Conversations with my mother


"Hey, so how'd Lily do today?" I ask.

"Great, she's always a lot of fun" my mom replies.

"How'd she eat today?"

A hesitation, followed by "What?"

"How much did she eat?" I repeat, thinking how odd it is that my mom should suddenly sound a little nervous.

"How did you know that she ate?"

Now I pause... "By the mostly empty bottle in the diaper bag."

"OH! Yes, she ate almost the whole bottle."

I wait for a moment... "Mom, what else did she eat?"

"Well, you see, I was eating some steamed carrots for lunch" mom's explanation is rushing at me, giving me no room to jump in, "and she was reaching for the carrots, so I gave her one to hold and she put it in her mouth and licked it and mashed it around and seemed to be having a really good time experiencing it, so I took one into the kitchen and mashed it up with some breast milk, because you told me that that's a good idea and I offered her just a little on the tip of a spoon and she tasted it and really liked it, so I gave her a little more and really, she had like a grand total of 1/2 a teaspoon, but she really seemed to like it a lot."

I give her a minute to catch her breath.

"OK, well at least you didn't give her a cookie." I realize that may sound a bit critical and add, "No, it sounds like you did great, you gave her a good first food and mixed the breast milk in with it and it sounds like she did respond well. Just make sure you tell me about this stuff so I know what it means if she has a reaction."

"I didn't know how you'd feel about it..." She adds.

"It's OK, you did fine. I'm not mad." And the truth is, I'm not mad. I've been listening to all these other moms talking about their parents and in-laws and how amazingly disrespectful they are of their wishes and parenting choices. When you look at it, Mark and I have chosen to parent Lily much like our parents parented us... we've had great, loving moms and my dad was a great dad! My mom often ends up holding Lily while she naps... for hours.

But now the bananas make sense. Last month, I mashed up a banana with breast milk and offered it to Lily. She wasn't quite six months yet and I wasn't quite sure if she was ready. She pushed the banana around in her mouth a bit and pretty much ejected most of it onto her chin. A clear sign that she wasn't ready to commit. And that's OK, I froze the rest and figured we'd give it another try in a month or so. Part of me wondered why I had even tried at all at that point, but now I know that it was so that I wouldn't feel hurt or like I was missing out when my mom was the first to give our child solids. I still have that claim! If I hadn't had that try with the bananas, I'd be OK with what my mom did, but really sad that she got to do it first.

Today, I gave Lily some more carrots and she really did dig 'em. I let her have access to my breast as well so she could nurse, ask for carrots, nurse some more, grunt for carrots... etc. Worked out really well. I guess we are officially on the path towards solid food. Yikes.


"She slept a lot today" my mom tells me with a concerned look in her eye. I'm not yet sure where this is going.

"Yeah, she's been sleeping a lot more since she's gotten mobile and has had this cold." I tell her.

"And you know, we were all upstairs and she was crawling around on the bed and she started to make this really scary gasping sound. I think she might have whooping cough." Now I know where this is going.

"Really, what kind of sound was it?" I ask.

My mom starts gasping in example.

"Hmmm" I reply. Wait for it.

"Has she had her shots?" And here it is. I knew this would come up sooner or later.

"Nope. We've chosen not to vaccinate."

And there's the face... the disapproving face.

"Look Mom, I did my research on this one. The chances of her getting a lot of this stuff is really rare these days and even if she did, everything they vaccinate against is totally treatable. Besides, statistically, she's more likely to have a bad reaction than to get the darn disease."

"You really have to take her in, this sounds bad... I think she has whooping cough."

"I'll have her checked, Mom."

So I stay and chat some more as the baby nurses and then put her down to play. She's roaming around, doing her thing, when she starts vocalizing. "That sound? Is that what you're hearing?" I ask. My mom listens for a bit and then nods in agreement. "Mom, she's been making that noise for months. She's just playing with her voice. Besides, I believe I read that whooping cough sounds like a seal barking... that's no seal." Mom argues with me, saying that she's never heard that noise before as I assure her it's something I've been hearing for a long time.

We both let it drop, but I have a feeling this is going to be a "bad penny" subject... it'll be back.