Thursday, May 19, 2011

During Jamie & Celia's maternity leave we asked a few of our favorite moms from around the internet if they would help fill the space with their wisdom. We asked for their thoughts on being a new mom, motherhood in general, or maybe something that really surprised them (no one told me that!). Please welcome Peonies & Polaroids!

There are a tonne of things that nobody told me to expect about motherhood:

that for the first few weeks it sucks. Really hard;
that my husband would take to parenting much more naturally than I would;
that I would find baby poop endlessly fascinating.

But the thing that shook me the most, that I found the most unexpected, was that babies, those brand new, completely unformed, totally pliable little things come out as people. Real people. With personalities. Personalities just as formed and determined and completely un-pliable as any other (fully-grown) human you might meet and that it takes just as much time, real time, to get to know them. And that this is true for both parents. Carrying a baby for nine months doesn't do one single thing to help you in this situation.

I was under the impression that babies were born a blank canvas, that nurture rather than nature determined who they would grow into and that they would develop personalities over time, allowing their parents not only to gradually get used to who they are but to shape who they are too. I thought that they might have their quirks but being their mother I would instinctively recognize and understand them. Uh, no. Definitely not.

It took me just as long for me as it did for my husband to stop feeling like our babies were complete strangers to us, to stop comparing them to exchange students that had suddenly appeared in our house. Angry, high maintenance exchange students who needed every. single. thing done for them and who spoke a language neither of us understood.

If having two babies at once teaches you anything (other than that the world won't end if you don't wipe up all of the vomit all of the time) it's that your influence doesn't determine quite as much as you might think. Ella is independent, confident and greets every new development in her skills with gusto. There are times when Ella will scream until you just leave her the hell alone so she can stare at her toes in solitude. Amelia not so much. Amelia is wary, she dislikes change and she is slightly freaked out by the discovery that she has feet. She needs a little more reassurance, a little more encouragement, she needs to know that we are right there. And they have been like that since the very beginning.

Babies. You need to get to know them. Starting a relationship with your children is just like starting a relationship with anyone else (except it's a shitload harder to get out of if you decide you want to bail). Nobody told me to expect that.


  1. great post! as a soon-to-be mom i had not fully pondered this thought - getting to know your baby - thank you for bringing it to my attention!

  2. As a long time follower and admirer of Ms. Peonies, I'm not surprised at how much I love this post and how truly she's spoken. And just LOOK at that adorable family!

  3. xoxoxox.

    Also true.

    Also I love these photos.

  4. This had also never occured to me. Filing for September.

  5. so wonderful and so true!

  6. LOVE LOVE LOVE! Honestly I don't have children and don't know if I will but have loved every guest posting because it isn't full of the BS society says will happen but is full of honesty and I thank each writer for having some major balls and stepping up to the plate to write from the heart. I think that it is going to help soooo many woman out who currently feel guilty they don't feel "X, Y, Z" prescribed emotion and help them realize they are normal and are not alone. Thank you!!

  7. I love the idea of babies as angry high maintenance exchange students. What a great image.

    As ever Cara, beautiful x

  8. This is so true. Just starting to understand my 5 month old and see how unique she truly is.

  9. Wee baby personalities - you're making my ovaries hurt.

    <3 this family. And your photos make me smile so big.

  10. such a great interview and those pictures are lovely!

  11. Writing this as a conclusion to just having read all the previous guest posts. As a new(ish) mother of a 5 month old as well as an almost-two-year-old, the last few posts have made me smile, laugh and CRY... Such truth, so eloquently put - my sleep-deprived brain could never have conjured up these words but reading them has provided so much relief that I am indeed - NOT ALONE. Thank you is all I will (and can at this stage) say. Thank you so much x