This is my reunion week.
Spent the weekend in a tiny town of 997 at the foot of a glorious peak in central Utah. The very air cleanses me. My sweet mother-in-law can't understand why I love it so. But it recharges my batteries. Plus she keeps a stack of old Reader's Digests.
Right now I'm in Logan, chilling at my sister-in-law's house - her college flat that almost makes me miss my co-ed days. Her refrigerator is covered in engagement announcements, the bookshelves full of romantic comedies and they have so many kinds of shampoo it's like walking into a supermarket when I step in the shower.
My boys are asleep - Mr. Squishy is actually sleeping in a DRAWER. (Ouro Branco took the playpen and Little Prince in an MIA roommate's bed.) The drawer really looks quite comfy. I feel like Laura Ingalls Wilder.
Tomorrow I'm off to Rexburg to see my BRAND NEW NEPHEW. He was born early yesterday morning and I'm just a leetle bit excited.
This is the unsolicited advice that I would love to give my brother and his beautiful wife:
- Remain each other's number one priorities. Don't let my nephew come between you for anything. He'll get married someday - and you'll be left with each other. Be best friends. Be one.
- Sleep when the baby sleeps. Let the dishes pile, phone calls go unanswered and dinner go uncooked. It's okay. SLEEP WHILE YOU CAN.
- Lansinoh was invented by God himself.
- Pictures are more important than anything. Take them. Take thousands. Take MILLIONS. Babies change every day.
- Resist the urge to compare. It is impossible - IMPOSSIBLE! - to avoid it completely. It's a built-in reflex reaction that is triggered post-partum. But don't stress about it. Love your baby for the stage he's in, even if he's "behind."
- Every child needs to read "The Giving Tree" and "Where the Wild Things Are."
- Take time to play with your child. Really play. Tell him stories. Tell him your love story and how he came to be. (You can leave out details.) Tell him about Heavenly Father and before how he came to be. Read to him out loud and kiss his cheeks and tickle his chin and run feathers over his feet. This will be hard as he gets older and there's lots of other things to do. Don't be too task-oriented. Live for your children.
- That said, take time for yourself, too. If you don't have a hobby, get one. Get more than one. Be interested in other things.
- Make girl time. Schedule in lunches and playdates and shopping and sleepovers. Don't lose your womanhood over motherhood.
- Make couple time. You don't have to spend money, but have a date once a week. Even if you just watch a movie at home, don't let anything else interrupt. And do go out every once in a while. Pay a baby-sitter or trade with another couple. This is important stuff. It's okay - even healthy - to leave the baby at home sometimes.
- Get dressed in the morning. Every morning. Put on your shoes and makeup and do your hair even if it's "only the baby" that sees you. You're worth it.
- Let both parents parent. There's not necessarily right and wrong ways to parent - just different. Let both parents voice ideas and opinions and decide how to raise your child together.
- It's okay if you don't put on Baby Einstein while he's sleeping and enroll him in swimming classes when he's 6 months old or communicate in sign language the moment he comes out of the womb. The best thing you can do is love him. Just love him.
- Don't beat yourself up when you - inevitably - mess up. It seems impossible now, but someday you will be mad at him. Perhaps, heaven forbid, morph into a Mommy Monster Lady and yell and scream at him. Again - don't kill yourself. It's okay to cry, because it makes you want to be better. And then BE BETTER. But I promise you that there isn't a mommy on the planet who doesn't lose her temper sometimes.
- Invest in a good washing machine. It may be the most important purchase of your life.
- Document all the wonderful little moments - they tend to slew together and become forgotten. Write them down so you can go back and remember why you had that sweet baby in the first place.
- Never, ever forget that he's not yours. Not really. You are only baby-sitters - an older brother and sister asked to care for this precious soul. Treat him as such. Love him as his true parents would, and return him to their care.
- Love, Aunt That Girl
Ten points to whoever actually read all of that!