That’s how I was for many years—a childless parenting expert. Everyone who knew about my Franklin calendar priority lists and my desperate need to keep my desk clean, must’ve secretly laughed when I announced I was having a baby. They probably thought,“She’ll never finish another to-do list again.” They were right.
Motherhood threw me off-balance. I tried to figure out my infant daughter’s schedule by writing every feeding and nap down. I needed some kind of predictability, but there wasn’t any clear pattern. As soon as I thought I’d figured her out, she’d change. My biggest fear was that we’d be out in public, she’d start bawling and everyone’s eyes would be on me. No one wants to hear a baby cry, I reasoned, and it was my job as her mother to make sure she didn’t disturb others.
Well, baby’s first Christmas arrived. Cry, cry, cry. Everybody tried rocking her—me, her dad, grandma, great-grandma , etc. I was mortified. She was ruining everyone’s holiday dinner. She wasn’t hungry, tired or lonely—just miserable. Nothing we did helped. Finally, we put her down in a quiet bedroom and gave up.
A little while later, we found out why she had been inconsolable. She’d eaten prunes for the first time and it upset her insides. One very messy diaper change later and my baby’s smile returned. (There should be a warning label on prune baby food containers!)
Seven years later, I still think about that family at Wal-Mart. Perhaps they’d run out of children’s Tylenol and one of the kids was sick. Or maybe they just hadn’t figured the whole parenting thing out quite yet. Either way, I try not to judge any more. I want to tell all of the new moms out there to stop worrying about what everybody else thinks. The ones who give you disapproving looks probably don’t know any better. The rest of us see your two year old having a meltdown and remember when we were in your shoes. How there’s no reasoning, no placating kids sometimes. Sometimes you just have to wait them out. And sometimes they just need to go poo.
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