“Seven Hungry Babies” by Candace Fleming or The Price of Being a Super Mom

Food is a major part of lives, indeed. In some cultures, it is even bigger than one would wish. Generally, the bigger the family, the more time we spend in the kitchen. I grew up with three hungry brothers, so my mom kept grocery shopping, cooking and baking around the clock. But this is what moms (or certain dads) do. They do whatever it takes to feed their children.

Look at this mama bird. She was blessed with seven birdies. They looked cute and peaceful when asleep, but sure they knew how to make enough noise when awake and hungry. And what would mama bird do? She would leave the nest in search of some tasty snack: a fish, a worm, a berry… Things would be easier if she could feed her children all at once, but of course the little guys had their own agenda and chose to wake up one by one. Finally, all the little bellies were filled and mama got a chance to rest. Well, not exactly. By the time the last birdie was asleep, the first one was a awake again. Don’t you know it first hand? You might wonder what  the clever mama bird did.  Of course, she woke up papa bird. After all, “it was daddy’s turn to fly.”

Whether mama’s bird decision was a conscious choice or guided by exhaustion, my point is, we should never forget that it takes two not only to tango. If you ever had a dream of being  a Super Mom or Super Dad and do everything around your children, just do yourself a favor and forget about it. Being a Super Parent is over-rated. It simply doesn’t make sense.  Seriously, once you have children, there is enough chores for both of you, and the grandparents if you (and they) wish. An exhausted parent is like a bomb ready to explode any time: dangerous to everybody around, especially children ( ask ER doctors) and spouses ( ask couple therapists).  I  learned it the hard way with our older son.  At first, my husband enjoyed the fact that he could change the channels, while I changed the diapers. He quickly changed his mind, though, after I basically migrated to our son’s room, moved from the passenger seat to the back seat and transformed from a chirpy wifey to a grumpy zombie. Now, I still let my husband sleep in on a Saturday morning, but on a Saturday afternoon, I easily send him off to the park with our sons, while I go to see Ziggy. My hairdresser.

Back to the book. “Seven Hungry babies” is a frolic read-aloud picture story, filled with amusing onomatopoeic expressions and catchy repetitions. It is  brightly illustrated by Eugene Yelchin.  A fun read for younger and older preschoolers.

2+1 or 2+2 or 2+3…?

I’ve said many times that the first child is for the parents and the second child is for the first child. But that was before I had my own second baby. Now, I think  my theory was only partially true. The reality is that both,  children AND parents, benefit from being a part of a bigger family. Of course, on a daily basis we just might be too tired to notice the advantages of having multiple offsprings. But they are there,  hiding under those chunky car seats in the back of our cars, or behind those never-enough gallons of milk in the fridge.   I’m speaking from a very short experience as a parent, but I do have three younger brothers, and this is what comes to my mind in defense of families bigger than 2+1:

Benefits for the parents:

1. Having more than one child broadens our parenting experience. No two children are alike and there are no templates applicable to every child. Having more children gives us an opportunity to closely observe the uniqueness of our little ones.

2. Having more than one child helps us to create a healthy balance in the relationship with children. With one child, it is easy to fall in a trap of doing things that one little bit too much: worrying too much, helping too much, controlling too much… Having more children naturally creates a balanced relationship with children, which results in less stressed parents and  more independent children.

3. Having more children helps us to give up the nonsense. If one child can keep us pretty busy then two or more children can make us exhausted. We work around the clock, sleep next to nothing. We are our children’s drivers, cooks, maids and have to remember about everyone’s lunch boxes and dentist’s appointments. Not to mention the never-ending piles laundry and the always-missing-something  shopping lists. To be an engaged parent of two or more can be a sanity test. One doesn’t have time or energy for redundancies, like obsessive cleaning, ironing bed sheets and underwear, reading gossip magazines or writing thank you notes in response to thank you cards.

4. Having more children makes us more sensible and practical shoppers. Who needs all this stuff in the store anyway?! When I think about all the things we bought and never used with our first son, it is a ridiculously long list. As opposed to those  few things we really needed. I am so much wiser the second time around.  I am fully embracing the art of minimalism.

5. Having more children gives us a chance to do all those things we wanted but somehow never did with our first children. Whether it is writing a baby journal or doing baby yoga, the more kids we have the more chances there are that we’ll execute our plans. Eventually.

Benefits for the children:

1. Having a sibling means having a companion, friend, roommate,  tennis partner, you name it. Some children bond immediately, for some it takes years to appreciate each other’s existence. What matters is that one day they will find each other.

2. Having a sibling naturally teaches children sharing, taking turns, waiting and other useful life skills. Of course a lot depends how parents play the cards. I noticed for example that my super impatient preschooler who always wanted to have things done “now” is more understanding since the arrival of his brother. He sees that I am busy feeding or changing the baby and lets me finish my job before attending to his needs. On the other hand, I sometimes let the baby cry for a minute longer so I can finish reading a book with my older son. They both need to see they are equally important to me.

3. Having a sibling lessens the responsibility for the parents later in life. I’ve noticed that grown-ups who are only children often have an elevated sense of commitment to their parents. They want to live close enough or come visit often, in case the parents get sick. They are under a pressure to get married and have children, so that their parents could finally become grandparents. They generally are more anxious to please their parents, not themselves. Having a sibling means sharing the stress of being a child- however crazy it sounds.

“Another Brother” by Matthew Cordell

There might be many ways babies reach their Boss status, or run their office. But there are only two ways their rule ends. Either they spontaneously “retire” , or they are ousted from their CEO chair by a younger sibling, who can’t wait to be the new Big Boss.

This is what happened to a certain Davy. He was the apple in the eye of his parents for four years, until his fate  got changed with the arrival of a little brother, Petey. Davy’s parents no longer had time to enjoy Davy’s ba-ba-ballads, because Petey needed to poop or there was another emergency. The situation got only worse due to Mikey, Ben, Gil and rest of his twelve brothers. Not only did they steal their parents’ attention, but also copied Davy’s every move. Mom and dad would say it was just a phase, and Davy couldn’t wait for it to end. But when it did finally end, something was missing… Luckily, there came Gertie!

An ultra-humorous story and cartoons. A  hilarious take on a growing family and the adjustments that need to be made by the first-born. He or she might think that their world comes to an end with a new child  in the picture. But sooner or later, everybody finds out for themselves the perks of brotherhood or sisterhood.

And now you know what my next post will be about.  Another brother or sister?

 

 

“The Boss Baby” by Maria Frazee

In my last post I reflected upon the good things that come with children. I shared my findings with my husband, and apparently the only arguments he could really relate to was the one about creation and those  I added “on a lighter note”. His comment made me think. Either there is a discrepancy between perks of motherhood and fatherhood, or maybe it was simply presumptive to generalize parental feelings at all? Whatever it is, I hope that we can at least all agree that our lives change dramatically when we welcome a baby to our families.

From the very moment he enters the house, he is the Big Boss. He runs his business from the office conveniently located in the middle of the room. He works 24/7 and calls frequent meetings, even in the middle of the night. He is very demanding and hard to please, but his loyal employees try their best to address his whimsical requests.  It’s especially hard, as he doesn’t even say a word. Things get a bit easier when he finally starts to communicate, but just for a short while. Before long, he is back to running his business..

Utterly hilarious, especially when you read the story and look at the clever pictures. So well observed and so true! A great read for every parent. (The Big Boss can’t read yet…) The book might not make their work for the Big Boss easier, but it will provide lots of healthy and energizing laughs.

I hope my Big Boss won’t call too many meetings tonight… It’s weekend after all, isn’t it?

Perks of Parenthood

Have you seen that episode of “The Big Bang Theory” where Sheldon decided to give a gift to humanity and have a lab-made baby (as you would expect from a germophobe and scientist) with Amy? In his mind, combining DNA of two brilliant human beings could give birth to nothing less than an ultra-genius, that we, the average people, should appreciate. How generous of Sheldon, isn’t it? On the other hand, I know a couple of bright and successful real people. Although they have a daughter, their reasoning to have a child must have been different from Sheldon’s. In their opinion, them having a child did nothing good to the world at all.

I have to admit that I’ve supported both ways of thinking. At first, I viewed having a child quite selfish. I thought it would make me focus on my family and limit my time and energy that could be used for helping others. Then, convinced by my husband, I started to believe that the two of us, could and should  have a baby that would grow into a valuable human being. By the time I had my first son, none of these reasonings were valid. We had a child because were ready to be parents: to give life to a new person and to watch our child grow. There was nothing altruistic about it indeed, just writing my personal story. However, to my surprise, this apparent selfishness did result in the greater goodness after all. These are some of the conclusions I came to:

1. Becoming a parent unlocks feelings impossible to explain unless experienced. This new wave of emotions helps to see yourself from a different perspective. It also helps you to understand better other parents, including your own. The better understanding of other people opens door to better relationships and opens eyes on other people’s dilemmas and challenges.

2. Becoming a parent makes you genuinely happy. Don’t ask me how, it’s one of the wonders of parenthood. However silly it sounds, becoming a parent gives you wings to fly beyond poopy diapers and brings you to a state of bliss, where big issues shrink, burps become beautiful and four hours of sleep is all you need. Also, happiness becomes a huge driving force that makes you move the mountains, which in practice means doing several things at a time.

3. Becoming a parent makes you win over your fears and insecurities. My aunt once told me that once you have a child, you never stop worrying and the worries grow with your child. Isn’t she a wise woman indeed. But, on the good note, worrying about your child makes you stop worrying about yourself. Suddenly, you become stronger, fearless, basically a super hero.

4. Becoming a parent makes you responsible. Before you know it, you start obeying traffic rules, watch your language, control your temper. You realize that you are constantly watched by a little guy who just waits to copy your every move. And you do want to impress them in a positive way.

5. Becoming a parent gives you a huge privilege of participating in creation. You help to turn a helpless baby into an independent person. It’s the scariest and the most exciting mission in life.

Parenthood is inspirational. It helps you become a better person and discover skills and talents you never thought you had.

And on a lighter note,

Having children gives you a unique opportunity to once again play with your favorite toys, watch your favorite cartoons and read your favorite picture books without being judged or feeling guilty. You can also brush up your elementary school knowledge, shop in toy stores or visit Lego Land. The perks of parenthood are plenty!

So if  to have children or not to have children is still a question for you, or you need a reminder why you have children, I hope this post helps.

 

 

 

 

Kids are good for us! – 1bookperday in January

To have children or not to have children, that is the question. For some. For others it is luck, extensive planning, blessing or a financial opportunity. Take my parents, for example. Children “just happened” to them. All four of us. My parents-in-law, on the other hand, planned their three children and carefully scheduled the birth of their offsprings, to avoid double college tuitions. Another couple I know designed their family according to a desirable tax break, and many of my friends choose to have no children or one, as a bigger family would be incompatible with their career or a financial stand. People have many reasons to have or not to have children, and it’s not up to me to applaud or chastise them for their choices. The fact remains, though, that globally, we should have more children. At least in the western world, that has been shrinking dramatically over the last decades. If I worked for the government, I would mention your retirement plan. If I were an economist, I would warn you about decreasing markets. But as I am just a mom,  for me having children is not a political or economic matter. For me it is simple: kids are good for us. You might find it hard to believe at times, like after a week-long school break, or when you get a hospital bill, or when all your shirts are stained with milk and two cups of coffee can’t keep you awake (my personal story now), but those little nuisances can’t beat the rewards of being a parent.

I didn’t have much time during the past holidays to do things, but I did do some thinking on the topic,  as I struggled to get up at night to nurse the baby. Let me share my thoughts with you this month. A few happy thoughts for a Happy New Year!