by cindy

Now that I’ve successfully returned from Oz and have caught up on all those essentials in my life (two books, three trips to the wine and spirits store, and lots of sleep), it’s time, perhaps, for a bit of reflection (no, not of Oz. You’re welcome.), reflection on the newest member of our family: the Peanut.

In January, while in the midst of designing set pieces and fretting over some costume issues, I was able to take a lovely break from all the Oz-xiety (cute, huh?) by spending several days in Chicago with the Peanut and her parents. Ostensibly, I was there to assist the parents with the newness of parenting. And why not, I ask? I raised three kids of my own and they survived, right? It was touch-and-go sometimes, but they’re the stronger for it, I say.

Well, lots of things have changed since I was a young mother (or young anything for that matter). And yes, while I am familiar with many of the changes thanks to our proximity to the Rooster, there is still quite a distance between the professional recommendations of today and the age-old, mother-tested wisdom of the past. No need to tell you which side of that equation I’m on, eh?

Fortunately, I had five whole days to share my insights and I made the most of Parenting: The Care of Infants, Part One by Bob. My multiple gems of wisdom were graciously greeted by smiles, patient smiles. Maybe some gritting of teeth by Day 3, but no matter. The parents were a captive audience!

One particular pearl of  wisdom was straight from my own mother: “Let sleeping babies lie.” Which was closely followed by another family-tested gem: “If  she’s sleeping a lot during the day and fussy all night, wake her up during the day so she can fuss then.” No contradiction there. And of course there was the equally impressive “Let sleeping babies cry” but that was after a glass or two of wine.

In addition to dispensing sage advice, I was an eager and seasoned helper. For example, having painted a few canvases in my time, my presence was invaluable as my son painted the accent wall in the nursery. I was right on top of things by eagerly pointing out the spots he was missing. Son Number One felt my talents were underserved so he dispatched me to help elsewhere.

So, in the next room, I assisted my daughter-in-law who was giving the Peanut her first tub bath. This involved sitting the baby in a mesh sling in the partially-filled bathtub. Since the water level didn’t quite make it up past her sweet little toes, it was my job to gently and continually pour warm water over her chest and body so she wouldn’t get chilled. This was a job I could do! And I did it well. Until I misjudged the distance and poured the water over her head. Once! I only did it once! And she was fine. Really. Sheesh. After that I dispatched myself elsewhere.

January 2012

In my continuing efforts to dispense wisdom and advice, I took them on many, many trips down Memory Lane, which is just where all thirty-somethings love to go. They love to hear how things were done when they were babies:

“You kids all slept on your tummies and were happier for it”, which of course conflicted with “You were such a fussy baby. Really fussy. I thought you’d never sleep though the night. To be honest, you just never slept at all!”


“Oh the things you parents have now! We never had baby monitors. It’s no wonder my knees are being replaced, what will all the walking back and forth to listen for you to wake up!” (Note, more conflict with the previous statement. How unusual. Hmmm.)


“The one thing I really wish I had when you were a baby was one of those noise machines. I could use one myself, you know. Of course, your father is a perpetual noise machine but his sounds are far from soothing…”

Oh, yes. I know what you’re thinking. I am that mother-mother-in-law.


There is one person in this story who is too little to tell the other side of this tale. While I was happy to “help” the parents, it was the Peanut that I came to see. And see her I did. And hold her, I did. And as often as I could, I whispered into her little ear, “I love you, I love you, I love you.”

It will be quite a while before I see her again. And when that time comes, she will probably no longer care to nap against my chest, surrounded by my arms. Somewhere, though, I hope those words will register in her thoughts when she hears me whisper, again, “I love you, I love you, I love you.”

I love you, Peanut.