Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Mom School

In the beginning you kinda know what to do with your child. You hold him as much as you can, feed him breast milk or formula on a regular schedule and just pretty much pay him kisses in exchange for deep whiffs of baby scalp. Knowledge gaps, what there are, are quickly and easily filled in by the pediatrician and Google.

Then, if you've done your job right up to now, he starts to grow up and develop. Things become a little more complex. You'll need to start adding foods slowly into a rotation. You'll need to develop a nap schedule and maybe add a few toys to the baby gym. Tummy time seems pretty important. Everyone's always talking about tummy time.

OK, so you've paid close attention, you've hit all the right markers and suddenly your child is a year old. He is standing, maybe walking. He has several teeth that he will not let you see well enough to count because you are no longer the boss of him. He is the boss of him and keep your goddamn fingers outta his mouth, thanks. And the food thing. Whatev. I'm done talking about the food thing except to say that he WILL NOT FUCKING EAT FOOD. Ahem.

So. As each day passes, and Smallsie Bigs becomes a more autonomous person, it dawns on me gradually that I have no idea what the hell I'm doing. Rather than feeling like I'm improving with experience, it feels like the job is becoming more complex at an exponential rate--a rate with which I can't keep up. I feel exactly like I did in the days before his birth: like I was approaching the drop on a very big roller coaster and realizing that I have no seat belt or lap bar. I could hold on very tight and maybe survive, but it wasn't likely.

But my question is this: how come other moms seem to know what they're doing? There's this amazing woman--a woman whose altruism and generosity of time and spirit boggle my mind--who will answer your parenting questions. She's not a doctor or child psychologist. She's just a well-informed, well-reasoned, thoughtful and measured mom of two who knows the answers. I wrote her my food plea and she responded the next day with exactly the advice that I needed to hear and that, after just one day, seems to be working (knock wood). Then 19 other smart and charitable women chimed in to share their knowledge and ideas and experience.

That's a total of 20 women on one website in one day who know what the hell they're doing. What is the difference between them and me? I know it's not time spent mulling, because I am the Time-Spent-Mulling Champeen. Is it just a matter of experience? Will the game eventually stop changing long enough for me to figure out the rules? Will I, in due course, catch up?

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