I have always considered myself to be a warrior for mommy rights. My personal mantra is, "Mommy is a person, too." So you would naturally assume that after my second baby was born, already being a pro at this motherhood thing, I would dive right back into my old routines and rituals. Not so much. For someone who is passionate about making sure her needs do not go unmet, someone who tries to assert her personhood into motherhood as much as possible, I was no shining example of a self-actualized, feminist woman after the birth of my second child.
Sure, I did some things for myself, like watch my favorite TV shows, eat sweets, read books and play on Facebook. I pursued the hedonist pleasure of sitting on my ass, nursing, napping and vegging with my newborn with great vigor. But there were many things, things that were central to my identity (or at least to my self-care and cleanliness) that went completely by the wayside for months. Some for over a year...
- I didn't go to yoga again until my baby was 7 months old.
- I remembered how to meditate when she was almost a year.
- I spent my first night away from her after 16 months (I know some women who have waited years).
- I didn't wear a drop of makeup for 4 months.
- I started sleeping through the night again when she was 15 months.
- I didn't leave the house at bedtime for 11.5 months. I may have squeezed in a quick Happy Hour from time to time, or stealthily crept out after the baby was asleep, but never, never, during bedtime.
- I remembered that I missed writing, desperately, when she was 9 months old.
- I forgot to exfoliate any part of myself until she was 20 months old.
- I remembered that I liked to drink red wine in the evenings when she was 14 months old.
- I still haven't begun to shower in the mornings, unless it is the weekend and my husband is home. 21 months old.
And here's a bonus: remember that Mom Shaming craze?
If there are any moms reading this who are still in that post-baby stage of figuring things out, I hope that you will feel comforted that you are not the only one struggling to navigate this overwhelming time of life, rather than discouraged that it can take this long to reclaim parts of yourself. If you are a pregnant or brand new mama, cut yourself some slack, and try not to rush things.
Or maybe some women will read this and feel motivated to try harder, to do better. Perhaps you will feel compelled to step up your identity reconnaissance efforts. A person who hasn't yet had kids may read this and scoff, "That will never happen to me. I will make it a priority to keep my own identity and needs in the picture from day one." I hope that happens for you. I wish you the best of luck.
But if you find yourself, someday, dismayed at how your fashion (not to mention hygiene) efforts have taken a nose-dive, bewildered that you somehow forgot to exercise, and embarrassed that you have neglected your passions, remember: you will get these things back. It takes time. Be gentle with yourself.
A study published in the journal Infant Behavior & Development revealed that the standard "You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby" has little to do with reality. When 253 college students were asked to rank photos of the same individuals as infants and young adults (without being told who was who), there was no relationship between how cute the students found the babies and how attractive they found the grown-ups.
No, really, it's true. It doesn't matter how many times you've heard the shout "Mine!" -- research shows babies can sense fairness at 15 months. During one study at the University of Washington, 47 babies observed videos of an experimenter distributing milk and crackers to two people. When one recipient received more food than the other, the babies paid more attention. That means they had expected a fair distribution. The researchers also found that babies who did notice unfairness were more likely to share their own toys.
OK, so they're not exactly psychic. But a recent study from the University of Missouri found that babies just 10 months old are starting to follow the thought processes of others. Yuyan Luo, an associate professor of developmental psychology who conducted the study, tells The Huffington Post, "Babies, like adults, when they see something for the first time -- when something is surprising -- they look for a long time. It shows [they recognize] something is inconsistent." It's called the "violation of expectation," she explained. When babies are surprised by something or notice something unexpected has happened, they tend to gaze at that thing longer. In Luo's research, babies watched actors consistently choose object A (such as a block or a cylinder) over object B. When an actor then switched to object B, the babies stared for about five to six seconds longer, meaning they recognized the change in preference.
Don't judge a book by its cover. Treat all people the same. We're all equals. These are sentiments parents strive to teach their kids from a very young age. And they should. Starting, like, immediately. Researchers at the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom found that babies at three months begin showing a preference for the faces of people of their own race. But not all hope for equality is lost. The same study showed that babies who are exposed to people of all different races are less likely to develop bias at such an early age.
Researchers from Brigham Young University found that five-month-old babies can identify an upbeat song as being different from a series of sad, slow songs. In other words, they are happy. They know it. They will clap their hands. Or stare longer, as the case may be. The experimenters showed babies an emotionless face while music played. When they played a new sad song, the babies looked away. When the music pepped up, the babies stared for three to four seconds longer.
Babies have a sense of morality at six months old, say Yale researchers. During the Yale study, babies watched a puppet show in which a wooden shape with eyes tried to climb a hill over and over again. Sometimes a second puppet helped him up the hill, and other times a third puppet pushed him down. After watching the act several times, the babies were presented with both puppets. They showed a clear preference for the good characters over the bad ones by reaching to play with the good puppet.
Dr. Janet Werker of the University of British Columbia, who studies how babies perceive language, found that if a mother spoke two languages while pregnant, her infant could recognize the difference between the two. And they don't even have to be spoken out loud. Werker's research found that infants four to six months old can visually discriminate two languages when watching muted videos of someone speaking both.
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