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Not In the Baby Books

Ten Things The Baby Books Miss

By Chris Jordan

The front door opens and shuts. In walks my teenage son.

Uh, Mom?
I crashed the car.

I turned to my friend.

You know? There isn’t a place for this in the baby book.


In my recent quest for more logical home organization, I came across all the kids’ baby books. I flipped through one and read all the writing prompts and places to record significant events, most of which were left blank, and thought the writers of these books have missed the mark. Maybe that is why blogging is so appealing to so many new mothers. Recording the things that usually have no place. The things that don’t make the book, the yearly Christmas cards, or photos, but the things that make up the bulk of life.

And in that spirit, I came up with Ten First Things the Baby Book Should Have, But Does Not:

1) First time you wake up covered in your child’s vomit.

Sadly,yes, there will be more times. As I was writing this my kids and I went through all the vomit stories we remembered. Wow, there is a lot of them. This could use a whole chapter of its own.

2) First time your child tells you that they hate you.

My daughter was five the first time she told me she hated me and she chose to do so by note. Unfortunately, she was still learning about phonics and wrote, “I HAT YOU.” This lead to me asking if she was planning on giving me a hat. This enraged her to the point that she tore up the note and stormed off. Luckily I had the presence of mind to take a photo of the note before she tore it up.

3) First time you seriously consider running away.

Alone. And why you chose not to. It’s perfectly okay if your sole reason at the time is that it was just too much effort.

4) First time you look at your post children body in the mirror.

It is a lot like reliving the traumatic event of your childhood of seeing your grandmother naked when she changed out of her bathing suit in the locker room of the YMCA pool. Only now it is a new trauma because you realize that the body you remember is now yours.

5) Related, there should be a place to write the date the first time someone told you they didn’t mind their post-children body because their children were worth it and you felt like punching them in the face.

Do we really have to articulate that? Do we? Also, there should probably be a space for those people who actually do follow through and punch the person in the face. You know, just a little place to put a copy of the police report and mugshot.

6) First time you are the victim of a mothering drive-by.

That’s when a person feels compelled to point out what you are doing wrong and how you could fix that by doing it the right way, or their way. Often this is done in a backhanded way so that you are left with your mouth hanging open.

You would think that this ends as your children get older, but it doesn’t. I was recently told by someone that I really should think about making my 10 yr old son cut his hair because people might think he is a girl. This was immediately following the same person saying they allow their daughter to do whatever she wants with her hair, including cutting it short, because it is her body. Are boys not extended the same courtesy? The problem isn’t the conversation, or the differing opinion, the problem is the word should and all its unspoken implications.

7) First time you are the perpetrator of a mothering drive-by.

Oh, yes, we will all do them. Because sometimes we mean well. Because sometimes we are so sure that we have the answer that we cannot help but share. Because sometimes we are judgmental assholes. Yes, even me.

8) First time you realize what it means to reach your breaking point because you don’t cross over it. And simultaneously have empathy for those that do.

When my 15 yr old was a newborn and infant he had colic. Horrible, horrible colic. He would scream and cry for hours upon hours every single day. Nothing I did soothed him or calmed him. I am not sure you can adequately understand what it feels like to go through that, because even sitting here now, 15 years down the road, it is difficult for me to fully summon the emotions.

But I clearly remember one night sitting on the couch holding my screaming son. I had pulled him away from chest to change his position and I looked at his screaming face, a tiny little face red and contorted by his screams. I looked at him and felt… nothing. And at precisely that moment I understood how someone who is normally good, kind, loving, and rational, how that same person in this foggy, overwhelmed haze could be pushed to the point of doing something they would regret. I remember crying, not for me but for those other mothers.

9) First time you realize that you can not remember when the last time was you changed your clothes.

Along with the realization that personal hygiene has dropped so low on your list that you feel most assuredly it is an evolutionary trait designed to make you offensive enough to keep ANY SLIGHT, REMOTE chance of becoming pregnant again impossible.

10) First time your child comes home crying about someone being mean to them.

You will feel rage like you have never experienced before. And also heartbreak. Both your emotions will be completely disproportional with the actual act that has occurred and instead will carry the weight of all the times in your own life you have felt hurt, abused, or misunderstood.


11) First time your teenager says something so completely insane that you realize all teenagers are mentally unstable toddlers in bigger bodies.  And you have a new found appreciation for the fact that your own parents allowed you to survive to adulthood.

I know that there are more. So tell me, what firsts do you think the baby books miss?

Chris Jordan
About the Author

Chris Jordan

Chris Jordan began blogging at Notes From the Trenches in 2004 where she writes about her life raising her children in Austin, Texas.

Oh, she has seven of them. Yes, children. Yes, the...

Chris Jordan began blogging at Notes From the Trenches in 2004 where she writes about her life raising her children in Austin, Texas.

Oh, she has seven of them. Yes, children.
Yes, they are all hers.
No she’s not Catholic or Mormon. Though she wouldn’t mind having a sister-wife because holy hell the laundry never stops.
Yes, she finally figured out what causes it. That’s why her youngest is almost 6.
Yes, she has a television.

She enjoys referring to herself in the third person.

If you would like to submit a question for Chris to answer publicly, please do so to adviceforparentsoftweens[at]gmail[dot]com.

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  • Becky

    February 11, 2011 at 1:20 pm

    I love this! I’ve only been a mom for 2.5 months now but I’ve got one-first time you walk into work, take off your coat and realize you have spit up all over your left shoulder. Ah, classy 🙂 Great list!

  • Shannon W

    February 11, 2011 at 1:31 pm

    Great List! #8 takes a lot of guts to admit. As the mother of a 1st grade girl I can esp. relate to #’s 2 and 10.

  • Dawn K.

    February 11, 2011 at 1:38 pm

    YES to #8! I read a similar train of thought elsewhere (I think maybe Rita at surrenderdorothy?)-about understanding the point that people who shake their babies must reach (not condoning it, but merely understanding). It’s unfortunate the path those parents make in that snap moment, but, like you, I feel for the circumstances that push them to that point. I’ve been able to ‘forget’ the pain of childbirth, but just mention colic and I get all uncomfortable and itchy feeling. It takes me right back to those horrible nights that would end in tears because I just wanted my baby girl to SHUT UP already and I felt guilty and resentful and, hello yet again, my breaking point. I’m sure my neighbors secretly wondered why on some nights I was on my back patio sobbing, alone, with a beer in hand. My husband and I only endured 8 weeks; I have nothing but awe for parents who last longer than that.

  • suzie

    February 11, 2011 at 2:03 pm

    I hate the word “should.”  In all contexts, not just parenting. 

  • Julie

    February 11, 2011 at 2:43 pm

    Number 6. Oh gods, THIS! Exactly as it happened to you. Years of people telling me what a mean parent I am because my oldest son has long hair and how people will think he is a girl. Including being told this by someone who has a little girl with a shaved head. Stop with the freaking sexism! Also the newest one being my parents (and ONLY my parents) enraged at the name we chose for my youngest son, Lucifer. None of them are Christian. They understand that Lucifer was never the name of the devil (seriously, look it up. It’s the name for Venus and it was a translation issue with the King James version that makes people think otherwise). They listen when I tell them that NOBODY has ever had something cruel, shocked, or otherwise to say when they hear his name. They think the meaning (Lightbringer) is beautiful. And yet, all 4 of them refuse to call him by his name. Yes, because that totally won’t screw up a kid when they’re old enough to realize it’s happening. *headdesk*

  • Meg

    February 11, 2011 at 3:42 pm

    How about the first time you realize that you spent the entire day running around town with an inside out shirt and backwards yoga pants?

    Or how about the first time you do something that all the books and all the experts say you should absolutely positively never do because your baby seems to prefer it that way.  It leaves you feeling horribly guilty and thinking you are just a terrible parent until you talk to someone else and they say they have done the same thing.  

  • grammy

    February 11, 2011 at 4:44 pm

    Oh, my! What a flood of very old memories this brings back. Because these are timeless “firsts” that every generation has experienced. One I could add, but I’ve never heard any other mothers complain about:

    When your brilliant child so seriously wears you down during the day with “Why?” and all the accompanying questions. So much so that, after a day of answering everything like a good mommy should, you sit down after you put them to bed and weep for several minutes because you so nearly said, “Please SHUT UP for just five minutes!”

    My son talked early and never slowed, so by the time he was at the “why?” stage he had a significant vocabulary and never, ever stopped with the questions. That was forty years ago, and I still haven’t recovered from the sense of exhaustion and fear that if I distracted him or brushed him off I wasn’t giving him enough information.

  • tonuala

    February 11, 2011 at 8:43 pm

    How about the first time your toddler uses a swear word to address the puppy – because that’s what you’ve been calling the puppy each time it pees on the carpet?

  • adrian

    February 12, 2011 at 1:45 am

    Oh wow, #8 gets to me, because I have definitely stared at my screaming child and felt…nothing, then recoiled in horror at my apathy. I have nothing but the utmost respect for moms/dads that have endured real colic. We only dealt with it a couple of weeks, thank goodness, but it has left me shaken. Several months later, I’m still trying to find my confidence in myself as a mother.

  • Maggie

    February 12, 2011 at 11:40 am

    The first time you realize your teenager has thorougly deceived you into believing their false story.
    Also, I love the way you wrote #7.

  • meredith

    February 12, 2011 at 12:10 pm

    Like a few others, number 8 gets to me. I didn’t get there, but almost because of a baby with colic and reflux vomiting. There was a moment when I not so gently put her into her crib as she was screaming and dirty and just left her there while I went to take a hot shower…I knew I had to get away from her immediately. That moment left me understanding the breaking point of others.

  • Grace

    February 12, 2011 at 8:21 pm

    Wow, those take me back. I can totally understand #8, I was there and it terrified me so much to look at my beautiful daughter and feel … NOTHING…. I was terrified and had to walk away from her. After the terror passed at my lack of emotion or even thought, the horror stepped in at what “could have” happened. I still cringe when I remember that moment and internally horrified that I could have ever felt like that. Now, 10 and 8 years later I can totally relate to #10, I want to make some people’s heads roll every time my precious girls come in crying because of someone being mean to them. I laughed so hard at the “first time your child tells you they hate you one”. My youngest daughter was in a rage when she was about 4 because I would not let her have a candy bar for breakfast and she shouted out her fury that she HATTED me LOL….. I asked her what kind of hat she was gonna put on me and she turned on her heel so fast I thought she was gonna fall over before she ran to her room.

  • Jenn O'Reilly

    February 12, 2011 at 8:54 pm

    I read this once somewhere and it stayed with me because man I have BEEN there! You wake up in the middle of the night and realize your child’s diaper has leaked and you’re both lying in a pool of pee and you consider just leaving it because damn you are THAT tired. BEEN THERE!!

  • Beth

    February 12, 2011 at 8:54 pm

    How about the first time you hear your sweet child cursing you behind their door and you start cracking up because you used to do the exact same thing!!!! And then you realize your PARENTS must have laughed too! Ahh, the circle of life!

  • angie

    February 12, 2011 at 10:00 pm

    I had a reverse #8 …my child was colic..but each time she cried i coddled her even when she didnt want it 😛 (im partly deaf so it prolly helped) It bothered my hubby alot so he would tell me to plz hold her…lol paitience is a virtue…

  • jo

    February 13, 2011 at 6:17 pm

    How about the first time you lose it and scream and/or swear at your kid?  Or, maybe not everyone does that. 🙂

  • Rebecca

    February 14, 2011 at 11:37 am

    Oh yes, the hate note. My daughter was six. The first note said “I hate you” and when I responded by saying something like “I know you feel that way right now and I’m sorry you feel that way but it’s not going to make me say yes” she wandered off only to return with a new note that said “I mean it!”

  • Lindsay

    February 14, 2011 at 3:25 pm

    I’m pretty sure this list could probably qualify as the most effective birth control ever. 

  • Kim

    February 16, 2011 at 9:49 am

    The first time you go to work with your sweater inside out. And the second time.

  • monica

    February 16, 2011 at 12:13 pm

    This is so great! Some days I look in the mirror and am so repulsive that I wonder what on earth my husband must think when he comes home (more days than not) to that person. Eeek.

  • mary

    February 17, 2011 at 8:26 pm

    The first time you realize that YOU are the one walking down the street with bags in hand and your child barely in your grips (definitely not perched on your hip) and hanging halfway down your leg with all sorts of bare skin exposed to “the elements” and learn to never judge another mother again because not all babies are born like trunk hugging monkey babies.

  • Amy

    March 2, 2011 at 11:31 am

    the bonus made me remember an article from NPR about how the teenage brain works (or sometimes doesn’t):

  • Kate

    March 2, 2011 at 1:20 pm

    I can so relate to number 10. It was the one I was going to add until you wrote it so much better than I could think it. I remember it was the first time I actually saw a red haze around my thoughts. It was so strong that I was afraid of my emotions, and it was at that moment that I fully understood the debth of my love for my child. I still want to kick that woman in the shins 4 years later.

  • Gigi

    March 2, 2011 at 3:25 pm

    How about the first time you show up at your kids school in pajamas. Because you were just going to do a quick drop off. But were so late you actually had to walk the kids to their classrooms. In your pajamas. And fuzzy sleepers.

  • edj

    March 2, 2011 at 11:15 pm

    First time you hear your mother coming out of your mouth.
    First time you yell at your toddler.
    First time you really actually lose your temper and shout at your teenager.

  • Karate Mom

    March 3, 2011 at 7:52 am

    I think the thing that is sad (for lack of a better word) about #8 and the colic is that it is something that is SO UNIVERSALLY felt, yet so not talked about. I remember feeling like such a terrible mother when I was going through colic with my daughter, who is my first child, because of completely understanding how someone could do terrible things to their baby. And I WISH that I had heard moms talk about that because then I wouldn’t have felt so alone about it!

  • Lucinda Amerman

    March 4, 2011 at 11:01 am

    Oh yes, #8.  Been there.

    But the hate note!  My daughter drew me a picture with my head being chopped off and BOUNCING on the ground, complete with little lines to show the motion.  I laughed so hard she just got angrier.  I kept it and told her years from now when she was grown and called me about how awful her child was being to her, I would mail her this little note.  She said, “Mommy, that’s mean.”  I said, “Yes it is.” lol  I’m a terrible, terrible person.

    These other comments have had me laughing so hard because I’ve been there.  Great post!

  • MusingsfromMe/Jill

    March 4, 2011 at 6:22 pm

    1st projectile vomit incident
    1st baby boy spraying pee incident
    1st vomit inside laundry basket of clean laundry/mom’s purse/mom’s shoe