Many of you may not know this, but I spent almost a decade working at Parenting magazine, first as an editor, and later, as an advice columnist, charged with answering questions about the ethics and etiquette of motherhood, parenting, marriage and friendship. In that time, I had a blast answering reader questions from my unique perspective as a parenting and relationship expert as well as a mom, wife and friend. Here on MyBrownBaby, I’m so pleased to continue the mission of helping moms dissect, learn about and understand the various roles they take on as they raise babies, kicking off this new weekly feature with a question about how to get toddlers to behave. If you have a question you’d like me to answer, send it to denene [at] mybrownaby [dot] com. — Denene
My 10-month-old bypasses his toys for things he can’t touch—the dog’s bones, electrical chords, the toilet paper. I’m exhausted. How do I get him to stop?
A: Welcome to motherhood—the wonderful world where babies fill your heart with love, and your house with absolute chaos. You just don’t see the latter coming until your baby gets mobile and starts becoming an intrepid little explorer and “discovers” that toilet tissue can pull off the roll into big, pretty, fluffy piles (my daughter Mari’s big discovery when she learned to crawl), that poofs of baby powder look really cool on brown carpet (Lila’s decorative contribution to our bedroom) and pots, pans, and plastic containers serve a much higher purpose in the middle of the kitchen floor than stacked neatly in the bottom kitchen cabinet (both of my girls’ one-time favorite pastime).
This is my humble way of telling you that your baby’s predilection for getting into stuff and running you ragged is a given—it’s what babies do. I remember tearily telling my mom that my little ones were driving me mad, and that I was so tired from running behind the two of them that I could barely see straight. Her response was simple and eye-opening: “Your job,” she said, “is to keep your babies from killing their little fool selves. Don’t worry; it’ll get better.”
I say the same thing to you. Yes, this is a tiring proposition, and you will be worn out from sunrise to sunset and even in your dreams trying to keep your baby out of the muck and mire, and you will be constantly amazed that even though you’ve taken every precaution to keep your son out of harm’s way, he will still manage to find something bad/wrong/mind-boggling nutty to do to keep you on your toes. The best you can do is to take normal precautions—baby gates, cabinet and toilet locks and latches, electric socket covers, and closed doors are a mom’s best friend—and accept the fact that you will worry/chase behind/save your child from messes as long as, well, you’re his mom. But the love you have for him, and that he’ll always have for you, will be fitting payment for all the hard work.
Send your pressing questions about parenting, motherhood, family, friendship and relationships to denene [at] mybrownbaby [dot] com.
Mom. NY Times bestselling author. Pop culture ninja. Unapologetic lover of shoes, bacon and babies. Nice with the verbs. Founder of the top black parenting website, MyBrownBaby.