5 things I love about being a single mom of an 8 month old.

1. Getting to understand true permanence for the first time in my life. I’m someone’s mother. For life.

2. Meeting other single and partnered parents – people with such interesting life stories who I never would have met had I not had my baby.

3. Gaining clarity on what a true friend is. Learning how to spot those people – and how to be one.

4. Sleeping. I’m finally beginning to feel caught up on sleep for the first time since my baby was born.

5. Kissing my baby’s chubby little cheeks 30 times in a row. I won’t be able to do that forever so I’m getting it all in while I can.

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I’ll never be on time again.

It’s so hard to be on time with a baby! Sometimes it works out perfectly: baby is awake, clean, fed and ready to go when you need to head out the door. But most times, he is either taking the longest, deepest nap of his life at a random time or just had a major diaper blow-out on the way out the door or starts screaming for food when you are halfway to where you need to go. It’s really frustrating. When I’m meeting someone who has kids – they usually understand. But if they don’t have kids there is just no comprehending. How do I know? Before I had a baby I did not get it. At. All.

I hereby apologize for all those times I thought mom friends were being passive aggressive, acting self important, making up stories or were just plain inconsiderate. I’m sorry. I now know that you probably had to change baby’s clothes and yours because of a poop explosion, have leaking boobs and probably tried on ten pairs of pants before finding some that fit without cutting off blood circulation. I now know the particular pain of all of those things. Plus the acute desire to never wake your baby when he’s sleeping. BECAUSE HE’S FINALLY SLEEPING!!!!!!

I wish I had some tips for being on time with a baby but when it works for me – it’s just luck. Maybe if your baby has a strong schedule? Or if you have a nanny or partner to hand the baby off to? Any other ideas?

A Family Story.

A couple of weeks ago I went to a workshop about how to tell your child his or her origin story. It was geared toward parents who had used sperm or egg donors – but I thought it was really helpful no matter what the particular origin story is. Here are some tips I learned:

Tell the origin story as part of the bedtime ritual. Every night. From birth or even before the baby is born. That way they never have a feeling of being deceived – they know their story as long as they remember. And they don’t have a memory of a time where you sat them down and told them a heavy story.

Kids will pick up if you are uncomfortable or awkward with the story. You may want to “clear it out” with a friend or a therapist first. The information about our children’s beginnings isn’t hard. It’s our baggage around it that’s hard.

Give the story a name so your child knows what to ask for when he/she is able to talk. “Sadie’s Super-duper Baby Story!” or “The Magical Mystical Story of How Jose Was Born” are just a couple of examples. 😉 Heck, go all out and even make up a baby sign for the story.

When your baby is old enough – he or she can tell you the story. Won’t that be a fun day? And they can also share the story with others. When kids explain things it is usually pretty disarming and often comic, right? For example a small child asking you if you have a penis or a vagina. Or asking another kid if she came out of her mother’s vagina. Awesome.

Another advantage of telling your baby the origin story early and often? A baby is a captive and non-judgmental audience for you to practice on and get it just right. Practice makes perfect. You can tell the baby your origin story too. Yet another advantage? You can handle the birds and the bees talk at the same time! Done!

Your child needs to hear his origin story from you because he is going to ask someone and that someone might not know as much or be as positive about it as you. So tell him before he asks so you don’t risk passing that moment on to someone less skilled than you. The way you talk about it conveys so much. “There are people who make you and people who take care of you. I love you and take care of you so that’s who is in our family.”

Age appropriate answers. Kids sometimes ask a lot of questions. Remember you answer only has to be age appropriate. For a three year old: two seeds started the baby growing, and then so many others helped the baby keep growing – even now. Don’t get stuck on explaining biology in detail. For example, if a four year old asks: “how did the sperm get out of the penis?” You can say: “through the pee-hole.” That’s really all they want to know at that age.

There is a difference between private and secret. Other people in your life and (even strangers in the grocery store) will be curious, too. For one, people want to connect with you. For another, even adults are fascinated with how babies are made. When you answer, you can be discrete without making it feel like a dark secret. It’s ok if your story is private – just be careful about creating an air of secret around it – that can make the child feel like there is something wrong with it. If you want you can deflect questions and enlighten at the same time. You can say something like: “Identity is so complex isn’t it?” Or “maybe that’s a private question.” Or “It’s powerful to be different.” Or you can tell them the whole story! Up to you.

As your child gets older, If you are concerned about how your child’s teacher/school handles discussions about different types of families (two moms, two dads, one mom, one dad, a grandparent, foster parents, mixed heritage, etc) – start by asking how they typically talk about these things. Then ask if you can help and/or bring in resources (like kids books about different types of families).

You can show your gratitude for your child’s origin story – no matter what it was. It gave you your child and your child got you. “I found out I was pregnant with you and I danced around and jumped for joy! And you were born and I danced around and jumped for joy! And you turned one and I danced around and jumped for joy!” How do you explain to a baby he or she was a surprise? “I knew I was going to have you someday but I just didn’t know when. You came at the perfect time.”

A promising thought: polls of kids raised by single moms show that single motherhood had a positive impact on them because of witnessing how hard the moms worked to take care of them and how closely bonded they are. Kids also tend to say: my parent(s) are my parent(s) and it was never confusing to me.

Have any other ideas, tips, stories? Please share them in the comments.

A book about a single mom by a single mom!!!

Grete DeAngelo’s book Giving Myself Away is out! Congrats Grete! The main character is a single, pregnant woman. To me, it felt like an unusual experience to be in that situation and I’m looking forward to reading about how someone else might have handled it all.

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It’s in hardcopy and Kindle versions. 

Ideas: links to look at.

Some interesting ideas from the parent of a child in public school. I’m planning on public school for my baby but I have to admit I was looking to the higher performing ones. This parent makes some good points.

Baby signs cheat-sheet! I may have posted this before. I posting it again because I keep forgetting to actually do the signs with baby. Printing it to put on the fridge this time. 😉

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Did you know you need a prescription to buy a mattress that hasn’t been treated with flame retardants and other potentially harmful man-made chemicals? Interesting. Just learned this today while looking for a mattress for my baby. Want an easy read to help you learn more about toxic chemicals in our everyday lives? I highly recommend this book.

Tumbleweed Tiny House Company. Kind of makes you want to find some land and start a commune right? Oh just me? Ok.

This article really happened. “Fresh air is best cure for asthma.” Oh reaallllllly???! You don’t say. Now, about that commune…

A really interesting list of ideas for getting baby to sleep through the night. Some are pretty intuitive to me and some are things I would not have thought of. Very helpful. The author is super nice, too. I emailed her about 5,000 questions about baby beds and she got right back to me. Lovely!

And other people besides new moms need you to bring them a meal. A great reminder.

And just because…

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My So-Called Blog.

Well. I haven’t been around here in a while. I was expecting the site to be broken or something. Or at least some cartoon tumbleweeds blowing across the page. That would be cute. Someone should figure out how to do that. I’ve been away dealing with things like a really dumb project at work, a really exciting business idea, a little tiny baby having asthma attacks, working on building a community in real life (the community here is already awesome, thanks guys), and doing 5.2 million dishes.

I did also go to a workshop about how/why to tell your child his/her origin story right from the start. It was a lot to think about but very encouraging and inspiring. Planning to share what I learned very soon. Right now I’m going to finish my tea and go to sleep since I just finished doing 58 hundred million dishes and I’m just so tired lately. Though I think it’s only partly the dishes and mostly that my perfect, angelic baby who started sleeping through the whole entire night at less than 3 months old has decided not to sleep through the night lately. I love my baby but I do not love nighttime parenting. Wish me luck.

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