.
She’s a wonderful mother, and shaping up to be a terrific grandmother, and as I muddle along at this mothering thing myself, I am just floored to realize the love and sacrifice she gave me — so often without me even noticing.
Humbling and inspiring both.
Happy Mother’s Day to Pip’s Mumsey.