Skip to main content

The City Journals

The Rookie Mama: Working From Sun Up to Sun Down

Jul 06, 2015 09:49AM ● By Michelle Cote
The Rookie Mama

When my husband and I found out we were expecting in late 2010, we got right to work preparing. I watched him become a champion crib-builder and master assembler of all things. I dusted off my acrylics to get working on a nursery mural, and started on some serious research.

We went back to class. Birthing classes, lamaze classes, CPR classes, breastfeeding classes, baptism classes; I was tempted to dig out my old L.L. Bean backpack for all of this additional education.

We spent our evenings excitedly poring over stacks of birthing books and baby magazines (thanks to my late doctor grandfather whose office subscription oddly never ended).
We both had visions of our little girl, whose hair I'd put in pigtails, whom we'd dress in flowery outfits. 

My husband and I each grew up with younger sisters - no brothers - so it was natural to imagine a daughter of our own.

We read the Heidi Murkoff classic; it told us what to expect.

My husband, who had the 'What to Expect' app on his phone, would read me the daily update: "Baby's the size of a pea! Baby's the size of a grape!"

What we did not expect: our ultrasound technician's announcement at our 18-week visit. 
"You're having a boy!"

She pointed to a screen with quickly moving blurs and shapes, as if it should be obvious.

Boy, oh boy. I knew absolutely nothing about baby boys.

Matchbox cars and Tonka trucks were a foreign concept, from a land far, far away from my childhood's familiar glittery jump ropes, Skip-Its and Lisa Frank coloring books. Everything that was pink and purple to me was about to come to a screeching halt.

I had vague memories of my male cousins' Nerf guns and football Nintendo games, but we girls never really took part in those shenanigans; we were more preoccupied with sidewalk chalk and friendship bracelets.

I am still not quite sure what a 'zone defense' is, but I know it has to do with football.
Months passed, and I was still no clearer on what was to come. 

Brad Paisley's lyrics about his wife's pregnancy with their son was constantly running through my head: 

"He'll probably climb a tree too tall and ride his bike too fast/End up every summer wearing something in a cast".

I waddled into work thinking of this song every day as my due date came and went. 

According to Heidi Murkoff, my baby boy was now the size of a watermelon.

At 42 weeks, our fashionably late little man came into our lives at last. 

Here he was - a mysterious, miniature version of ourselves just as bewildered as we were.

What my aunt had repeatedly told us throughout my pregnancy was true - My husband and I would discover a piece of our hearts that we never knew existed. 

And so, the extreme vigilance and feeding schedules began. Ah, adventures in parenthood. 
Two years have passed, and I've surprised myself at how I've come to love all little boy things with our now-toddler (made more obvious since we lopped off his long, blond ringlets).

My husband and I share in his wide-eyed excitement as a plane flies overhead. We jump for joy alongside him as he sees the City trucks come pick up our trash. (I'll especially jump for joy when we get curbside recycling this summer, hey-o!) 

Our potted plants and picture frames which once lined our windowsills have been completely replaced by trucks. Trucks with sounds, trucks with flashing lights, trucks that dig. I really dig it.
It's become so commonplace, that I'm not sure I could ever go back to my pre-boy decor. 
I've even come to appreciate a boys' easy wardrobe.

Sure, boys' clothing will never be as adorable as girls', but they are so darn easy to mix and match. Everything goes with everything, so it's easy to swap out clothes after a good ol' playtime in the dirt.

I'm only two years into parenthood. There are so many exciting things to discover: little league, camping trips to take, and s'mores to make.

Part of me is apprehensive of what sometimes comes with that territory - skinned knees and stitches, sports injuries and biking tumbles.

I'm doing this for the first time, and the unforeseen can be daunting.

Just as doctors refer to their work as 'practice', parenthood is a delicate practice all in its own.
So maybe having a boy wasn't the true shock - it was having a child.

It was knowing that the three of us are total rookies. My husband and I can only try our best to make a positive difference in our son's life, as he already has in ours'.

As Elizabeth Stone said, having a child is 'to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body'.

That's beautiful. And terrifying.

But my favorite quote, what truly says it all, is:
"Mamaaaa! Dadaaa!" when we walk through the door. 
And that's how we know it's worth it.

— Michelle Cote enjoys cooking, gardening, design, and living room dance-offs with her husband, son, and princess puppy Ava. She can be reached at [email protected].