You know those people that you meet over the interwebs & you just know they’ll be the greatest thing that happened to you since you removed your braces, discovered vibrators, & married the man of your dreams? That’s Poe. We met on an internet board a few years ago & after I lost Harpie, we both threw caution & safety to the wind so that she could bring me a fifth of tequila as a mourning gift. (at my house. I made her bring her boys along as exchange for the knowledge of my address.) & since then, she has truly become one of the most solid, empathetic, come-to-Jesus-now women in my life.
My Mama Guru, as she likes to put it.
“Sister, I’m not going to sugarcoat it, your nips are going to be hating life.” That was the gospel truth. The gospel truth according to my Mama Guru.
I am no stranger to babies. My parents deciding to expand our family when I was 11, and that was my hands on education in baby. They used the pregnancy as a teaching tool, from the biology of the miracle of life to the old fashioned values regarding, what they felt were the ideal conditions that go into bringing a baby into the world. Those being a strong marriage, the financial ability to care for a child, and a sense that family is the above all things. And once the pregnancy ended in the birth of my brother, they continued the teaching, and they were not shy about using their eldest daughter for free babysitting. Or as I like to call it, my period of indentured servitude.
They say do what you love. And according to The Man, my hobby is pachinas. In my professional life, I have spent a good deal of my time educating and counseling women, both grown-ass and trifling teen alike about most things lady-bits. Birth control, STD’s, TTC. I’ve taught parenting classes, getting pregnant classes, avoiding getting pregnant classes. I’ve run groups regarding issues on healthy relationships. I have dispensed birth control, Plan-B, and antibiotics for bacteria that occur after bumping uglies. Hell, I taught a breast feeding class at the tender age of 21. Me and my virgin nips. Oh, the stories I have! I loved my jobs, but as a result of them I suffer from a form of PTSD TMI. Basically, nothing is off limits in my world. Much to The Man’s mortification. I make a hell of a dinner guest.
So, while all of the real life experience of having a kid brother, and teaching teenagers how to care for their babies certainly had a huge hand in preparing me for parenthood, my Mama Guru has been what had gotten my through the landmines that parenthood has thrown my way.
She was the first person I met at my new job after moving cross country to be with my future husband. Mama Guru was five years my senior, and we clicked from the word “GO” despite being at different stages of life. She was married, the mother to a 3 year-old, and TTC her second. I was fresh out of college, living on my own, and in discussions with The Man regarding maybe getting hitched.
She had her second child 6 weeks before my wedding. We experienced these life events together, laughing all the way. I was one of the few people who knew she had been TTC, and she popped my TCOYF cherry. Now I had, at my previous job, taught classes about birth control, but I would mostly skim the parts about Natural Family Planning, because it was my job to educate teens who were either pregnant or already parenting. NFP in the hands of teens is not a birth control method. PERIOD, but that is especially true for teens who had already failed to master basic birth control methods like condoms, The Pill, or keeping it in the pants. So, being handed TCOYF felt a little dirty, a little wrong since preventing pregnancy was pretty much my religion. In a very real way, her introduction of TCOYF to me was the birth of the Mama Guru.
Fast forward three years. She is the only person I tell that I am going to be TTC (well, The Man was in on the plan.) She is the first person I tell, after The Man, that I had POAS and that it was positive. She is the first person I call after my first OB appointment. The first person I cry to as I tell her that there is one healthy embryo, but that there had been another that did not have a heartbeat. She says all the right things, the things I know but that I need to hear in that moment. She was the first person who heard “It’s a BOY!” after my big ultra sound, to which she appropriately replied, “Oh, a little masturbator!” The first, both because she is in the same time zone as my uterus, whereas my parents are three time zones away, but also because she is the one who will answer my questions with humor and brutal honesty.
I have a wonderful mother, a nurse no less. But it had been 15 years since she had put breast to babe, and she remained a breast pump virgin. So after discovering my first attempt at pumping had produced a lovely liquid the shade of DARK PINK, MG calmed my shit down and told me my nips would recover. Eventually. Her sage advice has continued throughout the years. I have, more than once called her before calling the pediatrician, initially when I was in the throes of new parent-crazy, and later in the throes of Mother to wild-crazy. She has saved me co-pays (“Nah, it is eczema, put some Aquaphor on him.”), pain (“Astroglide, it is the #1 choice of gay men!”) From embarrassment (“Just go ahead and warn him there will likely be poop on the table tell him it is his job to deny that there was poop on the table.”) And my sanity (“Co-sleeping is always an option, and it doesn’t make you a hippie. As long as you still shave your pits.”) She is my Mama Guru, telling me when that thing my kid just did, while vile/smelly/against the laws of nature is totally normal–even age appropriate. Always validating my concerns, assuring me that I am not an overprotective, overreacting nut-job mother, except when I am. But she lets me know and keeps it real.
When not being my lifeline, she is sharing the stories of what her boys are doing. The good, the bad, and the WHAT!?! We both blanche at the reality that her oldest is needing more private time, with a locked door. And a box of Kleenex That her middle two have turned her into a referee in her own living room. And that she can no longer smell that baby smell on her boys’ skin. These phone calls are the ghost of parenting future for me.
Of course, in some ways, that is what successful “Mommy” bloggers have become to the internet village of plugged-in women. The stories of their foibles in parenting are often for entertainment and yet they humanize and make common the shenanigins of NOT eating the young. Like most people, I have a few bloggers I follow, and I have gleaned many useful tidbits from them, what to do, what NOT to do, and what I want to do with my hijos. I wouldn’t trade my real life Mama Guru for the most famous Mommy bloggers in the world, even with their fancy Bloggie Awards. But, as I have tapped into my Mama Guru for shaping my parenting, I have turned to these online Moms and have used their stories and experiences in my parenting. Simply put, the experience of others can make you better, can help solve what ails you, and can help you from reinventing the wheel. Mostly, these Mama Gurus, both in real life and internet, provide a warm blanket of NORMAL in the middle of ashitstorm of crazy. I am lucky to have my Mama Guru. So are my kids.
As I am finishing up this guest blogging piece, my phone starts buzzing with a text message. My girl-friend, just home with her first born son is in the throes of new Momma-crazy. I pick up the phone, find her number in my phone book. I try to invoke the tone of voice that my Mama Guru used with me almost four years ago, because it was like instant calm back then. I know that I will tell her everything is going to be ok. Even her nips. Eventually.