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Women Together - Rosh Hodesh 2 - "Mama-lings"

November 29, 2011

Tags: mothering, parenting advice

One delightful bonus of the 25th Rosh Hodesh reunion I traveled to last week was that as the weekend approached, many of us went searching through old files and the backs of drawers for memorabilia of our years together. One dear friend, a young member of the group who celebrated her marriage in our early years together, found the compilation of advice ("mama-lings" we called it) which we created as a gift after she gave birth to her son. She xeroxed each of our contributions and presented them to us at the reunion. I was fascinated reading what I wrote for her 20 years ago this month when I spoke as mother of a 13 year old and a 9 year old...

Mama-lings for Amy

1- Love counts for a lot. Children know when they are loved and that knowledge feeds them.

2- There are times when you are too tired or too empty to love them and that's OK. They will survive those suspensions of caring and be none the worse for them.

3- We used to call 5:00 in the afternoon "the witching hour" with our first-born - nothing helped, she just cried and we didn't know why and we never figured it out either. But you could set your clock by it. Children, even "easy ones," are ultimately mysterious.

4- Our second child was like that at completely random times.

5- Some children are demonstrative, others not. Learn not to take it personally if your child isn't a cuddler.

6- Frozen bagels help when they're teething.

7- Get in the habit of doing things with Phil that you really enjoy. Try not to get trapped into doing things with him because you think you're supposed to - if you like to snuggle and read to him, do it and don't feel bad that you stink at making up stories - or visa versa. In other words, make sure you're having a good time too.

8- Guild is destructive.

9- Underneath every really fabulous seeming mom - the kind who makes you feel bad about the job you're doing - is someone who is as imperfect as you are.

10- Children want and need structure - bedtime, naptime, mealtime. That advice was given to me when Lisa was a few months old and it encouraged me to ease her into a schedule - I thought that was crucial for her happiness (and (mine). This friend (you Ruthie!) also advised, "Fit the baby into your life - do what works for you - doing it the other way around will make you both crazy." She was right.

Finally, remember, this is the most difficult transition in any woman's life - taking responsibility for a new life. You're very fragile right now. Ask for as much help as you need, accept any help that comes your way, be very gentle and kind with yourself. Nothing has prepared you for this; everything has prepared you for this. Remember, each day, "whatever you decide, that's the better choice," and if some mistakes are mysteriously made, tomorrow is always a new day, especially for children.

Every day, bless the work of your hands, even though it's not finished.


  1. December 3, 2011 10:55 PM EST
    All of this is helpful, and I'm filing it away for when it's needed. But I think the last sentence says it best, and I'm trying to take that attitude with me into the daily struggles that have nothing to do with children.

    - Lisa
  2. December 19, 2011 9:43 AM EST

    Such golden wisdom, already 20 years ago!
    - erica