Raising Mary: So Much For Supermom


Stay-at-home mom Tracy Cooper looks back at five years of Mommy Diaries and wishes she spent less time making homemade baby food and more time on herself.

Here’s a short, effective recipe for making sure both you and your husband are equally sleep-deprived in your baby’s first weeks:

Have your husband get up in the dead of night to change the baby’s diaper when the alarm goes off for her feeding. As mother of the exclusively breastfed newborn, then get up yourself to – duh – actually feed said baby. When you’re done, have your husband, who has lumbered back into bed and fallen into a deep sleep, get up again to change the baby’s diaper. About two hours later, repeat. This way, you will both be bleary-eyed, zombie-like creatures stumbling about the house during the day.
This insanity is indeed what Tom and I did after Mary’s birth. I guess since he had several weeks off work, we wanted to share, in our excitement, every task as parents.
But why did we change diapers before and after every feeding around the clock? This represents at least 20 diaper changes a day! I can assure you, our just-as-adored baby #2 never got such over-pampering.
Mary is now five and our other daughter, Adelaide, is three. And as I think back to those first days, weeks, months and years as a parent, there are a few ways I’ve changed, and things I wish I’d known.
For example – and this is going to sound counter-intuitive – I wish I had given a little less attention to Mary in those two-plus years she was an only child. I really did think I had to be entertaining and interacting with her all of her waking hours at first. While this was fun for her and for me at the time, I feel like it took her a little longer to learn to entertain herself than it would have if I had let her play on her own more. I think it also turned her world upside down for a bit when her little sister was born and I just couldn’t play with her all the time.
I would be a little less uptight about some insignificant safety concerns. I remember getting squeamish when I felt relatives or friends were holding baby Mary with her head not at the perfect angle.
I wouldn’t have made so much baby food from scratch. I know, it sounds awful, but I really feel this one. How many hours did I spend after putting toddler Mary to bed at night, roasting sweet potatoes and steaming broccoli, then pureeing and spooning it into plastic cubes for freezing? You know what I wish I’d done with some of those hours? Read a non-baby book or painted my toenails or in some other way taken time to recharge. There are many high-quality, organic baby food options out there now – including frozen, pureed vegetable cubes!
I would have pulled that thumb out of Mary’s mouth when she discovered it at eight weeks of age. Thumb-sucking was so cute then, and it meant she never wailed at night for a pacifier that had fallen out of the crib. Five years later, she still loves to suck her thumb and I have been unable to find a way to motivate her to stop.
I would have implemented a ‘tidy-up’ policy years ago. I used to just find it easier to do after Mary was in bed. Instead, I am met with teenage-like refusal from my five-year-old who doesn’t understand why I suddenly want her to clean up.
There will likely be more regrets as Mary gets older. But so far, there are more significant things I wouldn’t change: spending quality time with her and Adelaide; reading to them and providing lots of books; insisting on a no-hitting policy between the girls; setting aside lots of family time and voicing and showing affection often.
There is one other thing I’d change. I didn’t know you could love someone so much until I held Mary in my arms. With that knowledge, we would have started our family earlier!

Published in March 2011.

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