The List (Confessions of a Neurotic Mother)


Confession number one: I was an uptight mother.

There, I’ve said it… Loving to a fault, there was nothing I wouldn’t have done for my children. I read every single book on child rearing. I knew what food allergens to avoid. I knew the dangers of a playground that was not ergonomically designed with safety in mind. I knew the importance of using real words – and not baby talk – so that your child would grow up to have a great vocabulary and a wide variety of interests. I filled the house with age-appropriate books for both my children. I baby-proofed Every. Single. Inch of the house. Every toy I purchased had an educational purpose in mind. I knew about child predators. I knew that sometimes, predators looked like friends, or family members. I knew that a child could drown in two inches of water. I knew a child needed plenty of fresh air. And to be socialised. And to be able to spend time occupying themselves. Never, ever, did I let my guard down.

Confession number two: I ‘occasionally’ screwed up…

When my son – my firstborn – arrived, I sterilised every single thing that his mouth came in contact with: each and every night. By the time my daughter arrived twenty-one months after her brother and I had two babies in diapers, I had no choice but to relax a little. I no longer had time to clean every toy, every rattle and every baby bottle, each and every time either of my children – or the floor – came into contact with it. And it was impossible for me not to notice how much healthier my second child was. For years, my son would catch every cold, every stomach flu, every virus going around. His sister, on the other hand, rarely got more than a sniffle and even that rarely slowed her down.

Confession number three: I kept everything.

My sister and I recently had to empty our mother’s house and ‘find a home’ for all her stuff (a story in itself…). As I came across a large collection of my baby things that Mom could no longer keep and I had absolutely no use for (i.e. scrapbooks of cards my parents received when I was born from a lot of people I had mostly never heard of), I realised that I could probably spare my own adult children many, many hours of sorting through their useless baby stuff by doing a bit of a clean-up of the many bins I had saved for each of them. Like, immediately

One item that particularly caught my attention: ‘The List’ I had prepared for my son’s first babysitter when I was going back to work. ‘List’ is a misnomer: it was more like a novella. Pages and pages and pages and pages of ‘when to feed my son’; ‘when he takes a nap’; ‘how to sooth him when he is crying’; ‘how he prefers to have his nose wiped’; ‘what he looks like just before he is about to poop’. I rolled my eyes at many entries and laughed aloud at many more. How I wish I could go back and tell my son’s babysitter that despite my very evident lunacy at the time, my poor children actually turned out just fine anyway.

Confession number four: I had trust issues (that may, by now, be self-evident to the more perceptive reader).

I was reminded of ‘The List’ a few days ago. A young friend asked if my husband and I might like to babysit her nine-month old for the day (a fourth child, by the way). We were thrilled. To bits. The Mom arrived with baby, infant bed and diaper bag in tow. A few hurried questions about what the baby likes to eat (pretty much anything, as it turns out) and she was off to work. No List… No Special Instructions…

And to my astonishment, we figured things out just fine. She’s a baby, not a new computer software program. She smiled when we were doing things right and she whimpered (only a very little) when we were not. She giggled when the dog tried to lick her and we giggled when she almost managed to get the dog’s enormous nose into her mouth. We had a wonderful day. I played her my children’s old CDs; I read a few of their books; I held her (and kissed her little face) as she napped; I brought out a small bin of old toys that used to belong to my children and played with her on the floor (that I had not cleaned before she got there…!); I changed her diaper when – gasp – it needed changing

Even without a ‘List’, somehow, we managed just fine.

Just as her amazing Mom trusted that we would…

Patti Moore Wilson/©


Author: Patti Moore Wilson, wednesdayschild2

I write what I feel. And I rarely know exactly what I feel until I write. I have lived long enough to have known many joys and many sorrows. I have made many mistakes; I have forgiven myself for a few… I have learned that there are lessons in every step of this journey, if we only take the time to pay attention… I hope you will feel free to pick and choose the stories that resonate for you…

9 thoughts on “The List (Confessions of a Neurotic Mother)”

  1. Not only were you a Mom but a human being also… there were no book of instructions, you had to play the cards dealt to you, sometimes had to go where angels feared to tread, make decisions that a general would be timid about making, and through all of that it is obvious you were a wonderful Mom and did your job well!!… 🙂

    A quote I gave to my daughter… 🙂

    “You are evidence of your mother’s strength… especially when you are a rebellious knucklehead and regardless, she has always maintained her sanity.”
    ― Criss Jami,

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Aw, thanks SO much!!! And yes, I DID miss your first message (just saw it now). Had company here and a post all ready to go with the touch of a button as I knew I wouldn’t be anywhere near my computer for a few days 😊😊😊 Thanks SO much…I’ll be working on rising to your challenge over the next few days…xoxo

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I see myself in you, completely! I can check off every single one…and what a relief to know that my kids may turn out okay too! Btw, what a nice picture! I really like the natural flow of your writing and how you draw me into every post of yours. 🙂 Well done!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh thank you SO much!!! I really, really appreciate the feedback about my writing… validation is so important…🙏🙏🙏 And the picture is me with the little girl of a friend: I am blessed to get to babysit her from time to time… and yup…we all figure things out as we go and our kids tend to turn out just fine anyway…😊😊❤️❤️

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Lol. This is funny but I guess we are one and the same. Maybe that’s what makes us good moms? I needed childcare from the moment my kids were born since I worked full time but I could not see leaving them to strangers. So my mother in law had to come live with us and take care of the kids. For 2 years after the first and a year and half after the second. If you knew me you’d know that the last thing I would ever do was to have my mother in-law live with us that long. That’s what we do for our kids. 💕

    Liked by 2 people

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