I'm an LA-based writer who, after years of covering sex tips and diet tricks for magazines and the web, has recently discovered a new hard-hitting topic: Mommyhood! With two identical twin baby boys to raise (pause for audible gasp), I'm sleepless and brainless, but wow, am I in love. And like any smitten girl, I can't seem to shut up about these little guys, totally caught up in the highs and lows (cause yes, there are lows) of being a new Mommy.
All right, I'm just going to say this: The vast majority of Dads don't do nearly as much as the Moms do when it comes to child-rearing. Sure, they're devoted and loving and all of that, they take their kids to baseball games and out for ice cream and roughhouse with them on the floor. But when it comes to the day-to-the-day, I'd say that for the most part, it falls squarely on Mom's shoulders, whether you're a working Mom or stay-at-home. (Of course, stay-at-home Dads are rock stars when it comes to parenting, so they're not included in this discussion.)
You could blame it on women's natural impulse to nurture, and men's natural impulse to provide. But I call bullshit on all of that. I think the reasons why Dads don't often pull as much of the parenting weight is because we let them off the hook too easily. And then we resent them for not doing enough.
Last week, there was a small earthquake here in L.A., just a mile or so from our house. Because it was so close, the house definitely rattled-and-rolled pretty intensely. My husband had never been in a quake, so he threw his arms around me, instinctively, protectively. Me? I pushed his arm off and ran to get my babies. Thankfully, it was a short quake and when I got to their room, the boys were still sleeping soundly. My heart was racing, but my mind was clear and I was calm -- my first priority, my gut-place instinct was to make sure my babies were safe and keep them safe.
As I walked back to our bedroom, I was struck by, "Whoa, I really am a Mom." I know, I sound a little stupid. I mean, duh, yes, I'm a Mom who loves and nurtures and panics and swells with pride over my little ones. But this was a pure heart, all love, Mama Bear reaction. It got me thinking about the other moments that really make me feel like a Mom. And here's what I've come up with...
When friends come over, I've always felt the need to apologize for the dog hair all over our house and on our furniture, for the black hairs that have collected on the front of my boys' T-shirts, and the stray hairs often found on their lips and faces. But, no more! Now, I can confidently say with pride, "It's for the kids!" A recent study found that children who live with a dog (or cat) for the first year of their lives tend to get sick a whole lot less.
Well, phew, because every time I find one of my twin babies sucking on a dog toy, I need some reassurance that I'm not the worst, stankiest Mother of all time. Now that I know it's healthy, hell, I'm going to let them play in our Lab's dog bowl, snuggle in her dog bed, share her chew toys. I kid, I kid. Obviously, I don't want my boys all up in her mess, but I do feel a lot better knowing that it's actually good for babies. But, just seeing my sons interact with our sweet Ruby, I can already tell it's good for them.
The best toy ever!Recently, I was looking around at the hurricane of stuff my 11-month-old babies had scattered all over our den, and thought to myself, without a hint of irony, "Maybe they need more toys." Hear me out: They have links and books and balls that rattle, but I wondered if maybe they should have more stimulating, animated toys. They're at the age now where they're pulling levers and opening lids to elicit that high-pitched, battery-operated, "tee-hee" sound or carnival-style music. They'll push that big orange button like ten thousand times, bopping every time the creepy elf-like songs start. So are those blocks boring, old news to them now?
As it turns out, no, not at all. In a recent study, researchers determined that infants seek out information on their own, without the need for fancy toys or "educational" tools. If you give a baby an interesting environment to explore, they'll learn from that more than any toy.
So now that it's summertime, I've been taking my little fair-haired babies to the park, to the pool and to outdoor dining spots. Of course, I'm vigilant with the sunscreen, shielding their precious baby skin from the dangerous UV rays. But unfortunately, somewhere between all that slathering and umbrella-tilting and wrestling to get their fishermen's hats on, Iforgot to put sunscreen on my own skin. Then, I forgot again...and again...and again...and ended up with a pretty vicious burn, the likes of which I haven't seen since Spring Break '96.
Yes, I know, it's incredibly stupid, especially since my mother has had to have cancerous cells removed from her freckly skin. But at least my babies didn't get burnt, right? Right? Wrong. As my husband pointed out when he saw my raw, red shoulders, when you're a Mom, it's even more important to take care of yourself. And no, being too busy protecting your baby is still no excuse.