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Grandma Knows Best: The Best Parenting Advice I Ever Received

When our daughter, Sophie, was 6 months old (and I was actively taking birth control pills) the last thing I expected to see in our home was a positive pregnancy test!  I mean, we wanted to have a third child, but having children 15 months apart was not exactly what we had in mind.  As my handsome husband is fond of saying, our third child was “planned, but not scheduled.”

I’m not ashamed to admit that I was a nervous wreck when I found out I was pregnant.  I mean, we own businesses!  We have lives!  I just bought cute new clothes! I needed some time to get my groove back a bit before going through the emotional, physical, psychological (wonderful, hectic, amazing…) roller coaster that is pregnancy.

But, there I was–pregnant without warning.  Okay. Good.  Breathe. Surely I’m not alone, right?  I mean, other women have had babies this close together, too. I needed to find one of those ladies and pick her brain.  Stat.

Then it dawned on me–my own grandmother, Naomi, had six children and a few of them were less than two years apart. She’s always been a huge inspiration to me and someone who has shaped my life ever since I can remember.  She would be the PERFECT person to talk to–I had found my mothering muse! Hallelujah.

At my cousin’s wedding the following week, our conversation went something like this:
ME:  “So, Grandmama…you had children really close together.  How did you make that work?  What did you do?”
GRANDMA:  “Well…” (pause)…(still pausing)…(one more pause, with an accompanying smirk) “You’ll manage.”
ME: (blank stare)

No sage advice?!  No candid stories of the trials and tribulations of raising my mother and her siblings? No words of wisdom worthy of embroidering on a throw pillow? I was a little deflated. Where was my pep talk?!

On January 8th, ready or not, we here at Casa Aaron joyously welcomed Maxwell August (see below).  Now, on top of keeping up with Sophie, the most wonderfully curious, energetic (read: high-maintenance) toddler on the planet, I would also be caring for a completely helpless newborn.  To call it intimidating would be a massive understatement!  Truthfully, I felt ill-prepared and more than a little uneasy.

Some days I don’t get a shower.  Sometimes I forget to eat lunch.  Some days I don’t leave the house.

On a positive note, I have learned to be ambidextrous–I’m getting pretty skilled at eating with my left hand while simultaneously breastfeeding Max and keeping Sophie’s lunch on her spoon and out of her hair.  I have mastered the art of the tandem diaper change.  I have figured out how to get both children from the car into Target and back out again in one piece (and with at least 1/3 of our shopping list tackled, thank you very much!).  I have discovered that I can still make gorgeous dinners for my family, as long as Sophie is in her highchair with a bowl of Goldfish crackers and Max is nestled snugly into the Ergo carrier on my chest.  I am able to get work done for both of our businesses if I use a Boppy pillow to help me support Max while I type with my right hand (and as long as Sophie doesn’t skip her nap). I function on less sleep than I ever thought possible.

I’m not going to lie–it’s hard.  Really hard.  But I wouldn’t trade it for anything.  Each day is a humbling lesson in patience and creative strategy.  And, though I didn’t get the instructional video-style talk I was expecting from my grandmother, she gave me some of the best advice she’s ever given me: “You’ll manage.”  It’s become a bit of a mantra for me; it’s my on-the-fly “Om”. Every time I feel overwhelmed, I remind myself with a certain amount of triumph, that I can, in fact, manage. I can figure it out.  I can deal.  Because these amazing little creatures, these tiny humans, are worth it.

I went in for my six-week postpartum checkup yesterday.  My doctor (who happens to have children a mere 10 months apart!) asked how everything was going, and, with my grandmother’s smirk and a half-beat pause, I calmly said, “I manage.”

 

Do you have children that are very close in age?  Or (gasp!) twins?! 

Share your story–when the day gets tough, how do you manage?

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One Response to Grandma Knows Best: The Best Parenting Advice I Ever Received

  1. Cate February 12, 2013 at 4:07 pm #

    My girls are a year apart and my boys are 20 months apart. I say it is chaos until they are out of diapers. But it is so so sweet. I love my girls so close together and watching them bond more every day. I hope it is the case for my boys too. You’re right. You manage and let a lot go. Go slow and have low expectations. 🙂

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