Monthly Archives: June 2008

Mommy Friends

Remember when you were eight years old and it was generally assumed by your parents that you would get along swimmingly with another child purely based on the fact that you were both 8 and 1/2??? Recall how these age-related arranged friendships, while sometimes resulting in a true meeting of the minds, all too often quickly devolved into arguing about whose turn it was, who was cheating, and sometimes even a good old fashioned physical altercation?

So often, I hear people saying how being a new mother must facilitate making loads of new friends. And yes, having the common connection of motherhood has no doubt opened the door for meeting many interesting other women and mothers. HOWEVER, there is also this weird unspoken pressure (and also awkwardness) that you are just supposed to be compatible friends sheerly because of the mommy connection.

I find this totally bizarre. In Milan, I was less aware of it due to the expat situation already having its own assumptions about becoming friends (even if superficially) based on the commonality of being away from home. But back here in NYC, it often cracks me up how people assume that being a mother instantly catapults all women into the same file. You are a hardcore conservative with a penchant for stamp collecting??? No problem!!! Let’s be best friends!! You used to be a high-class prostitute and have settled down?? Can we start a playgroup!!!

No, but seriously. There have been many times when the mommy factor is just not enough. Maybe there is something about mothers needing new shallower types of friendships because they need to devote more energy to the home??  Maybe??

But maybe the idea is more imposed, like when we were 8.

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Makes me want a girl…

Italian children’s clothing company Minimu is another great example of Italian designers rebelling against the traditional stuffy, itchy, scratchy baby style so often found inside Italian prams. Soft colors, gentle, natural fabrics, and shapes that I wish they made in mommy sizes! Just one question… where are the little boy’s digs???

The Accidental Attachment Parent

Though not mentioned in this blog, the months leading up to the birth of my son were so often for me, a quest to funnel all of my nervous energy about becoming a parent into the seemingly noble search for the *perfect* parenting approach. I read all Dr. Sears and the Baby Whisperer had to offer, checked out message boards about ferberizing vs. the joys of sharing sleep, trying to decide and develop my whole, pure, parenting method in advance.

I visited a friend whose diehard, toddler-breastfeeding attachment, if you will, to attachment parenting really freaked me out. I was only 4 months pregnant and I cringed with fearful anticipation as I saw my friend as a parent for the first time. Her life seemed grossly imbalanced and lacking in any sort of adult stimulus. She called herself an attachment parent. I was mortified. While I had not found the perfect method of parenting in a book, I was certain I had found what not to do. To me, attachment parenting became a bad word, a word meaning total loss of identity, social life, and marital pleasure.

The baby needed to fostered into independence. He needed to sleep in his own crib. I needed to breastfeed, but only as long as was necessary, and then I would make the transition …I needed to get back to work.

Then I had the baby. I gently laid him down in his crib, hushing him into sleep. I hushed and hushed and cooed and sang songs I never thought I would sing. After 2 hours of cycling through my new mommie repertoire of calming antics, Nikos finally drifted into a passable form of sleep. I crept back into my bed and thumped my exhausted head against my own pillow. As if my presence in my own bed tripped an alarm in his, baby boy started to freak. The cycle began again, and by 6 am, I had plucked the angry little baby from his bed and did what I had been told not to (and what I had vowed not to do). I carefully curled him in my arms, and fed him in my bed. We both fell asleep and slept for hours, blissfully uninterrupted.

That was the beginning of my accidental attachment parenting. I realize that most things are better when intentional, but I found my way to attachment parenting (nearly all aspects) by accident. Nikos has been a great sleeper ever since, and is one of the happiest babies I have ever witnessed (and he is no angel baby by nature– but we have found out how to be supportive of his needs and he responds amazingly)… and I am thoroughly satisfied with my life as an adult, a wife, a mother, and an individual. Have any of you similarly stumbled upon your method of being a parent?

Back to the blog…

After a 6 month hiatus here at expectant expat, we are back. Not only back to the blog, but back to our home base in Brooklyn, NY. It took some time to get moved back into our NYC home (no worries, I am sure we will soon be expats again– my husband still has the job abroad, and this stint at home is only for a year or so while we work out some kinks). So while I am back to being a native, on many levels I am still functioning quite like an expat.

I am going to try to keep explanatory posts like this to a minimum, but just to recap the past 6 months, Nikos is now nearly 9 mos. old, says dadadadadadadada (both to his father, and to the fan, the mobile, and his toys), mama when he is upset, baba and wawa, and is perpetually crawling around showing signs of a very mischievous boy to come…