Mothering is an Art

So moms are pretty amazing is what I’ve realized. One huge revelation was the high degree of physical, tactical, and sensory finesse required to do the job. Here are a few skills I’ve honed. I’m pretty proud of them.

– The art of removing a nipple and sliding in a pacifier without the half-eating, half-sleeping baby realizing the change in texture.

– The art of turning down blankets in a crib with one’s toes while keeping a baby horizontal and asleep.

– Without doubt, the most practiced and hoped-for skill: putting the baby to bed. You silently creep to the nursery while maintaining a tight yet still comforting grip around your baby. When you reach the crib you then lean ever so gently over. It is vastly important not to have the baby sense the open air as he leaves your chest in transition. You lay your arm down on the sheets between you and the baby, hoping to warm them in a few seconds. If you sense any resistance from the baby at all, you must freeze and tighten the grip – not too much, just enough to seem natural. I have found “shhhushing” does more harm than good to an awakening baby. It is best to remain silent. If the baby stays motionless on the sheets, you maintain the grasp with one hand while securing the blanket with the other. Again, keep two hands on the baby for at least 30 seconds. If things seem hopeful, say a silent prayer and tiptoe out…

– the art of burping. Okay here’s one skill I actually don’t have but want to. So many questions. Does the patting need to be hard or soft? Positioned low or high on the back? How often does one burp in a feeding? How does one know when the “burps are out”? Does an upright baby produce more burps? Should one alternate positions in one burping session? Any help????

– The art of soothing a fussy baby. This one is the ever-changing, elusive skill. One day your little one needs absolute quiet, darkness, and serenity. The next only reciting your grocery list (or any other repetitive sounding paragraph said in a monotone voice) in a roomful of conversing people with guitar music in the background of an illuminated room works. Somedays the rocking motion needs to be brisk and lateral; others only the cadence of, say, a stationary pontoon boat in a slightly deserted cove – i.e. slow circular motion with “shh-ing” to imitate rippling waves. And then there’s the mysterious pacifier. Somedays it meets the lips with the penultimate satisfaction of a longed-for meal. Others it’s spat out immediately with a look conveying, “How could you. That is NOT the real thing and I KNOW IT!” Oh, one day I’ll be a baby whisperer. Seriously, why don’t they teach classes on these actually useful things instead of Lamaze and tour-of-the-hospital?

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