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November 07, 2003



I got married at 31 and had my daughter at 34. I was totally ready to be a hands on mom. My own mother worked full time until she got pregnant with my sister when I was 11. She didn't go to many school things. As my sister got older I had to attend HER functions instead of my mother. She felt she was too old to have a young child. (She got pregnant with my sister when she was 37).
My mom was and is a loving mother who does everything she can for us and she is an awesome grandmother to my child.
I enjoy volunteering at my daughter's school,staying at dancing school and watching her through the one way glass,teaching her to bake,practicing her writing skills,reading with her, having a "girls day out" as often as possible and snuggling with her a million times a day. I pack funny notes in her lunch box every day. We dance and sing and listen to the same song 50 times in a row if we love it.I rotate the pictures she brings home from school so that everything gets displayed at some point.She tells me that I am the best mother in the world. That tells me that I am doing a good job.


As Julie and I were discussing, my parenting style is a direct result of the way I was raised --- and not wanting to raise Emma in the same manner. Which isn't to say my mom didn't do some good things. When Em and I dance around the den to Simon and Garfunkel's "Me and Julio," I remember the hours Mom and I spent sitting next to the record player, holding Bruce Springsteen's "Blinded by the Light" lyrics in our hands, trying frantically to keep up with the Boss's tongue twisters.

The biggest thing for me is for Emma to always know she comes first. She comes before me, before Adam, before work and family and friends. And the host of things Mom put before me aren't even in the picture.


My parenting style came from my fear of being a failure and the unrealistic idealism I expected when my first child was born. I knew I didn't want to be the control freak my Mom was (I love you deeply and forever Mom but you know it's true). I had a new friend also a new mother who introduced me to the foreign concept of attachment parenting. Some of that worked for me, but I got lost in trying to be like her and for a few years, I lost sight of who I am. I loved the book Whole Child, Whole Parent by Polly Berrien Berends and used it as my bible for a long time. In between children, Anne Lamott wrote the book Operating Instructions and this time around that's been my bible. What a brilliant book! I've finally almost learned to let myself be the kind of parent I need to be in each moment. I'm not putting so much pressure on myself to be someone or something I am not capable of being, yet I'm striving to grow and improve all the time.


I suppose reading books (particularly "Our Babies, Ourselves: How Biology and Culture Shape the Way We Parent") and thinking about it has affected my choices the most thus far. I think my mom was a wonderful parent--loving, nonjudgemental, supportive and still believes I am the smartest person in the world--but her style with babies doesn't work for me. She raised me on the bottle, on the clock and thinks you can spoil an infant. Whereas I have Isaac sleeping in our bed, I feed him on-demand from the breast and I cuddle him on demand, too. I'm sure my mom's basic tenets will become a lot more important as Isaac grows, though, since I also still believe she's the best mom in the world. (And hopefully, my mom and I will never be disabused of our childish ideas.)

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