Battle Hymn of the Elephant Mother

Things that are new around these here parts:

1.Non-fiction. I’m on a huge non-fiction kick lately, and I’m getting so much reading done ever since I gave up Facebook for Lent. I just read Amy Chua’s Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother and it is intense. It is exactly like this sterotypical Asian meme, except it’s written by a woman and these things actually happened in real life.

Amy Chua is seriously scary, and I love it. Her book basically is about the difference between Chinese mothers and American mothers, and how American mothers are soft and permissive, and Chinese mothers produce smart and capable children because they’re not afraid to tell it like it is. Chua herself has two exceptional daughters who are musical prodigies and attend Ivy league schools, probably because she would chinese-water-torture them if they didn’t practice for hours a day (is that racist?). I’m not going to lie, parts of the book had me cheering for her, and parts of it had me cringing in horror on behalf of her kids. In this one scene her daughters made her homemade birthday cards and Chua tossed the cards back in the girls’ faces and told them to get back to her when they had a real present to give her. OWNED! I mean, the girls probably didn’t have time to go buy her a present, considering how they were forced to practice violin for six hours every day, but still! You tell ’em, Amy!

How do you get to Carnegie Hall? CHILD ABUSE

I’m going to write a book called Battle Hymn of the Elephant Mother because I’ve got 10 pounds of baby weight to lose, and if my kid ever mouthed off to me I’d probably just swat at it with my giant trunk and lumber off in search of food.

2. Whining. June is a delight lately. She’s been taking naps like a champion, and is just generally a bright, cheery little girl. Or, you know, whatever is the opposite of that.

Lately, she’s turned into a huge whiner. About everything. Whenever she wants to be picked up, she whines. Whenever a toy is not doing what she wants, she whines. And of course, if I’m not near her at all times, or if any one of her zillion toys is obstructing her view of me, she whines. And God help me if I have to leave the room for a split second. Girlfriend is NOT having it.

Her reaction.

At first I was like, you don’t own me, baby! Dobby is a free elf! And then I couldn’t stand one more second of whining so I picked her up and just did whatever she told me to do. When I have to pee I just take her into the bathroom with me, and she stops whining and just stares at me, and believe it or not, that makes it really hard to go. Awkward!

Oh, but that whine. THAT WHINE. I’ll do anything to avoid it. Including pee while she’s watching me. Or try to.

Makes me want to go back to the newborn stage.


Sickness. June is still sick. I don’t know if it’s a cold, or allergies, or maybe even teething, but whatever she’s got is making her irritable and congested, and she’s got this cough that is giving me grey hair.
I phoned the on-call nurse at our Pediatrician’s office, and she told me if it was a “barking cough” then they’d need to see the baby right away. Right away? RIGHT AWAY?! You’re supposed to laugh me off the phone and tell me what a silly first-time mom I’m being! So, panicked, I had my husband come home early and we took her immediately to the doctor and I had tears in my eyes as I recounted the awful, horrible, probably-pertussis-like barking cough she was emitting the night before.

The exchange with the doctor went like this:

Dr: So you say it’s a barking cough?
Me: Yes, it is!
Dr: What kind of bark?
Me: Like…a harsh…like…you know…a bark.
Dr. Like a dog bark? Or a seal bark?
Me: Well, I don’t know the animal…it just sounded like a barking noise.
Dr. Well if it’s croup or bronchitis it’s going to sound like a seal bark. A dog bark just means she has congestion.

My reaction.

Well, shit. Apparently your run-of-the-mill barking cough isn’t dangerous, but a seal barking cough is what you need to look out for. I should have asked him if he meant a wild seal or like a circus seal. A leopard seal or a harbor seal? Surely we can diagnose this if we just pinpoint the right animal.

So anyway, her lungs are “clear” according to the doctor, even though she still has a barking, phlegmy cough and I’m starting to suspect it’s allergies. At least it’s not pertussis. Probably.

3. Increased Mobility. My tiny little girl has gone from sitting quietly on the floor like this

to now licking things, picking toys up and throwing them, and trying to pull herself up with some disastrous results. And she’s starting to get into things now. I looked away for one second yestereay and when I looked back at her she was eating a baby wipe. I probably should have calmly taken it out of her mouth but instead I screeched like she was on fire, tore the wipe out of her hands, and scrubbed out her mouth with the edge of my shirt. The other day she also tried to hoist herself up on a standing toy, and then fell and conked her head when the toy gave out from under her, not unlike Miss Blankenship beefing it on Mad Men:

That was my reaction too, Peggy.

So pretty much at this rate I’m going to have a heart attack, with all the things she’s not supposed to be eating and the concussions she’s probably getting as she learns how to crawl and stand. Seriously, she falls down and cries at least once a day, and it’s starting to fray my nerves.

4. Baby-moon. Despite the whining/crying/teething issue we’ve got over here, I’m enjoying June so much more than I did when she was a yowling, formless infant. I think I actually like her now. And that’s quite a relief because when I had an infant and people would mention the term “baby moon,” I had no idea what they were talking about.

Apparently a “babymoon” is the time after birth when you and your husband and your new baby get to know each other and just bask in each other’s love or something. I got the impression that it’s supposed to be this peaceful, glorious time where you revel in your baby and in each other, a lot like the self-absoprtion you and your spouse would experience during your honeymoon. So evidently, having a new baby is supposed to be like your honeymoon.

Really? Really? Hold on imma let you finish but a “baby-moon” is nothing like a honeymoon. I remember my honeymoon and it didn’t involve leaking breast milk onto my adult diapers and crying because I couldn’t remember what day it was. So either I didn’t have the whole “baby-moon” thing when she was an infant, or I was too exhausted to notice it.

Furthermore, the love you have for your husband (like on your honeymoon) and the love you have for your baby are just two vastly different things. I am in love with my husband. I’m obsessed with my baby. Sometimes I just stare at her. Or I smell her. Yesterday in the car she was starting to fuss because her hat had drifted down over her eyes and she couldn’t see, so I reached back with one hand and popped the hat off her head. Without thinking, I put it to my face and inhaled — like a crack junkie.

I haven’t held the baby in ten whole minutes!

You are consumed by your baby — so much so that your baby can shoot diarrhea all over you and your only response will be “Oopsie! That’s okay!” Which is very unlike “honeymoon love” unless you and your honey are involved in a disturbing level of enmeshment. (I can’t say that I love June more than my husband, but I will say that if my husband ever sprayed poop on me I’d throw him under a bus.) You’re so obsessed you start missing her when she sleeps — even if you’ve been praying for her to sleep for hours. You will sneak in her room to watch her sleep and then the floor creaks and she wakes up but you’re not overly upset about it because that means you get to rock her back to sleep and secretly that’s what you wanted to do anyway.

What’s that, June? You want to wake up and play with mommy?

Now, though, “baby-moon” is a different story. She is hilarious and making all sorts of cute sounds and faces, and now I catch myself sighing and swooning over her. Maybe this is the baby-moon, now that I can finally catch my breath and sleep for more than two hours at a time and I’m able to actually enjoy her.

I’m the baby, gotta love me!

Look at her, can you blame me? How can I not enjoy that face?

Oh, it is love.


6 thoughts on “Battle Hymn of the Elephant Mother

  1. Maybe the "whine" is a girl thing. I babysit an 11 month old girl and oh my Lord when she cries or whines it is annoying as all shit. And I'll say "Kellen! It's alright!" and she'll cry even harder. Joe was never like that. Now he just screams bloody murder whenever he's pissed. I'll take that over the whine. I used to think a babymoon is when you and your husband and baby had your first trip. Yeah, babymoons are not fun. Crying (both baby and mama), leaking, being paranoid of SIDS so you stand over your baby for hours during the night to hear them breathe… not fun.

  2. I couldn't sleep this morning and have been up since 2am. I was crying laughing at this post. You crack me up. You better be lucky that you don't live near me, or I might stalk you. :)The whole seal barking, can not stop laughing! Makes me cry! I really need you to post every single day! LOLI did not like the newborn stage so I completely agree with you! COMPLETELY! I'm pretty vocal about not liking newborns. I really like/enjoy my daughter right now. LOL I totally understood and still do why animals eat their young. 🙂

  3. the only thing that's similar between baby moon (never heard of it until now) and honeymoon is the presence of bodily fluids. just my opinion…,mom

  4. Your posts are so helpful to me. Our the babies are the same age and it is so good to hear that someone has the same blend of angst and humor about life with the creature. Dobby is a free elf will be the rallying cry just before I give in every time now.

  5. First, this post is so funny that I choked on my tea. Again. I'm going to die from aspirated tea one day and when somebody lets Patheos know, you're going to know it's your fault. Second, it took me four kids, but I finally realized that I do not like newborns. I don't like them, I'm not good with them, they drain me, and frankly I just don't want to have any more. Give me a 9 month old, though, and I am over the moon, blissed out, totally ready to have another one just for the perfect 9 month-2 year stage. That's my favorite age so far, and if Sienna's any indication, it's going to be my favorite age ever. Babymoons are only really wonderful if you're the newborn "type." I don't even like my own, and when other people try to show me their newborns I'm like, "oooh, that thing is cute, but I'm so glad it's not mine!" I actually say this, and what used to get laughs in Vegas basically gets me blacklisted from the social club in Ave Maria. So, you know, if you realize you're not a newborn person, just shut up about it (NOT on your blog, obviously) is my terrible advice that was probably not worth the virtual ink it took me to type this. But I love your blog and I read it anytime I'm sitting down. No joke. I think I'm stalking you.

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