Forgetting Your Baby in the Back Seat: “It couldn’t happen to me….”

Forgetting Your Baby in the Back Seat: “It couldn’t happen to me….”

steering wheel

As the days have been getting warmer, there’s been a resurgence of Facebook posts warning parents and pet owners not to leave their kids and dogs alone in hot cars.  I saw similar posts last summer, and flatly ignored them.  I had no intentions of leaving my baby alone in a car, hot or otherwise, so I assumed the warnings had nothing to do with me.  And then I read the Washington Post article “Fatal Distraction,” which recounted in heart-wrenching detail the stories of several parents whose young children died after being accidentally left in the back seat of the car.

When I started reading the article, I thought the whole thing was total BS.  HOW COULD ANYONE FORGET THAT THEIR BABY IS IN THE BACK SEAT??!!  I wasn’t buying it, not for one second. What kind of horribly negligent parent Read more

Being Grateful for the Stuff That’s Invisible

Being Grateful for the Stuff That’s Invisible

grateful

Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you got ’til it’s gone?

In the span of less than a year, I became a parent, left my job, and moved from a big city to a small town of about 3,500.  I traded in my life of happy hours, high-end restaurants and theater performances for diapers, baby food and story time at the library.  I wouldn’t trade my life for anything in the world, but it’s been a pretty dramatic lifestyle change.  From my new vantage point I can see with new clarity all the things I took for granted in my “old” life.

I now work from home part-time, and most people think they’d do the same in a heartbeat if they had the chance.  But working from home has made me acutely aware of all the things that are awesome about working in an office – the morning chats with coworkers, the potlucks and holiday parties, the lunchtime gossip sessions.   Having coworkers Read more

The Little White Lies Parents Tell

The Little White Lies Parents Tell

guilty face

I’ve written before about how my old opinions about parenting went right out the window as soon as I actually had a kid.  No screentime before age 2, all home-made baby food, never losing my temper… yeah, I didn’t stick to any of those.  But here’s another opinion from that list that I hope I can actually follow through on: not lying to my son.

I’m not making an argument for 100% candor.  There are concepts that are too mature for my almost-2-year-old son, and complexities that I put in simpler terms that he can understand.  What I’m talking about is the little white lies of convenience – the things that come out of our mouths without much thought at all Read more

The Day My Son was Called Stick Boy

The Day My Son was Called Stick Boy

The day my son...

As long as he’s outside, my son is a pretty easy kid to entertain.  It’s amazing to me how long he can stay occupied just digging in the dirt, throwing rocks in a stream, or simply walking around wielding a stick.  So if the weather’s decent, you’ll probably find us wandering around the neighborhood.  On one such day I was trailing after my son while he tromped, stick in hand, down the sidewalk. We walked by a neighbor’s house, where visiting relatives’ young children were playing in the front yard.  We paused so my son could “say hello” (or his version of it) to the kids, and as we walked away an isolated phrase floated to my ears: “Stick Boy.”  I didn’t catch the context, but the little boy’s tone was unmistakable.  He was making fun of my son.

The words were like a punch to the gut.  I will readily admit Read more

10 Weird Things that Happen When You Become a Mom

10 Weird Things that Happen When You Become a Mom

mom

The day your first child is born, there are about a million ways in which life as you know it will never be the same.  Here are a few truths about motherhood that I never really thought about before I became a mom.

1)     We hear our babies crying all. the. time. Neighbor’s dog barking? Distant ambulance siren? Goose honking while it flies by? Somehow they all – at least momentarily – sound like our baby’s cry.

2)      We learn just how much it’s possible to accomplish with only one arm.  Who knew I could make Nutella cupcakes with buttercream frosting while holding my infant son the entire time?

3)      Things come out of our mouths that we never would have expected.  “Sweetie, don’t chew of Papa’s flip flop.” “No honey, that’s not Mama, that’s Michelle Obama.”

4)      Our kisses take on the magical power to make pain disappear.

5)      Even if we absolutely swore we’d never do baby-talk, Read more

Why Parents Need to Stop Judging Each Other (but probably won’t)

Why Parents Need to Stop Judging Each Other (but probably won’t)

1208847_35671158

Becoming a parent has made me eat my words.  A lot of them.  Before I had my son, I had plenty of opinions about the best way to raise kids.  If a mom mentioned in passing a TV show that their 18-month old enjoyed, I’d think to myself “that kid shouldn’t be watching television! Pediatricians recommend no screen time before age 2!”  At social functions, I’d silently judge parents who would let their little ones just eat junk food.  From discipline techniques to bedtimes, I had endless opinions about what parents could be doing better.

Dealing with the struggles of real-world parenting has been a major wake-up call.  At a recent Super Bowl party, my son basically ate hamburger rolls and cookies for dinner… I see now that getting your kid to eat apple sauce when everyone around them is eating junk food is essentially impossible.  His normal diet is pretty darn good, and we’ll all survive some unhealthy snacking during the occasional party.  And yes, my son (now 20 months old) watches TV.  What started Read more

A Message to New Moms on Baby’s First Birthday

A Message to New Moms on Baby’s First Birthday

new mom 2

You made it through a year of parenthood!  Before your very eyes, your baby transformed from a tiny helpless creature who could basically only eat, poop and sleep into an active one-year-old who can laugh, crawl, play, and might even be starting to walk or talk.  Baby’s first birthday isn’t just a milestone for her – it’s also the anniversary of the day you became a parent.  The day your little one was born, your life changed forever.  You’ve probably never known such joy and love, but you’ve also probably never felt quite so exhausted.  It’s easy for mommy-hood to completely take over your life and identity for a while.  I think this is pretty normal.  Particularly in the first few months, your baby is so helpless that it takes all your time and energy just to tend to his needs.  But by the time baby has turned one, life has most likely calmed down a little, and baby is probably better able to handle being apart from you.  Once all the presents have been opened and the icing has been cleaned out from behind baby’s ears, Read more

25 Screen-free Activities for Your Toddler

25 Screen-free Activities for Your Toddler

Toddler bucket list: 25 screen-free activities

The draw of the screen is undeniable – well before my son’s first birthday, he was already eager to get his hands on any cell phone left within his reach.  While tablets and smartphones can certainly be a lifesaver in our moments of desperation with our little ones, I worry about how addictive these devices can be.  My prime childhood years took place before most families even had personal computers at home, and I can’t help but feel nostalgic for that low-tech era.  I remember inventing games with my neighborhood friends, riding our big wheels down the hill, getting sprayed with the hose to stay cool in the summer, and hours of entertainment with a huge cardboard box when the family next door got a new fridge.  My son will grow up surrounded by much more technology that I did – there’s no getting around that fact.  But the experiences that make childhood memorable are unlikely to involve playing computer games!  Here are 25 screen-free experiences I want my little guy to have during his childhood years: Read more

Baby Registry Checklist: A Real Mom’s Guide to What you Actually Need

Baby Registry Checklist: A Real Mom’s Guide to What you Actually Need

registry checklist

I don’t know about everyone else, but during my pregnancy I was completely overwhelmed by the prospect of all the STUFF I had to buy for my little one!  My baby book had an entire chapter dedicated to all the items baby would need.  I saw registry checklists online, but got lost in the terminology – what the heck were footmuffs and “baby bodies”? (For the record, my son is now 19-months and I still don’t know what those things are).  It also seemed like a lot of the suggested items were overkill – did I really need a device to tell me if the bathwater was too hot?   I wanted to be prepared, but didn’t want to end up with a house full of baby stuff that would never really get used.

So here is a Moderate Mama’s take on what you really need.   Read more

Welcome to A Moderate Mama!

Welcome to A Moderate Mama!

In the early days and weeks after I gave birth to my son, like many other first-time parents I felt overwhelming joy and love, punctuated by feelings of total self-doubt.  I knew parenting would be hard, but I never expected how completely lost I would feel at times, unsure of the best thing to do for my child.  Everyone had told me to “trust my instincts,” but those instincts felt insufficient for the specific challenges I encountered, in particular my baby’s sleep struggles.  The internet became both a blessing and a curse.  It was helpful to have so much information at my fingertips, but the parenting advice I found would often leave me feeling inadequate and defeated.  Website after website insisted that babies needed to be put to bed sleepy but not asleep in order to learn to fall asleep on their own.  This made sense in theory, but impossible to implement when I watched my baby screaming and frantic when I tried to lay him in the crib.  Claims about the “right” way to do things felt completely disconnected from my reality, and I kept thinking “is it just me?”  I read advice at opposite extremes that left me more confused than when I’d started; co-sleeping was either critical to your baby’s happiness and well-being according to the attachment parenting crowd, or extremely dangerous and to be avoided at all costs.

My son never turned into a champion sleeper, but slowly, by fits and starts, we fell into a sleep routine that worked better for everyone.  A year and half later, that period of self-doubt feels like a lifetime ago.  I certainly still have my moments of uncertainty, but I’ve learned to balance “expert” advice with my own experience and my knowledge of what works for my little one.  I’ve read about different parenting philosophies, and concluded that no single approach has all the answers.  I’ve found a place in between the extremes that works for me and my family.  Now I want to share my parenting journey, and the wisdom I’ve picked up along the way.  I will aim to be a voice of moderation in the parenting blogosphere.  I care deeply about my child’s nutrition, but I didn’t make all his baby food from scratch.  I was fully committed to the importance of breastfeeding, but I supplemented with formula when it was necessary.  I slept with my little one in my arms during those early days when it was the only place he’d sleep, but by 4 months he’d transitioned to sleeping in the crib in his own room.  Like most moms and dads I’ve had everything from flashes of pure genius to moments of total failure; on this blog I promise to share both with honesty and candor.