Becoming a mom for the first time was an experience that was simultaneously exciting and terrifying. The amount of training required before baby arrived was daunting. In addition to childbirth classes, (which, by the way, gave me the most frightening nightmares) there was also breastfeeding, first aid, and sleep training. To survive the first year, you must learn about Diapers! Swaddling! Burping! Crib Safety! Tummy Time! Board Books! Educational Toys! Immunizations! Developmental Milestones! Homemade Baby Food! The baby industry took me on a wild ride, one where I felt that if I didn’t have all of these things figured out before our son got here, he was toast. I mean, let’s be honest, they might as well rename those baby classes, “One hundred and seventeen ways you can accidentally scar your child for life.”
So my husband and I did what most first-time parents do. We took All. The. Classes. We read All. The. Books. We couldn’t have been more prepared. We made so many grown-up, real-deal, downright PARENTAL decisions. Our child would NOT use a pacifier. Our child would learn to self-soothe and be sleeping through the night as soon as possible. Our child would be exclusively breastfed for the first year. Our child would hit all his marks (and, let’s be honest, overachieve if possible)…sitting up, crawling, walking…he would be ON POINT.
So imagine our surprise when nothing went exactly as planned. Baby born by C-Section? Not part of the plan. Baby’s latch is causing a nipple massacre? Not part of the plan. BABY. WON’T. SLEEP. Definitely not part of the plan. I remember calling my Mom in tears, relaying to her how the lactation specialist said that in her 20 years on the job, she had never seen wounds worse than the ones my baby had given me. She called them WOUNDS, people! And she suggested I give him a pacifier. A PACIFIER!!! And that I pump and feed him from a bottle. A BOTTLE!!! Didn’t she know that the book said… And in that moment, my wise Mom (who raised 7 babies of her own) said one thing that stuck with me through life with all four of my babies…she said, “You know, your baby hasn’t read the book.”
Those first few months with our son were full of joys and difficulties, but in some ways, were made more difficult by the glut of information we had stuffed our brains with before he came. Many of our conversations about our son were filled with sentences that began, “But the book said…” Hmmmm. Maybe, just maybe, the baby hasn’t read the book. And so, as it is for most parents, my husband and I had to learn about flexibility. About listening to the wisdom of our gut and our baby and not always to the wisdom of the book. Our plans were out the window as we turned from trying to do everything perfectly to just trying to function. Our question went from, “What is the right way?” to, “What’s working for us?” And most of all, we had to learn to have grace with ourselves. We were doing our best, even if it sometimes felt like we were failing. And our kids somehow survived those first few years, despite our inability to do things by the book.
So, in this month of Moms, my picture book recommendation today is one that I am sending out to all the new parents out there. Your life has been turned upside down in ways you never imagined by a teeny tiny human being. This little peanut has captured your heart, but has also wreaked havoc on your household and has made you question yourself in about a bazillion ways. In THE BOSS BABY, the incomparable, two-time Caldecott Honor medalist, Marla Frazee, shows you that you are not alone. You thought you were in charge, but we all know the truth. Who’s in charge? THIS GUY:
THE BOSS BABY
Written and Illustrated By: Marla Frazee
Published By: Beach Lane Books, 2010
Synopsis: The boss baby is used to getting his way–drinks made to order 24/7, his private jet plane, and meetings around the clock. But when his demands aren’t getting proper responses, he has to go to new lengths to achieve the attention he deserves.
Opening: “From the moment the baby arrived, it was obvious that he was the boss. He put Mom and Dad on a round-the-clock schedule with no time off.”
Why I Love this Book: Marla Frazee is so talented and makes me fall in love with each book she has illustrated. She is amazing at communicating the emotions of real life…the joy and the frustration, all with a healthy dollop of humor. I do think this book can be more entertaining for parents than it is for kids. My kids will giggle with me at the infant wearing the suit-and-tie onesie, but much of the humor is geared toward the parents. I mean, what parent can’t relate to this?
Because of that, THE BOSS BABY has become my favorite baby shower gift. So, if you know someone who is about to have a baby, head out and buy THIS book for them. Because when it comes to life with a newborn, the baby hasn’t read the book, but they might just want to read this one.