The evolution of mothers

There is a vast world of difference in your attitude as a first-time mom and as a seasoned veteran.

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  • Our first child and the children who follow him suffer at the hands of our incompetence in very different ways. Sometimes I look back and thank my God that he watched over them and filled in the gaps in my judgment — saving them to live another day.

  • Here are some scenarios showing the glaring differences between what we do as a first-time mom and what we do after a few trips to the delivery room.

  • Outings

  • First-time moms

  • pack the diaper bag with a dozen diapers, wipes, ointment in case the baby develops an awful rash in the next two hours, baby ibuprofen, a teether, a binky, a blanket, two changes of clothes, an extra bonnet, emergency phone numbers, a changing pad, hand sanitizer, another blanket, a baby music CD, board books, nail clippers, a thermometer, a bottle and formula or nursing pads, teething biscuits, his favorite plush toy and a photo book of family.

  • The second time around mom

  • grabs a diaper and a Ziploc with a couple of wipes and tosses them into her purse.

  • Sleeping

  • First-time moms

  • put baby in a blanket sleeper to make sure she's warm enough, place her in the correct position, start the musical lullaby machine and check the baby monitor to make certain it's working. New moms then go in every hour to make sure the baby is still breathing and to check her position in case she's changed it. They press a thumb into the diaper to see if it leaves an imprint indicating the diaper is too wet. Lastly, with the first child mom sits in the rocking chair to watch baby — just in case.

  • The second time around mom

  • sees a little one has fallen asleep on the living room floor. Let sleeping dogs lie. She throws an afghan from sofa over her child. She'll change him in the morning.

  • Eating

  • First-time moms

  • have a list and make copies for anyone who might tend to baby so that everyone, and anyone, is completely aware of things this child must not, under any circumstances, be fed. A first-timer makes a schedule of when her baby eats and what he eats and never deviates from it. She monitors any reactions and checks her child's throat for swelling. She scrutinizes bowel movements for any odd changes in color and consistency.

  • The second time around mom

  • mashes up food from her own plate and hopes for the best. Soft beginner foods include cheese curls, cotton candy and sardines.

  • Playthings

  • First-time moms

  • do research to see what is most stimulating to brain function, beneficial to hand-eye coordination and politically correct. The new mom keeps Lysol on hand to sanitize toys after each use. She sets up circuit training with several different types of toys and moves baby from station to station in 10-minute intervals four times a day. She has classical music playing softly in the background, uses colors that enhance good mood and talks to baby as he works through playtime, explaining why she chose each toy.

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  • The second time around mom

  • opens the cupboards so baby can pull out pots, pans and mixing bowls. She throws in measuring tools and wooden spoons. Jimi Hendrix is playing in the background.

  • Memories

  • First-time moms

  • have an oft-updated baby book, with every major event recorded in vivid description. The baby journal is updated daily with the amazing things baby does. ("He blinked at me. I'm fairly certain it was in Morse code.") Photos are taken by smartphone and posted to Facebook. Digital pictures are posted to their own webpage. Actual 38 mm prints are processed and sent out monthly to grandparents to update their photo albums. She makes an annual hard-bound photo album of baby's yearly progress. Baby has a professional photo shoot every birthday. A scrapbook is kept of every card received since the birth announcement and a log of every gift received and the date thank-you's were sent out.

  • The second time around mom's

  • baby book tells the date born, weight and length. Pictures capture only the most embarrassing moments for use as blackmail when her child is a teenager — bathtub shots, spaghetti face, sleeping in high chair, eating dirt and such.

  • Medical

  • First-time moms

  • read every baby medical book they can get their hands on so they know what's normal — then calls the doctor anyway. A new mom does copious research online while baby naps. She records every sniffle, elevated temperature, unusual crying and longer than normal nap time and presents the log to her doctor at every visit for his scrutiny. She calls her mother and asks about her own childhood. She sends a questionnaire to every family member regarding diseases and hospitalizations they've had.

  • The second time around mom

  • rocks baby when she has a fever, realizing they sometimes happen for no inexplicable reason.

  • Love and affection

  • First-time moms

  • tell baby how much she loves him and how glad she is that he decided to join their family. Give hugs every hour baby is awake. Read stories twice a day (mid-morning break in circuit training and prior to bedtime). Have tickle time once a day. Talk to baby as they go through the daily routine to expand his vocabulary. Tell baby how proud they are of his progress. Let baby know he is cute, smart, kind and talented. Stop every adult conversation to listen to gurgling and cooing.

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  • The second time around mom

  • tells baby how much she loves him and how glad she is that he decided to join her family. Hugs him twice a day. Reads stories every night before bed. Has tickle time once a day. Talks to baby as she goes through her daily routine. Lets baby know he is cute, smart, kind and talented. Admires cooing and gurgling, but continues the adult conversations. Makes certain baby knows he was wanted just as much as the first was.

  • Love doesn't diminish with each child. It grows exponentially. It just becomes more routine and less dramatic. You get comfortable in your ability to care for your children and your confidence in your memory becomes more solid. It takes less to rattle you. You realize that women have been mothering for eons with much less than you have. You just make it work.

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Becky Lyn is an author and a 35+ year (most of the time) single mom.


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