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We took a break from baby-world this week and headed out of town, first to a friend’s wedding in Virginia, then to a lake in Maine with some good friends. We are the only ones who haven’t had kids yet--there were three kids under the age of two at the house. It got me thinking a lot about the reality of having a child, versus all the prep that you focus on before baby.
One parallel I’ve been making lately is to weddings versus marriage. I think a lot of people focus on planning the wedding and forget that the marriage will, if all goes well, last much, much longer. Same with babies. Early in my pregnancy I got a little obsessive about researching natural childbirth and reading birth stories, especially in memoirs written by midwives. Now I’m trying to step back and ask my mom-friends tons of questions about newborn care, how you learn what to do, what to expect, and so on. I feel incredibly lucky to have a handful of good friends who beat me to the motherhood punch by anywhere from six months to 2.5 years, and I know I’ll only appreciate what they have to offer more as the months go by.
It’s a change of pace from my usual topics, but I thought I’d share a few of the things that stood out for me while on vacation with the kiddos:
-The more kids are involved in a trip, the more worthwhile it is to plan really simple meals, preserving those precious nap times for swimming and visiting instead of cooking. As one of the other women said to me, “Yeah, next year I bet you’ll leave the panini press at home.”
-Watching younger children learn from the older ones is totally mind-blowing. The 10-month-old in the house almost started walking after a couple days of watching the 14-month-old and his 2.5-year-old brother. She also scribbled on paper with a pen while the older boys were coloring, something she’d never tried to do before. (The oldest is a total whiz with his dad’s iPad, but we didn’t let the baby give that a shot.)
-Companionship is key: All that advice I’m appreciating so much? It’s also impossible to overrate the importance of friends who won’t judge you if you complain about something kid-related, or spouse-related, or body-related, or...
Obviously it’s not healthy to be negative all the time, but I DO think it takes a lot of stress off if you know you can say, “this is driving me crazy” without your friends thinking you’re a bad person (or bad mother). And hashing out possible solutions might just help you find the light at the end of the tunnel.
-If you’re the only one in a vacation house who doesn’t need to get up at 5:30 a.m. with the kids, remember earplugs. (I did, luckily.)
It was a shock to come back from Maine and be hit with 94-degree heat and crazy humidity in Boston; I spent all day sweating profusely and rearranging fans in various rooms. My mom (who had two August babies) advises sticking my feet in a pan of cool water, which I will try next time I’m that massively overheated. It’s definitely time to haul out the window air conditioners...
Kate Flaim is a freelance journalist and food blogger based in Cambridge, Mass. When she's not cooking or writing, she is gearing up for the arrival of her first child this summer.