How To Be The Ultimate Perfect Best New Mom Who Has It All Together

There’s a lot of advice out there for new moms, and most of it either sounds exhausting and unattainable or totally contradicts the other advice you read 10 minutes ago that you thought sounded good. So what should you do? Let your baby “cry it out,” or pick them up and squeeze them lovingly every time they cry? Will your baby turn into a hardened criminal because you left them alone in their crib like the abandoned child on that episode of SVU, or will they end up an entitled asshole because you comforted them every time they were sad?

Obviously I want to provide the best of everything for my new baby and family. Here’s what I’ve learned about the most important advice.

1. Cook yourself and your partner a healthy (local, vegan, paleo, low-carb, seasonal, Gwenyth Paltrow approved) dinner every night, for rejuvenation purposes.

a healthy meal

For example, this meal of iceberg lettuce and waffle cheese fries hit all of the important macronutrient groups: protein (cheese), carb (potato, a vegetable!), and fat (blue cheese dressing). A few decorative cubes of ShopRite on-the-vine tomato provide micronutrients like vitamin C and lycopene (a very up-and-coming phytochemical). The fat content in the salad dressing allows the vitamin K in the tomato to be better absorbed (K is a fat-soluble vitamin).

Consult your favorite healthy cookbooks for ideas if you’re not sure what to make 7 days a week.

nuts

2. Make your own organic baby food purees.

baby food

It’s best to ask local farmers if you can pay extra to forage their fields for the freshest vegetables and fruits, but shopping at farmers markets is okay, too. Once you bring these earth candies home, carefully wash in filtered water, peel, and bake or boil separately. Combine in sophisticated combinations with global spices to ensure your baby develops an impressive palate. Try a purée of Saigon cinnamon and white beans with mango and cilantro chutney and a baked apple slaw for your favorite 6 month old.

3. Ensure a clean environment at all times.

eating a dirty magazine

Don’t let your baby eat dirty magazines you found on the street that were “still good.” Try not to let your baby eat fistfuls of dog hair several times per day. Hand-wash their organic BPA-free plastic toys with gentle, organic soaps whenever they fall on your freshly mopped environmentally conscious bamboo floors.

4. Try to avoid putting your baby next to weird, potentially deadly, rabid, or ferocious animals.

danger duck

You don’t know where those ducks have been.

5. Don’t let your baby fall asleep wearing dangerous/ potentially suffocating fashion accessories.

deadly fashion

Remove all hazardous materials before rocking your baby gently to sleep in your arms. Loose fabrics are the Genghis Khans of sleeping babies; any accessory can be the murderous leader of a deadly army of knits.

6. Do not leave your screaming baby on a couch covered in dog/cat hair just because you think they look funny and you really want to take a picture.

good times

Your baby should be happy at all times, and it’s not hilarious when they’re upset. Soothe your baby during times of distress, and don’t stop to take a picture of them looking like a freakish, purple, angry chicken nugget to text to your husband with the caption “LOL.”

Every moment is an opportunity to create lasting damage to your new baby’s delicate and impressionable psyche. Please remember that every decision you make based on instinct is probably wrong, as far as I can tell from looking at page 1 of various Google searches. 

Bonus: techniques for deliberate starvation/ unattainable beauty goals 

Let It All Hang Out

I know I’ve been a bit of a downer lately, and really, it’s not because things are bad (at least not since I had that terrible IUD removed). Let me explain.

Motherhood has been a great opportunity for me to explore the vivid, exposed, most vulnerable parts of myself. I’m constantly oscillating between allowing myself to indulge in the intensity of emotion that’s part of becoming Lucy’s mother, and (mostly) the normal day-to-day stuff. The latter involves me scheduling our days with 1-2 outings, meal-planning, scheduling play time, cleaning the house, conducting business, giving bottles at 7, 11, 3, 7, and 11. All of these parts are important to me, necessary, to being present for this moment in my life. I want to feel the weight of my love for Lu, and let it change me, and I also want to be sane, happy, know what to expect in small ways, and be able to get shit done.

it's a good thing she's cute

it’s a good thing she’s cute

I try to write about both of these parts, but think the scary part is more interesting to explore. We all have our own ways of dealing with the unpredictability of new motherhood.

I don’t want to spiral into another depression that leaves me impotent, but I want to be HERE, where ever that is. I want to feel all the scary, messy stuff that I’ve historically tried to avoid. I want to learn how to surrender, because from pregnancy and birth on, I have a feeling I will really need to know how to do that. Fighting against fear instead of riding its current, gripping your fists tightly around a weightless, substanceless thing does not work for long. So, I am trying to allow myself to change.

All of that said, our little life is pretty great. The mornings are the best, because I’ve just had three coffees, and Lu is in a good mood and will play independently while I draw or read. We go to story time at the library now on Tuesdays, where I beam embarrassing smiles at the other moms in an attempt to make friends (but I actually just look like Alicia Silverstone in “The Crush”). We run our little errands. She plays on her activity mat, exersaucer, or scoots around on the handmade quilt a friend gave us and I build up stacks of blocks over and over again for her to knock down with a tiny, outstretched arm. 4-7 pm is the no-man’s-land of sheer terror, where Lucy is sick of every toy she owns and wants me to hoist her 17 pound body on my hip for hours while I try to cook dinner, which inevitably involves spattering hot grease and 10″ knives. (I count down the last hours of the day in 15 minute intervals, waiting for bath time, and then the last bottle, and then the ultimate peace: me on the couch alone with a caffeine free diet coke watching American Ninja Warrior, responsible for absolutely nothing for the one hour before I go to bed and read in silence and fall asleep.)

IMG_6404

the lady and her block stacks

I know it sounds heavy, but all of it is beautiful and alive. A change like motherhood doesn’t come without its growing pains.

My very favorite things: all of her little sounds (and how she tries to sing when I sing), the first smile on her face when I stand over her crib in the morning, how determined she is to figure things out (how to move, how to get something into her mouth, how to get a toy from the table to the ground), how she opens her mouth wide when a bottle or spoonful of peach puree approaches, how excited she gets now when she sees another baby. Also: having help from my mother-in-law so I can spend three luxurious hours watching SVU reruns during the day while making bad celebrity fan art, all of the rare but insanely special moments I get to be alone, the times when my husband and I connect and laugh about stuff and appreciate each other. There are too many wonderful things to mention.

Mostly our days are pleasant and practical, with occasional moments of intense feeling and introspection. I am hanging the welcome sign out front and inviting in what life is like now: strange, familiar, easy, hard, scary, light, tender and rough. Let it all hang out.