Morning Hair, Colic and Mother’s Day Wishes

“There’s a story behind everything…but behind all your stories is always your mother’s story…because hers is where yours begins.” – Mitch Albom, For One More Day

I had a blast interviewing my mom last year on marriage and lasting love, and thought it was time for a followup. Yesterday we chatted by phone about motherhood. Here’s what my ebulient mama had to say, once again revealing tidbits I wasn’t aware of.

August McLaughlin baby picture

Mom and me on Christmas, 1981

August: When did you first realize that you wanted to be a mom?

Caroline: I can tell you the exact moment. I went to the hospital and my sister, Jackie, had just had her first baby. That was the first time I saw a baby up close, and I thought, “That’s what I want!” I always knew I wanted kids, but that sealed the deal.

August: What’s surprised you the most about parenthood?

Caroline: I’ve enjoyed it more than I thought I would. Children are so full of wonder… Also, your hair can be standing on end, and you can look in the mirror and think, “OH MY!” Well, you know my morning hair.

August: [laughs] Yes, but don’t worry. I won’t post a picture.

Caroline: You can look just awful, and you go to pick up a baby from the crib, and they think you’re just gorgeous! They love you either way.

August: Aw. You’re welcome!

Caroline: [laughs]

August: What’s one of your favorite funny memories?

Caroline: One night when Dad was working nights, I was sleeping on the couch, and you had colic, you know.

August: So I’ve heard.

Caroline: You were a siren at two or three in the morning. So I took you to the living room and hours later, I was sleeping on the couch. I jolted upright and thought, “Oh no! Where is she? What did I do with her?” And there you were, sound asleep on my shoulder.

August: [laughs] So I did sleep every once in a while.

Caroline: Yep! You could get away on such little sleep, yet were just full of joy. And joy is contagious.

August: I’m glad colic isn’t.

Caroline: Colic seems really long when you’re screaming in the middle of the night. But when it’s done, we’d think, that wasn’t so bad! You sort of forget the bad parts.

August: Ah. Post-colic amnesia. Sweet! Speaking of noise, I get my blurting tendencies from you. Do you remember my first one?

Caroline: Do I… It was just before Kelly was born. You were only about 18 months, and nursing just a couple of times a day. So I gave you a tiny glass of milk and explained that you’re still you’re going to get your milk, but you’re getting it from a cup now because Mama is having another baby. You looked at me and said, “So you’re going to be four mommies?” I said, “Yes.” And you said, “Well there’s only one daddy. And he’s ALL MINE.”

Got 'im!

Got ‘im!

August: Such a giver, I was. Good thing I learned to share.

Caroline: You were a talker very early. Your first words were ‘Mama’ and ‘Dada.’ And you loved books.

August: I remember. You gave me a lot of quiet time with those books.

Caroline: That’s what YOU remember. You didn’t have much quiet time. You always thought you were in there for hours. I just gave you a chill out moment—time to refocus.

August: If you say so. I still need those.

Caroline: One thing you did that drove Aaron nuts, was you’d sit in your car seat and sing about everything you saw out the window, at the top of your lungs. And you’d look at Aaron and he looked like had smoke coming out of his ears.

August: I don’t blame him! But geez. Sometimes a girl gets bored.

Caroline: One of the funniest things, I remember as clear as a bell. It was your first experience with watermelon, at Grandma’s. Kelly had just started talking, and you were probably four. She held up her watermelon to you and said, “What’s this?” And you said, “I don’t know! But it has little black shiny things in it!” You reminded me of two little old ladies chatting about some newfangled thing. Now you can get watermelon all year long, but then it was only available in the summer.

Kelly and Me

Kelly and Me

August: Super cute. Was it different raising Aaron, compared to us four girls? Or were we all just really different?

Caroline: What your sex is was irrelevant. You all have blue eyes and blondish hair, but every one of you is unique. When you have four girls, you can really see the differences—very individual.

I never had a little brother, and wasn’t around little boys very much. I thought they loved cars and other stereotypical stuff, so one year I bought Aaron the cutest set of little cars and trucks from the Sears catalogue. But I realized I’d bought it for me. I liked it, and thought that he should like it. He was nice about it, but he never played with them.

August: [laughs] That’s probably why he and I played “used car lot” later on and tried to sell them off.

Mom and Aaron

Mom and Pirate/Viking Aaron

Caroline: Now little Isabelle goes around with cars and goes, “Vroom, vroom, vroom. Truck!” She loves them.

August: You started having kids very early—20, right? Was it a shock?

Caroline: Yes, twenty. I don’t think that I’d even changed a diaper before. Dad taught me how. I think the biggest shock is to realize that they’re always there. They’re not going anywhere, and they’re your responsibility. It’s kind of like, “Here’s a sponge, and you’re going to teach it what it’s going to soak up.” Obviously kids make your own choices, but what things are you going to offer them? That’s a pretty awesome responsibility.

August: I can imagine. What’s your Mother’s Day wish?

Caroline: Well, I told the girls all I want for Mother’s Day is little handmade cards from the granddaughters, and that’s it.

August: Ha. Good luck with that.

Caroline: My Mother’s Day wish is this. You have chosen not to have kids like Carla has. But you’re a super special aunty to your nieces, and you can mother them if you want to. It’s not right or wrong to have a baby. If someone has them and they don’t want them, I would just love for them to find loving homes for them. There are so many loving people who want children but can’t have them.

August: That’s sweet, Mom. And cool that you’re so open minded. I’ve known for a long time that the only way I’d want to get pregnant is if one of my sisters needed to borrow my womb.

Caroline: [laughs hard] Hope you have lots of storage!

August: Well not all at once! Anyway, I’m glad they’re all fertile.

Caroline: I look at teachers who’ve never married, or never had kids. Their pupils are like their children, and they have more kids than any of us. I also wish that if people wish, they can be a mom. I don’t love you anymore or less because you have babies or you don’t have babies. And I was just telling Dad today that Zoe has an aura about her.

August: She does, doesn’t she? I love the way you tie it all into my dog—because you know that she’s my thing.

Caroline: Well she’s a special girl, my grand-dog-ter.

Zoe, the GREAT!

Zoe, the GREAT!

August: Brilliant and true. I have to head out, but if I find that picture of your morning hair from New York—

Caroline: Putsu!  [Translation: AUGUST JOHNSON MCLAUGHLIN—Don’t you dare!]

Okay, okay… I’ll share her most recent poem instead:

Mama Brain, by Caroline

I looked forward to being a mom with great expectation,
Never realizing there would be days of great consternation.
Some sleepless nights, schedules to juggle, topped off with a bout of flu
Could leave me wondering, what on Earth would I do?
Motherhood is filled with hugs and fun, that’s a fact.
Motherhood is also a careful, loving balancing act.
Like sunshine following the rain, mothers rely on their mama brain.

The Johnson 5 (6 if you consider my beached hair a creature)

The Johnson 5

(6 if you consider my Miami-bleached hair a creature)

What’s your favorite mom memory? What has your mother taught you? Any thoughts or questions for mine? 

 ♥ Have a happy Mother’s Day! ♥

Intuition: Tuning in Like Moms

In the spring of 2005, Rachel Schoger, a 29-year-old mother in Caldwell, Idaho, received devastating news from her doctor. After several miscarriages, she learned that her pregnancy was ectopic, and her baby had no chance of survival. If the baby wasn’t aborted, Schoger risked life-threatening complications.

After her first round on injections to terminate the pregnancy, Schoger sensed that something was wrong—not with her baby, but the diagnosis. She dreamed that the infant was screaming in pain inside of her, and demanded more tests.

Despite the thorough testing she’d endured, the next ultrasound showed a seemingly healthy infant in her womb. In January 2006, baby Seraphine was born. Though she required surgeries to correct deformities Shoger attributes to the injections, Seraphine is now a healthy six-year-old—largely due to her mother’s ability to sense and respond to her instincts. And as we’ve addressed before, instincts (those gut feelings) and intuition (relying on them), aren’t hype, but science.

For years, it was believed that women, particularly mothers, have stronger intuition than men. Although studies have proven otherwise—we actually come out pretty even—mothers have significant intuitive strengths, including faith in their abilities. In honor of Mother’s Day weekend, I say we celebrate them and follow suit. Are you in??? 😉

When it comes to mothers’ intuition, I see three major strengths. Moms tend to trump others in regards to motivation, awareness and action. They are expected to have strong instincts, trust them fiercely and act on them with gusto. Whether the chicken or egg came first here, I couldn’t tell ya. (No pun intended. ;)) Regardless, we can all learn a lot from mamas’ intuitive skill-sets.

Consider these examples:

#1: Imagine you’re a young, single woman heading into an upscale restaurant, alone. A man approaches and offers you a drink. The man is charming, yet something inside you tells you to say ‘no.’ But you don’t have other plans…and don’t want to hurt his feelings… And besides, you’d promised to get out and let loose once in a while. One drink can’t hurt. Can it?

#2: Now imagine you’re the same woman, walking into the same restaurant, holding an infant. The same man approaches. He offers you a drink, says he “adores children,” even has one of his own. When you hesitate he gives you a winning grin and suggests non-alcoholic drinks. Heck, a glass of water? You hold your child closer and give an affirmative, “NO,” then walk away.

See the difference?

A girlfriend of mine told me she never knew how much she could worry until she had kids. That “worry” is the same fear (“Gift of Fear”, as renowned safety expert Gavin de Becker would say) we all experience. Having kids heightens parents’ motivation to do and say whatever it takes to protect them, and, by by extension, themselves.

In previous posts, we discussed how fear and instincts can enhance personal safety and even save our lives. Trusting and acting upon instincts can also help in countless other ways, from making the right romantic and financial decisions to building successful careers. In order to follow our instincts, we have to sense them. Whether your instinctive habits are super-mom savvy or far from it, the following steps can help.

5 Ways to Make Your “Inner Voice” Loud and Clear

1. Keep a journal. I first read Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way about 10 years ago while living in Miami. I was amazed at what those daily “morning pages” —3 pages of free-writing—revealed. Letting our thoughts spill out on paper, or other creative mediums, helps de-clutter and clarify our needs, hunches and wants.

2. Pay attention. Simply deciding to stay more aware is often enough to make our instincts roar.

3. Take some quiet time. Whether you’re trying to make a decision, texting while watching TV and eating dinner probably won’t help. 😉 Whether you have five minutes or 60 to devote to daily solitude, do it. If you’re not a fan of sitting still, take a bath, go for a walk or think while doing something fairly mindless, like folding laundry.

4. Talk it out. Little beats supportive friends when it comes to exploring our instincts. If your friend or partner challenges your inclination and you feel defensive, you probablyl know exactly how you feel. 😉 If they agree, it can be affirming. Your loved ones might even recognize what your intuitive voice is saying before you do.

5. Sleep on it. Yeah, I’m not great at this either, you insomniacs. 😉 But seriously, our minds work through problems while we sleep. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve woken in the morning, knowing exactly what to do about a particular plot point or character in my novel after feeling torn or clueless the night prior.

In what area of your life do you most rely on your instincts? Have you responded to them lately? Any “mother’s intuition” stories to share?