Wednesday, January 16, 2008
I was interviewed on the Gab Blog today about being a mother. I have to say, I want to be all I cracked myself up to be, but in the spirit of full disclosure I'll admit to a few super blunders I made in the 1970's. You deserve to see both sides.
I drove my babies around without car seats. I held them (and nursed them) in the front seat when Dee drove 80 miles round trip to my folks' every week. If I was alone I often laid them on the front seat (they were bench seats in those days) next to me with no restraint at all! I did this from the time they were a week old!
VW, in a bassinet like this one. Gabi was two and sat on my lap. Later, as toddlers, my kids stood in the middle of the front seat. In this world of car seats, it's hard to imagine being so irresponsible.
My pediatrician prescribed paregoric for just about everything: teething, earaches, upset stomachs, you name it. I had taken this horrible, licorice tasting medicine as a child, and I gave it to my kids routinely. The doctor even suggested giving an aspirin along with it to help a sick child sleep. He called it a soothing syrup. It is made from laudanum, which is a form of opium! I remember being very upset when I couldn't get a prescription for this any more, and I hoarded the last few spoonfuls I had left. I had no idea what this medication really was. I don't think anybody did.
A neat trick to entice a baby to take a pacifier was to coat it with honey. It never worked for me, and I never had a kid with a binky, but it was not for lack of trying. All seven kids were given massive doses of honey from the time they were born.
And then there was the matter of discipline. A time out was the boring part of a football game, and had nothing to do with children. I was a spanker. Usually it was just a whack on the bottom with my hand, but the wooden spoon was available as necessary. Just the rattle of the drawer where it was kept was a deterrent to bad behavior. "Spare the rod, spoil the child" was a proverb I believed, and my kids all have stories to prove it.
In those days all babies slept on their tummies. My mom told the story of a babysitter who put my brother on his back when he was tiny. He spit up, and choked on it. By the time she found him, he was blue. She grabbed him and ran next door to her parents. The jostling must have worked like CPR because he began breathing again, and was just fine, but it was a reminder that babies should NEVER be laid on their backs. It's still hard for me to adapt to this change. I'm always happy when a grandbaby learns to roll over, because then it's up to them if they sleep on their stomachs or not.
I made zillions of mistakes with my kids. I yelled, and cried, I hovered and neglected (sometimes I did all these things on the same afternoon.) I let my daughter suffer with a broken arm for a week before I realized she needed to see a doctor, but often insisted on unnecessary antibiotics hoping to keep the kids from getting sick. I prayed for more babies, but resented the fact that they invaded my whole life. I was fulfilled and bored, devoted and cross, annoyed and enchanted.
So, when you read all my marvelous mommy tips, remember that they are in retrospect. It's easier to talk a good game after the fact, than to be on the field getting tackled. Someone once said, "Adults produce children, and then children produce adults." Mine produced a philosopher.