We don’t write about parenting.
Once in a while we will get requests to cover certain topics on #staymarried. I love it when that happens. It usually jogs my mind and gives me something new to research and think about. However, now and again we will get requests to write about parenting in the midst of marriage, and that’s one subject we tend to shy away from.
The reason? Well, it’s because I am always on the hunt for good parenting material myself. I’m looking for a blog or a book titled “How to Parent Successfully as an Introvert When your Children Learn to Speak and then TALK to You, Expecting a Response, and Ask Questions All Day Every Day.” If this exists, or if you are thinking of writing it, please let me know. I am at a loss.
I am also looking for resources for “Parenting Kids Who are Smarter Than Their Parents.” Fortunately, Tony still has a leg up on them, but I have completely fallen behind.
We recently took Claire, who is four, to get her own library card. It might sound cute, but the truth is: I was desperate. She has SO MANY QUESTIONS! She’s been asking me about babies and bodies and if any of the food on her plate is a “superfood” because she wants to have a lot of energy. I keep looking stuff up on the internet, but I am terrified we are going to come across the wrong thing… search engines always have a way of showing you things you DID NOT want to see… I figured the library would be a safer bet.
She was thrilled. “They have books about EVERYTHING!?!?!”
“They sure do, honey. Anything you want to learn about, we can probably find a book about it. Or, if you just want to read stories, or learn how to do crafts… anything at all.”
Seeing through her eyes, I realize it sounds too good to be true. (Did I mention she has SO MANY QUESTIONS!?!) I just told her there is a place that she can go, with her very own card, and borrow any book at any time to learn about ANYTHING she wants to know about.
The first two books she checked out? Two books about the digestive system, of course. For days she continuously brought up how the food was going down her esophagus, into her tummy – “which is just another way to say stomach, momma” – into her small intestine and then into her large intestine so she could poop out the stuff she didn’t need. She wants to know everything about the way her body works. She’s four. I’m in over my head.
Along with getting requests to address topics of parenting within marriage come the side conversations that sometimes start with, “Well, you have THREE KIDS, so you must feel like a pro by now. Can you tell me….” I do not know where this notion comes from. If anything, I feel more like an amateur now that I have three kids than I did when I had one.
Parenting is tricky!
Parenting is tricky. Every child is different. Every parent is different. Every couple is different. Every sibling set interacts differently. The variables are innumerable, and still, all of us are searching for answers.
By chance, or fate, or luck, or some combination of the three, our family was invited to participate in the creation of a new book called Zero to Five. It was written by the editor of my favorite parenting book, Brain Rules for Baby, but takes an entirely different approach. When we agreed to participate, all I knew was that there was a relationship between the author of this new book and Dr. John Medina, author of Brain Rules, and that we would be photographed as a family doing our normal family things.
I was still pregnant with our third daughter, Alice, when the award-winning photographer Betty Udesen arrived at my house. She was kind and unobtrusive and encouraged us to feel free to go about our day. I warned her before she arrived that I tend to be more introverted, so I had no plans to entertain her or change our family’s routine. She was welcome to come and observe, but we would do our normal lunch, our normal play, our normal discipline if necessary, and our normal nap time. She was glad to hear that she would be able to capture us without any fanfare, and that was a relief to us.
The book is finally finished and I couldn’t be more thrilled that we had even a small part in it. The book’s author, Tracy Cutchlow, has figured out an incredible way to relay so many of the concepts she edited in Brain Rules for Baby as well as many other sources and her own experience in an accessible and relatable way!
I LOVE THIS BOOK!
It’s spiral bound, covered in pictures of real life families, including ours, and the tips she shares are practical and implementable immediately. For instance, here’s a tip about a Calm-Down vs. a Time-Out. I can’t wait to try some of this with our own girls! (Hint: Pin this image and come back to it.)
One of my favorite sections in Zero to Five about the parents’ relationship with each other happens to feature a picture of Tony and I smooching!
Besides the cute couple, the content is so down to earth and so helpful. Cutchlow writes…
“Choose empathy first. Here’s one of the best things you can do for your marriage: in an emotional situation, make empathy your first response. We often jump to offer advice, play devil’s advocate, defend the person upsetting our partner, or change the subject. All our partner really wants is empathy: for us to identify with what they’re feeling. So truly listen. Show that you understand how your partner feels.”
There really are so many great parenting books out there. But, if you have ever parented toddlers, or if you are currently parenting toddlers, you know that sitting down to concentrate and read anything is a luxury. Tracy Cutchlow seems to understand this so well in the way the book is designed and put together. Whether you want to browse the pictures and read just the page headers, or grab some quick-witted wisdom from the sections that say “try this” and “good to know,” I think this is a book you will come back to over and over again as a field guide through the preschool years. I know Tony and I will.
Zero to Five is, of course, available for sale. But what fun would it be to tell you all about this beautiful book if we didn’t have any to share? This week, you can enter to win one of 5 autographed copies of Zero to Five! Enter for yourself, enter for that baby shower you’ve got coming up, enter to have a fun book to look at when your grandkids come over.
The Zero to Five Giveaway!
All Photographs in this post Copyright Betty Udesen / Pear Press.
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