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My Truth About Motherhood: I am not a natural with kids.

by Deborah Cruz

Today, the wonderfully snarkalicious Ilana of Mommy Shorts is stopping by the TRUTH about Motherhood and sharing her Truth About Motherhood. I am thrilled to have her.”I am exhausted. Yet, somehow I do not capitalize on the hours I have to sleep. I have an adorable baby. Who will challenge your baby to a cuteness contest. Where they will automatically tie. Because pitting babies against each other is totally NOT COOL. I also have a husband. Whom I love slightly more than my computer. But slightly less than ice cream.”  If you are not already a follower of Mommyshorts you should definitely check her out. She will keep you laughing with her honest and witty take on life,entertainment, photos and babies.

My Truth about Motherhood~I'm not a natural with kids,moms, motherhood, women, family,husband parents, baby, truth, www.motherhoodthetruth.com

Prior to having a baby of my own, I honestly had no idea what to do around children. And even worse, I was terrified they all could tell. Like I was wearing a t-shirt with the words “You Make Me Feel Uncomfortable” emblazoned across the front. (And yes, in my not-so-good-with-children head, even a two-year-old can read.)

When I was around newborns, all I envisioned was some sort of horrific accident of which I would be solely responsible.  If a friend handed me their new baby (because everyone assumes you want to hold their baby, right?), I would look at that mother with eyes that said, “You do realize I will drop your child/fall down this flight of stairs/unintentionally throw the baby off the balcony, right?”

If I was around a toddler, I had a hard time feigning excitement for the things they wanted to talk about or play with.  Two minutes into stacking a ring toy or organizing some blocks and my eyes would glaze over with a “When Will This Be Over?” sheen.

Being around older kids (let’s say 5-10) was the worst. I felt this weird desire for them to classify me as “cool” and would thus fall back on my “cool default” behavioral mode— slightly aloof and detached. Not exactly a frame of mind that’s gonna win any points with a seven-year-old.

My husband, however, is a different story. He is excellent with kids. They flock to him like a bagel floating in a duck pond. I have watched him time and time again, win over children by coming down to their level and acting interested in their activities. It is not something I can copy. And believe me, I have tried.

After much study and reflection, I think it might have something to do with my husband ACTUALLY being interested in the kids and GENUINELY enjoying himself. Hmph.

One of the reasons I married him was because I thought he was my only shot at raising well-adjusted children. I figured his talents would balance out my deficiencies.

Well. When we had our first child, I was in for a shock. Because although my husband is excellent with walking, talking, passing and throwing little tots, he had absolutely no idea what to do with a baby.

But luckily, much to both of our amazement— I, the non-mother-material poster child, suddenly saw things clearly.

My job was not about entertaining the baby or getting the baby to like me, it was about KEEPING HER ALIVE.

THAT, I could figure out.  Changing diapers, bathing her, feeding her, scheduling nap times and putting her to bed. These tasks may not be fun but they are an easy-to-follow step-by-step roadmap for building a relationship with your child.

That first few months I learned that mothers aren’t first and foremost their child’s friend. They are their child’s provider. And the most important thing is not to be perceived as cool or fun or entertaining. It is to be caring, loving and comforting.

All I had to do was keep her close and safe.

Now that might seem obvious to some. But it was not to me. My biggest truth in motherhood is that even if I’m terrible with kids in general (which hasn’t changed), when it comes to my 16-month-old baby girl, I can still be a damn good mom.



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JD 2011/05/11 - 7:25 am

What an excellent post. I met Ilana briefly at BBCBOS over drinks in the hotel bar on Saturday. Wish we got to talk more because man oh man, can I empathize with this, but in an opposite way. Pre-my own kids, I was that bagel in the pond. Seagulls galore. Kids adored me and i adored everything about being with them. Now? I find many of the things my own kids want me to do incredibly, well, dull. I don’t want to be the mean fairy to their princesses. I detest Candyland. I don’t find every scribble on scrap paper worthy of MOMA. I do adore my kids and there is plenty I do love doing with them. It’s just been a bit of a shock that I feel less enthusiastic about being that bagel. And more, well, smothered.
Great blog. Looking forward to reading more!

Truthful Mommy 2011/05/11 - 1:54 pm

Honestly, I really think we were all sold something different than what we actually expected:) The books never give you the whole truth about parenthood, its all unicorns and rainbows and thats just not reality. It’s hard and its dirty but that’s also part of what makes it so magnificent…on most days:)

Ilana rocks. She tells it like it is and I love that about her!

Ilana 2011/05/12 - 2:20 am

JD— It was so nice to meet you over the weekend. I wish we had been able to talk longer! It’s nice to know that even people who are “good with kids” suck at playing with their own. And judging by how I feel after my daughter makes me read a five page book ten times, I can only imagine the intense boredom that occurs when repeating an entire game of Candyland.

Heidi 2011/05/11 - 8:22 am

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times, we were obviously separated at birth. What a great post. Of course I’m only speaking as an outsider, but I’m sure many women feel like this. I think your conclusion that first and foremost you are your child’s provider, and it isn’t all about getting her to like you, is a very wise one. Well done, Ilana.

Ilana 2011/05/12 - 2:22 am

Heidi— this why I will not raise Lindsey Lohan. Wasn’t that Dina’s mistake? And yes, the similarities between us are frightening. Thanks for hopping over here to read my post— can’t wait to read yours!

Alison@Mama Wants This 2011/05/11 - 9:12 am

Every time I read Ilana’s posts, I want to go over and hug her and shout “Me too! Me too!”

Even now, with a 16 month old toddler, I still feel slightly uncomfortable around other people’s kids, especially the ones who can talk. I feel obliged to have a conversation with them, and it never ends well. Never.

Truthful Mommy 2011/05/11 - 2:03 pm

Awww, *hugs* this is a feel your way kind of job ( motherhood) . I think we eventually grow into our comfort zone and do whats comfortable for us and then kids( liek dogs) can sense fear. Once we feel more comfortable around them ,they are at ease with us and so on and so forth. Don’t worry about talking to those kids, one day you actually may or may not want to..but don’t feel obliged:) AS long as you are comfortable with your own child, its all good!

Ilana 2011/05/12 - 2:24 am

Alison— I find myself over compensating with enthusiasm lately with kids. And then not knowing how to end things. I’m terrible.

I would totally hug you if I was in Malaysia:)

Emily 2013/06/08 - 12:17 am

Very nice job with the post. A lot people would look at the idea that way for sure and entirely agree with your idea.

Galit Breen 2011/05/11 - 11:44 am

Ilana, Oh honey- I get this! I *so* get this! My husband is the baby whisperer and I’m more like the baby…freaker-outer?

Excellent post, excellent truths! XO

Deb, fabulous choice! XO

Truthful Mommy 2011/05/11 - 1:48 pm

I think all couples have a whisperer and a freak outer:) My husband is the freak outer,I;m the whisperer but sometimes the whisper builds to an all out roar!
I am humbled by the truths this amazing community has shared in their posts. It makes me so happy because its exactly what I’ve always meant for my blog…sisterhood through motherhood. A place to come and share and feel accepted and loved. Honest conversation between women, sharing a common experience. It’s awesome.

Ilana 2011/05/12 - 2:26 am

My husband is actually not the greatest with babies. But he is AWESOME with kids. You should have seen the excitement in his eyes when she picked up a football last weekend.

Varda (SquashedMom) 2011/05/11 - 11:57 am

Ilana, you are as awesome in “print” (screen?) as you are in person. Your kid is so going to benefit from having parents with complementary strengths and weaknesses. Also it will be interesting to see how your interest in and tolerance of kid-ness evolves as your own kid(s) grow older. I am currently finding 8 year olds a bit baffling, but trying to figure it out and go with the flow.

Truthful Mommy 2011/05/11 - 1:44 pm

It is certainly a learn as you go, on the job training sort of position, right?LOL All we can do is our best and love unconditionally and the rest will fall into place.

Ilana 2011/05/12 - 2:28 am

I think I am okay with kids that are the same age as mine. Not great. But not a disaster. Eight year-olds sound TERRIFYING. So nice to see you this past weekend!

MommaKiss 2011/05/11 - 12:50 pm

Every day my kids wake up still alive? I’m thankful I’ve done my job. I’ve got low expectations, obviously.

Love your tips about playing outside, too – on your blog. If I could comment there, I would. I’m such a whiner!

Debi – you have awesome posts up this week (as always).

Truthful Mommy 2011/05/11 - 1:43 pm

I love Ilana’s honesty in this post.I know its hard to admit that we are not all naturally maternal. But it’s that even thoughttps://motherhoodthetruth.com/wp-admin/edit-comments.php#comments-formh it may not come as naturally as we may have expected, our love supersedes our inadequacy:)

And yes, I am having amazing bloggers all month long. I just wanted to share some amazing women ,who inspire me in this community with each other! I love my Truth about Motherhood community! Great, dynamic group of women.

Ilana 2011/05/12 - 2:32 am

Why can’t you comment on my blog??? Glad you liked the tips. Dr. B takes reader submitted questions every wednesday— feel free to submit one.

As far as expectations, I’m a bit of a perfectionist. I have to work on that. It’s not doing anybody any favors.

Yuliya 2011/05/11 - 3:55 pm

Fantastic! I felt the exact same way about kids and am so glad I’m not the only one!

Ilana 2011/05/12 - 2:33 am

Thanks for reading Yuliya! Glad you can relate.

Dawn 2011/05/11 - 4:29 pm

“…like a bagel floating in a duck pond…” Oh my goodness, that imagery is seriously laugh out loud funny! Even as they handed me my third child, a daughter who has become “mini me” I was panicked. I wasn’t sure if I would remember to hold her right and what the heck was I thinking – – I’m no good at this stuff! 2 1/2 years later I’m pleased to say she is still alive and well!!!!

Ilana 2011/05/12 - 2:34 am

Alive is everything, isn’t it? We are thinking about a second and the thought of going through all that beginning stuff again is enough to make me lose my mind!

XLMIC 2011/05/11 - 4:57 pm

Your ‘Truth’ is always so refreshingly honest… lol.

I was good with kids out of diapers before I had kids. If they could wipe their own butts… we were good. I was so afraid to go home with my oldest child after his birth that I finagled an extra couple of days in the hospital to avoid being alone with The Baby. And after a week, I felt like a pro! Such a steep learning curve!

Ilana 2011/05/12 - 2:38 am

Spending that first night in the hospital alone with the baby was the steepest learning curve ever. I had the baby at 6:30pm and my husband had to leave by 10pm I think. They didn’t allow people to stay over. He came back in the morning and was like— WHO ARE YOU? I had it down. When you are alone, and kid’s LIFE DEPENDS ON IT, you figure it out!

Jo Chivers 2011/05/11 - 6:05 pm

I have a 7 year old and a 3 year old and kids still terrify me. The week I’m guest reader for my daughter’s class I spend hours pouring through books and practicing my presentation and I still wake up in a cold sweat the morning of the event.

Ilana 2011/05/12 - 2:39 am

I am terrible at public speaking. I sincerely hope that doesn’t transfer over to kindergarten classes. I don’t need the pressure!

Isaac 2013/06/07 - 5:53 pm

i was just browsing along and came upon your web site. just wantd to say fantastic job and this post genuinely helped me.

Lauren 2011/05/11 - 9:09 pm

Oh don’t feel bad, Ilana.
In my 20s, I was in an elevator with a friend and his 2-year-old nephew, and I must’ve backed away so far into the corner that my friend said, “He’s not a BOMB, Lauren!”
So, you think it would be better now that I have a child, but I was recently Skyping with my 8-year-old niece, who was giving me one-word-answers. Then she said, “Aunt Lauren? I have a question for you!” So I was so excited, thinking we were going to bond, and she said, “Where’s Uncle Mike?”

Ilana 2011/05/12 - 2:42 am

That’s hilarious! That would so be me. It’s the worst for people who are really trying but just don’t know how to make a connection. Sigh.

on the job training 2011/05/13 - 3:23 pm

That is so true, I always feel so nervouse with jobs that involve taking care of infants.

Ninja Mom 2011/05/14 - 10:25 pm

Thanks for saying what I was feeling when I brought home my first, until she got colic and snapped me out of it. It was like she was wailing, “Like you? I just want to stop crying, twit. Now rock me. ROCK ME!”

The Culture Mom 2011/05/15 - 12:38 am

Ilana, you speak from the heart and seem to reveal all my internal thoughts. I have never felt like a natural mother, and my husband’s more natural parenting has puzzled me, too. I’ll never forget when my mom left me alone with my newborn after staying for 3 weeks. I was petrified. I bumped her head bathing her. I breastfed for hours, not knowing when she was satiated. It was all so hard. But I found my groove. We started doing mommy and me yoga. We went out and did things, and I loved being with her. When it was time to go back to work, I couldn’t stand the separation. After I quit my job, I realized I wasn’t meant to be a fulltime mom but I need the balance. I’ve been a freaking yo yo ever since I had kids.


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