Because my mother died when I was three months pregnant, I don’t get to ask her questions about parenting. Hi, I’m Amy, and I think it’s important to start a personal essay on a really sunshiny note.
I’m a first time mom. I have an awesome sister who is a mother of two and an awesome mother-in-law who is a mother of three. They are, as previously stated, awesome, and very helpful with mommy questions. But I still wish I could ask my mom. What would my mother have to say about her parenting journey? What words of wisdom would she have passed down? What did Loretta think back in 1975?
She’d just had me, her second child. Her board straight hair hung down to her waist as she cooked all our meals from scratch and sewed all our clothes herself. She was sassy, and her jokes were dirty. She and my dad were poor, and the cloud of marijuana (allegedly) was thick. What if she’d put pen to paper and written all about raising babies so I could later learn? What would she say? Don’t know. But here’s my best guess.
Loretta’s Pretend Mommy Diary:
June 6, 1975: I know I begged my husband for this second baby, but now that I’ve got an infant and a 3 ½ year old under one roof, I’m starting to wonder if I should be allowed to make my own decisions. This is hard. At least I don’t bother with make-up or a bra, so that makes things easier.
June 9, 1975: We just opened the camera today to get the film developed, and it turns out that we forgot to put film in the camera, so we have no photos from Amy’s birth. She’ll never know. She looks exactly like the first baby, so we’ll just show her pictures of her sister’s first days in the hospital. Also, on that note, I’m entirely too tired to do a baby book. Sorry, second child.
June 30, 1975: I am exhausted. Breastfeeding is draining, and crying babies are hard. Sunshine is helpful. I go outside and pick an avocado from our tree. Then I cut it up, put salt on it, and eat the whole thing. None for the baby. Mine.
July 10, 1975: I’ve found that a good activity is to let the older child dress up the baby and push her around in a relatively unsafe toy baby carriage. Now I’m starting to realize my plan to have a second child was genius.
July 25, 1975: When both children are screaming at the top of their lungs, I like to do yoga stretches to meditate. I also just discovered that they sell a gallon jug of Blue Nun wine at the market.
August 7, 1975: The secret to combating constant spitting up and pooping is to never actually dress the baby. Besides, everyone loves a baby in a diaper.
September 2, 1975: I like to keep a clean home. The trick to that is “letting” the girls play outside all day long. They love it, and it’s safe because this is the 70s. Plus, I put down a blanket.
October 14, 1975: I love to throw a dinner party. I now only invite other couples with children. When everyone is crying at once, we put them in the playroom with the 11-year-old in charge. It really is more fun. Plus, I think the music and smoke relaxes babies. I made chicken cacciatore.
November 1, 1975: Guess what’s better than throwing a dinner party? Going to someone else’s! We went over to Simon and Rose’s tonight. They have 2 kids and a pool. It was perfect. We didn’t see the kids all night.
November 2, 1975: In the morning light, I’m starting to think leaving four kids unattended in a backyard with a pool wasn’t that safe. But everyone is alive and the Vienna pinwheels were delicious.
November 15, 1975: Amy has learned to climb up on the coffee table. I’ve instructed her sister (who’s already a hospital and stitches veteran) to line the floor with pillows, so I can at least do the laundry. I ended up on the floor with them trying to enjoy it but instead burned the meatloaf and never got the laundry done. Am I a bad mom? How will I ever pull off Thanksgiving?
December 6, 1975: Whenever I feel down, and I just don’t know what to do, I remember Dr. Spock’s words that as a mother, I know more than I think I do. “You know more than you think you do.” That’s the message I’d like to send to my daughters if they one day become mothers.
See? She knew what she was talking about.
Even though I made it all up, I’ll take it. I love you, Mom.