Dear Tiny Baby…

Letters to Ethan. Which he can't read yet. We'll get there eventually.

Impulse Control

Dear Tiny Baby,

As you get older, a very sad thing happens called “impulse control”. Though it’s entirely necessary for the sake of getting along with other human beings and keeping yourself out of an early grave, it is kind of depressing when you are suddenly expected to stop swinging on every tree branch you pass and when it’s no longer cute to recite movie quotes to yourself in public. Generally, as you get older, that sort of behavior becomes considered a type of mental disorder requiring some sort of medical intervention.

Mommy has really, really bad impulse control. And you may inherit this trait, so I’m just going to quickly walk you through what comes with that. Just in case. Let me paint you a little picture:

You’ll be a full-fledged adult. You’ll have bills, a car, student loans, and laundry to do. You’ll be able to vote, drink, smoke (but don’t), and play the lottery. People will look at you and take you at least somewhat seriously before you even speak, because when people see you, they will see an adult. You will be for real. You might even have a mortgage payment – who knows? You’re just wild like that, and you’re allowed to be. You know why? Because you will be grown.

But even with all this great power and responsibility, there will always be this little thing called “impulse control” that just loves to slack off when you least expect it. You might be applying for a great job, talking to your potential future employer, doing your best to look like the go-getter of their dreams…and it will be all you can do to keep from drawing something inappropriate in their desktop Zen garden. You could be on a wonderful date with someone you really like and want to impress…and then you’ll hear “Take On Me” over the radio and you will have to force yourself not to stand up and start rocking out.

What I’m saying is this: enjoy the fact that when you’re a kid, you get to act like you are mildly insane and get away with it. The cuteness wears off sometime around the age of 10, and then you have to, like, mature or something. I know, I know, it’s completely lame and frankly, the world would be a better place if it were socially acceptable to fix people’s bad toupees while you’re staring at it in line for the ATM (I mean, come on, you’d be doing the guy a favor).

So I’m going to offer you a deal: you can be as wacky and weird around me as you want. Within reason. I mean, don’t go around smashing plates just because you feel like it. But if you want to sing? Sing. You want to dance? Bust a move. You want to have a full-fledged conversation with yourself using different voices or accents to make it seem like there are other people around? Go right ahead. Mommy does that all the time. It’s the only way she gets any writing done.

As long as you aren’t hurting or bothering anyone else, you do what you have to do. Be yourself. Some may call you weird (and they are probably not wrong). Some may say that turning a cartwheel on your morning jog makes you strange  (again, probably not wrong). But you know what? You’ll be a happier person if you give in. And the world will be way more interesting that way.



You’re getting on Mommy’s nerves!

Dear Tiny Baby,

No, don’t get upset – you’re not annoying me at all. I mean that you’re literally getting on my nerves. That? Right there? That thing you keep kicking? That’s a nerve (or something that feels an awful lot like it). And when you kick it, it makes Mommy jump like a spooked horse. So, for the sake of us co-existing harmoniously for the next ten weeks or so, just kick an inch to the right or left of there. Otherwise you might startle Mommy into oncoming traffic, and believe me, that’s just not a good situation for anyone.


Do Mommy a favor…

Dear Tiny Baby,

Mommy is watching TV. There is a woman wearing a bright pink skirt with a bright red shirt. It hurts to look at her. Do Mommy a favor and never combine those colors on your person. I don’t think it’s terribly likely that you will, but if you get the urge, please fight it. Trust me, it’s for your own good. And for the good of the corneas of those surrounding you.


New Year’s resolutions

Dear Tiny Baby,

Every year, on December 31, the grown-ups all make something called “New Year’s resolutions”. These are promises that we make at the beginning of the year that we intend to keep. We don’t always succeed, but we set these goals to try to motivate ourselves to have a better year than the last: a year that is more productive, more frugal, healthier, more fun, etc.

This year, I am not making any formal resolutions. Usually I would make the “lose 15 pounds by June, pay off credit card, accomplish some other lofty goal like writing a novel” types of resolutions, but this year is a bit different. This year, my only resolution is to be the best mother I can be and not to beat myself up when I make mistakes. That second part is going to be a little bit tricky, but I’m going to do my best.

I can’t believe that in just a few hours, it will be 2012…the year I get to finally meet you, my little Tomato. It’s going to be a challenging time for all of us while Mommy and Daddy learn the ropes of parenting and you get used to being in this big, wide world. But I can tell you one thing that I know for certain: you are going to be so loved. So, so loved – by us, by your grandparents, by all your aunts and uncles and cousins (there are a lot), by all of our friends…there will be love coming from every corner, just for you.

So when Mommy is making that crazy face she makes right before she cries and Daddy is fumbling with the diapers and Gigi is desperately trying to repair something that broke, remember – at the core of all of that is more love than any of us know what to do with.

I love you so much, Ethan, and I can’t wait to meet you.

Here’s to the new year!




Dear Tiny Baby,

Mommy goes back and forth between referring to herself in the third person like someone crazy would do and referring to herself in the first person like someone normal would do. I don’t expect you to play so fast and loose with proper grammar when you’re old enough. Do as I say, not as I do, kid, and you’ll go far.


Judge not.

Dear Tiny Baby,

In today’s world, full of bloggers and trolls, reality TV and paparazzi, and in the midst of Twitter/Tumblr/texting/status updating mania, it is all too easy for people to look at something, give it a quick glance, and dash off a 140-character judgment, never looking back. We all do it. I’ve done it. If I’m in a particularly snarky mood, I freely admit that I’m the first to say something out of irritation with the types of people who never look up from their phone while ordering their coffee or the ones who wear enough perfume to choke a rhino. I’ll whip out my phone and update my Facebook as quickly as my thumbs can type. Do I think twice about it? Not really. I might delete it later, if I realize that I sounded too cruel, but usually I get responses from like-minded people who are irritated by the same things.

Now, that may seem relatively harmless. After all, I’m not calling anyone out by name and I’m not (usually) being particularly mean about it. I usually try to take the humorous route so as not to sound like a total brat. But I almost always catch myself thinking about what I said…and, often, regretting it at least a little. For all I know, that guy was in the middle of a really important conversation that really couldn’t be ignored, no matter the impact on his own schedule. Or maybe he’s just really shy and not comfortable looking the cashier in the eye. Can’t really fault him for that – I have days where I feel that shy, too. It’s tough. Maybe the lady wearing so much perfume has anosmia or something. Or maybe she had to skip her shower today and feels really self-conscious about it. Been there, and it’s no fun.

These are very small examples of the judgments we all pass every single day. Some are way bigger. Throughout your life, you’ll hear people make sweeping generalizations about all sorts of people, from teenagers to the elderly, from atheists to extremists. There is no one – not even God, and no, I’m not kidding about this – who is safe from being judged by others. There’s really no way to avoid judging others. You can’t force yourself not to think something. You can, however, force yourself not to say something.

Let me give you an example. Today, Mommy was out doing a little Christmas shopping. You’ve grown so much that my belly is unmistakable, and strangers are starting to comment. Usually, these comments are of the inquisitive or complimentary nature, which is great. This particular comment, however, was neither of those things.

There was a woman standing nearby with a friend. I saw her look at me, look at my stomach, and shake her head. She then turned to her friend and said, not even bothering to lower her voice for my benefit, “That girl cannot be more than sixteen!”

Well, that was rude. And something in me snapped. I turned to her and said, just as loudly, “Ma’am, I’m twenty-four. And I can hear you.”

The woman didn’t apologize. She didn’t say anything at all, actually. She just blushed and turned away, pretending that nothing had happened. She had been caught, and being caught like that can be a real shocker. I wasn’t exactly expecting her to say anything to me, but may a mumbled “sorry” would have been nice. Just as a courtesy.

What bothered me the most, though, was that she was so quick to assume certain things about me like that…and then not even whisper for my benefit. I’m sure other people have thought the same thing – I do look quite a bit younger than I really am, so I can’t really get upset about that – but at least it isn’t really mentioned. I did have someone else actually ask how old I was and act very relieved when I assured them I was not one of the stars of 16 and Pregnant.

The main thing, though, is this: even if I was only sixteen, that still wouldn’t give her (or anyone else) the right to assume things about me or make comments about me. You’ll hear a lot of phrases like “judge not, lest ye be judged”, “don’t judge until you’ve walked a mile in someone else’s shoes”, and similar sayings, all of which are meant to remind us not to make assumptions about people without really knowing their situation.

Yeah, maybe the guy who snapped at you is just a jerk – or maybe he’s dealing with the scariest time of his life and isn’t in full grip of his emotions. Maybe the slow cashier really is stupid – or maybe he’s new and is a little overwhelmed. And maybe the girl who looks far too young to be pregnant has made some poor decisions – or maybe she is married, in her twenties, and thrilled to be a mommy-to-be, and just happens to look younger than she is.

Whatever the case, always try to remember that there are billions of people in the world with billions of stories. We couldn’t possibly know them all. One of the easiest ways to keep your own sanity (and goodness) is to try to give people the benefit of the doubt. Judge not…lest ye look like a jerk.


P.S. Yes, Mommy is aware that she sounds like a total hypocrite since she is saying this and has no real intentions of ever totally cutting out the snark. A little snark and sarcasm here and there helps keep a mind healthy. However, we will discuss the difference between snark and cruelty when you’re a little older. Trust me – it will help you get through middle school as unscathed as possible if you learn that lesson early.

Mommy’s Scary Night

Dear Tiny Baby,

A couple of days ago, you may have noticed a lot of bouncing and jostling and a couple of very pronounced thuds. This is because your furry brother, Percy, slipped out of his collar and went running into traffic, so Mommy had to chase after him like a crazy woman. I fell very hard outside of the fire station, so the fire captain took me inside, captured Percy, and called an ambulance to make sure we were okay.

When we couldn’t get you to move using lights, sound, or pressure, Mommy got scared. Why were you being so still? Why couldn’t the EMT hear you with his stethoscope? I decided to go to the hospital, just to be safe. It was our first ride in an ambulance together, and it was actually a nice experience – the stretcher was pretty comfortable and the ride was short. I was assured that we were all right, and that if they were worried at all, they would have had the lights and sirens on. I knew you were probably just fine, but I couldn’t help being afraid.

We got to the hospital and went into Labor & Delivery, where they strapped on monitors and poked and prodded to try and get you to wiggle. We could hear your heartbeat and hear you moving in there, but I still couldn’t feel it. Hearing you made all the difference, though, and I was finally able to relax a little bit. Daddy came in and held my hand while we waited for a nice, big kick. At last, I felt a whopper of a kick from you – my whole belly moved! I felt you wiggling all night long after that. It was such a relief to know that you really were just fine.

Luckily, because there wasn’t any damage and no risk of preterm labor, we all got to go home after only a couple of hours in the hospital. It was quite the adventure! But we got to see the very nice hospital where you will be born, meet some of the nurses and doctors, all of whom were very sweet, and best of all, we got to make sure that you were okay.

I truly believed, all along, that you would be safe. But I couldn’t completely quiet the little voice saying “what if?” in my mind. I think that’s all part of being a mom. That’s why you’ll see mothers soothing their children’s wounds and nursing their children’s illnesses with a calm, brave face, but then panicking inside or trying not to cry. We know that, most likely, you’ll be fine, but we can’t help being at least a little nervous. The idea of you being scared or hurt and not being able to help is absolutely terrifying, and I got my very first taste of that the other night.

It’s all part of life – we fall down, we break bones, we get sick, we have accidents, and we do stupid things that result in bad outcomes. And we all usually come out of it just fine, sometimes better than before. We’re supposed to experience things that hurt, are unpleasant, and are frustrating to try and recover from – not only do these experiences allow us to grow, they also teach us compassion for others dealing with the same things.

That said, you will wash your hands and you will not climb onto the roof. Just because we’re supposed to have those experiences does not mean we have to seek them out!


But…are you the map?

Dear Tiny Baby, 

Mommy is a big fan of interactive, educational television, as we have discussed. However, there are some interactive, educational television shows that we are going to be avoiding like the plague. No, not like the plague, since we can probably cure the plague these days. We’re going to avoid those shows like they are very sensitive bombs that could explode at the touch of a button. No, not even that – we could probably get the guys from The Hurt Locker to take care of bombs. Okay. We are going to avoid them like giant planets hurtling towards the Earth, Melancholia-style.

One of those shows is Dora the Explorer.

Mommy watched one single episode of that show today and she almost went crazy. I wrote down my observations as the episode aired. Please take the time to read them and ask yourself, “Do I want to subject Mommy to this?”

(Hint: the answer is “no”. If you want to learn Spanish that badly, we’ll find an alternative solution.)

One Woman’s Descent into Madness – the Dora the Explorer Edition

10:30: The show begins. Cute enough theme song. Should be fine.

10:31: Why does Dora keep flinging her arms up like she’s always saying, “Sooooo big”?

10:32: Dora, I can’t help you wind the crank. Not until you ask without yelling at me. Also, “You popped out too soon”? That’s what she said.

10:33: Long pause count: 5.

10:34: They shortened the “I’m the Map” song…merciful heavens, thank you.

10:35: Okay, every character on this show is way too enthusiastic. It’s okay to just be moderately excited about something. You don’t have to act like you won the lottery just because you figured out how to wind a jack-in-the-box.


10:37: Long pause count: 11.

10:38: Okay, I actually kind of like Swiper. He’s the most easily-deterred thief ever. Wouldn’t it be great if we could say stuff like “Murderer, no murdering!” and “Dictator, no dictating!” and fix the world?

10:39: …why is there a Russian doll blocking the way? Though I must admit, the background music is kind of awesome in a “Robin Hood” kind of way.

10:40: Long pause count: 16.

10:41: No. I don’t see anyone who could give us a ride. Just the car in the street you are standing right in the middle of. Good example for the kiddies, Dora.

10:42: Dora, maybe instead of asking us to keep an eye on the road for you, you could…you know…face forward and see the potholes yourself.

10:43: The gigantic piano is completely freaking me out. That’s pretty much all I have to say about that.

10:44: I think it’s Dora’s vacant eyes that are the most unnerving part of this show.

10:45: Long pause count: 23.

10:46: Long pause count: 26. Yup, three in one minute.

10:47: Dora, we already established that we’re going to your house and that we’re really enthusiastic about it. Kids have short attention spans, but they aren’t goldfish. Give them a little credit.

10:48: Dora. Stop yelling at me. My hearing isn’t great, but it’s not broken.

10:49: Dora has twin siblings? Her poor mom…once they start talking, they’ll all be yelling at her to sing with them.

10:50: The babies don’t blink unless they turn their heads. It’s going to be a long, hard road for them.

10:51: These babies actually say “goo-goo, ga-ga”.

10:52: We’re actually going to sing about how we helped you accomplish approximately nothing while you yelled at us, Dora?

10:53: Long pause count: 31. Show’s over. I’ll just be bashing my head against the wall for the next ten minutes to try and make the echoes of Dora’s yelling go away.

So you see, my little Tomato, Dora the Explorer may be fine for some families. Plenty of kids love the show and plenty of parents are just fine with it. Mommy is not. This is because Dora makes Mommy’s hair stand up on the back of her neck, much like the sound of nails on a chalkboard or that zipping sound when you open a package of string cheese really quickly. It’s just…not pleasant.

But you can watch all the Little Einsteins you like. Mainly because Mommy actually really likes that show.


You Weight

Dear Tiny Baby,

Mommy would just like to extend a thank-you for allowing her to be at the heaviest weight of her life and just look pregnant instead of fat. There is also a thank-you owed for the fact that no one gives me the side-eye anymore when I get a third helping of anything. Mucho appreciation, my little one.


You’re a boy!

Dear Tiny Baby,

You’ve probably had at least some  inkling of this for a while now, but Mommy and Daddy only just found out that you are a little BOY! We are so excited about this. You are the first of the grandchildren on Daddy’s side to be a boy, and everyone is just thrilled that there will be a young man in the family.

We had a party to celebrate you, where everyone took a guess as to whether you were a boy or girl. When we revealed that you were a boy, there was cheering, hugging, and so much joy. I wish you could have seen it! We have plenty of pictures that we will show you someday.

Mommy wore a t-shirt with your name printed across the belly. I hope you like the name we have chosen for you – Ethan Jeffrey. Daddy came up with it, and we think it will be just perfect for you.

We love you so much, Ethan.


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