Sunday, January 25, 2009

Motherly Advice

I attended a baby shower this weekend for a sweet friend of mine. She is expecting her first child - a baby girl! As you can imagine, shower festivities were aplenty. The "candy bar in the diaper" game, the "don't cross your legs" game, the "baby in the ice cube" game, bring a book for the baby's library, and fill out a card to share advice for the mom-to-be. All these things I greatly love. However, there was a problem with the day...

Anyone who knows me well, knows that I second guess all that I say and do at public gatherings. Ten minutes after arriving home I begin "the replay". "The replay" is like a movie in my mind, where I see all my interactions and all my words and I feel absolutely dumb for all that has transpired.

On this occasion, the replay revealed the stupidity of my advice given to her on one of the decorative cards, that I'm sure will become a part of some baby scrapbook. In my defense the pens were not working correctly and I think it threw off my game a bit. I tried five different pens, all of which refused to write my words - that should have been my sign. No, I dug a little more, tried a pencil without any luck. At last my persistence paid off, or so I thought, and I found a Bic to relay my message containing the sage wisdom of my mothering. The writing looked like that of an eight year old, because at that point I had traced my friend's name several times. Not really the problem, but it is vivid in my mind's eye so I thought I'd make mention. I can't remember all of the note but here's the gist:
"My advice for this special time is: to laugh. When the baby is crying, your step-son has broken your favorite something or other, and someone's dog has pooped on your floor realize the situation for the ridiculousness that it is - and laugh." It didn't start off too bad, but right now as I type those words I cringe as a wave of embarrassment hits. She has no dogs! The only relief I have right now is that "ridiculousness" did not appear with a red line underneath it, I woke last night doubting its legitimacy, thinking it might not really have been a word. But let's get back to the dog pooping thing - what the heck? Everyone else is sweet, "get sleep when you can", "let her get dirty", "let me babysit for you" and here I am telling her to laugh when someone's, not her own, but someone's dog poops in her house. Why didn't I say burn dinner or your doorbell rings with unexpected company? No, I picked stray dog feces! I think I revealed a little TMI into my own life. And do I laugh when my dog craps on my floor? Heck no! I spank the dog, threaten to kill the dog, and then I tell the kids I'm getting rid of the little rat-dog and make them all cry; I follow it all up with locking the dog outside or in her bed for the rest of the day. One big jocular moment in time - yeah right.

Maybe my advice should have been, "When you become a mom, lack of sleep wreaks havoc on the mind, and you will write and say stupid things so think really hard before you open your mouth or write your thoughts. Give yourself time to think things through, lest you allow people to peek into the not-so-pretty-window of you life."

That's what I've done the 24 hours since her shower, I've thought about all I could have said and what I should have written. If I had it to do over, it would have said this:

"Dear Kristina,
My advice to you during this special time is: to realize what an honor has been bestowed upon you, treasure it.
Sleep when you can, if you can.
Know that it all passes too quickly, except for the stage where they wake up during the night, several times a night - that seems to last a lifetime.
Ask for help when you need it and put pride behind you.
Surround yourself with friends made up of moms that you respect. Take their advice - but not always, at times you have to make your own path.
Realize that all mothers feel like they have miserably failed at their job at one time or another. (The mothers who don't - most likely have royally screwed their kids, they will figure it out in 15 years and it won't be pretty - don't hang out with them.) Take heart, children extend grace to us more often then we deserve and are generous with their love.
Love your little one enough to discipline - no one likes to hang out with other couples whose kids are brats.
Remember the fun that brought you this precious gift - set time aside for you and your man.
There will be days in the beginning when personal hygiene will become a luxury, buy some nice perfume and a hat - it will cover a multitude of sins.
Etch into your mind those adorable moments when you smile at your little one so much that your face actually begins to hurt.
Laugh out loud everyday.
Dream big for her, but don't forget your own.
Pray for discernment, for guidance, for protection, giving thanks always to the Lord.
Your world is about to be rocked - but don't fear it will be the best thing you have ever experienced. Congratulations!
With Love, Erica"

My P.S. would most likely remain the same, "If all else fails, keep a bottle of vodka in the cupboard above the fridge...," you'll need it if you ever get your little one a pet.


Tonya said...

Wow, I do so hope you pass that on to her as an "after the shower advice thingy". :-) I do the replay so often too. But usually it's when I wanted to say something but didn't for fear of creating conflict (disagreement). Then I spend hours and hours thinking of what I could have said, should have said, if only I had the nerve.

By the way, your words made me want to cry. So very very true! Why do we not tell people the truth before they have kids? It's wonderful. It's horrible. It's the best thing you'll ever do and the hardest thing you'll ever do. You will have days you wonder why you became a mom in the first place, but you know you will never ever walk away because you love the stinking kids too much! :-)

Sarah said...

The card you wrote and the card you wish you wrote - both were great!

I think she'll understand the sentiment behind the card. :)

patrick said...

This post is becoming legendary Ms. Erica. Picture if you will myself in the kitchen making dinner. Kerin is on the phone commiserating with Krisitina about this post on your blog. She goes on to discuss about how you and her alike do the 20/20 hindsight thing about what you may have said after you leave a social event. Especially when the circle of people attending said event are not part of the inner posse (for lack of a better term). She then goes on to read this very eloquent and beautiful post on motherly advice (through a constant stream of tears mind you). I even got a little choked up but I I told her it was those darned onions I was chopping up. Okay...full disclosure...It wasn't any onions, it was your words. They really did strike a chord in me as if they were Stevie Ray Vaughn! I know your post is titled "Motherly Advice" but when I went back and re-read it I simply supplanted the word "Motherly" with "Parental" and it worked for me. Also your word usage is also most impressive. Without having to resort to high falutin flowery exposition you are able to convey what you feel most aptly. Take it from someone who has had not one, but two letters published in Highlights Magazine! So yeah, I know what I am talking about. Thanks for sharing your thoughts once again Erica! Great job and I appreciate each and every syllable and I can guarantee that all the Beauregards do too!

Karin @ 6ByHisDesign said...

well, evidently Patrick said it best. But, my dear mom of a multitude, I laughed so hard that I almost peed in my chair...which is about as bad as some unknown person's dog pooping on your floor. Who let the stray in, anyway??

You are a great friend. And now your sweet mama-to-be friend will have this honest post to recall when she reads the funny words in her pristine scrapbook. Because few things in mommihood are truly pristine. But this post is.

Robin K. said...

Erica - So "Motherly Advice" was the first blog of yours that I ever read and first of all you hit the nail on the head on so many different points...Why when we have great advice we end up saying such odd things (I do that often), why do we look back and realize "Oh, that's what I should have said or done" but the revised version of the card narrative says all that us mothers have in our heart but fumble for the words when we want to verbalize them.

I'll be reading future blogs and if I ever find time go through past blogs...

Karin @ 6ByHisDesign said...'ve been 'gone' longer than I have...hope you are doing OK...


Tonya said...

Miss you! Blog some more so we can see what you're up too! :-)

Sarah said...

Thanks for stopping by my blot - yes the belly touchers definitely rub me the wrong way!