Remember the Seahorse


“It’s the stuff nightmares are made of,” I say, shoveling a piece of chicken into my mouth.

“It’s creepy, but effective,” Jack adds.

We have friends over for dinner, and they’re expecting their first baby. Jack and I have a special fondness in our hearts for pregnant women and new parents, so he cooked up pasta and chicken and vegetables and garlic bread. We carb-loaded as we listened to Kevin and Michelle weigh in on names and talk about baby registries. It’s been nine years since we had a baby registry, and baby registry years are like dog years. Everything we bought for our eldest is now out-of-date or recalled or condemned by the American Association of Pediatrics.

Thankfully, Remmy is a well-adjusted eight-year-old, despite pacifier usage and the fact that she never owned a pair of teeny leather moccasins.

“You don’t even need to register for the weird seahorse,” I continue. “They magically show up at every baby shower. You’ll want to chuck it in the give away pile, but don’t. In your most sleep-deprived hours, you’ll be willing to shell out $100 for one.”

Keep the seahorse, we insist, like self-proclaimed wise parenting sages.

We’re in a completely different stage now, crowdsourcing advice on summer camps (forget the cost of diapers; here’s the real money suck), debating whether or not to join Girl Scouts (I had zero experience with this), and talking about puberty (God bless books with illustrations).

These days, we get a solid seven hours of sleep and drag ourselves out of bed at 5a. Jack makes coffee, I make tea, and he packs school lunches while I sit at the kitchen counter and start my to-do list for the day. We have a solid two hours before the girls get up, and two hours and forty-five minutes before we have to usher the eldest two out the front door where a very nice man in a big yellow bus brings them to school.

Last year, I’d get my workouts in at 5:30a, but during my three-month hiatus, Jack decided he was going to start getting up at 5a to work out. Today, we are at an impasse.

“What if you work out at five instead of five-thirty?” he suggests.

“The class goes from five-thirty to six-thirty,” I say. “Can you work out when I come back?”

“That won’t give me enough time to shower and get Min to school. Can you work out at lunch time?”

“I work during the day.”

“Don’t you make your own hours?” Jack deadpans. I am self-employed, after all. He has a point, I suppose.

The plus side, we’re both in our thirties and realizing that fast metabolisms of yore are … of yore. So Jack runs and plays soccer and I lift weights with a bunch of women a few times a week. (Truly, if you’re finding that you’re giving up after four minutes of working out in your living room, there is something incredibly motivating about being surrounded by people who are sweating and suffering right along with you.)

Dear new parent, I promise you that in a few years  you’ll be sleeping glorious seven hour stretches and you and your spouse will be negotiating over who gets to leave the house when it’s still dark to voluntarily sweat. In the meantime, naps for new parents are like cigarettes in prison. Hoard them. Barter for them.

“What if we get a babysitter to come from 5a to 7a Monday through Friday?” I suggest.

Jack rightfully ignores me. We’ll sort it out.

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  • Reply Elizabeth J February 21, 2017 at 11:22 am

    As a parent of a 6 month old after a 7 year hiatus of newborns, i had to click on your link to find out what the seahorse is. We actually have one except its a giraffe! I cracked up when I realized that because she really does love that thing to death. AND it really did just show up one day lol

    • Reply Roo February 21, 2017 at 11:31 am

      I clearly owe someone a thank you note and I have no idea who!

  • Reply Margaret February 21, 2017 at 11:45 am

    Keep the seahorse! Yes! Lol Still a fave of my not so toddler little one. 🙈 Not entirely the point of the (great) writing, but still. I’m indebted to the seahorse.

  • Reply Leah Butler February 21, 2017 at 12:57 pm

    We unabashedly worshipped at the altar of the vibrating chair for about a month in the infant years. It was the only way this mom and dad got ANY sleep during our offspring’s attempts to break us.

  • Reply Rachel February 21, 2017 at 5:41 pm

    Yup! My “baby” just turned 5 last week. It’s so fun how your world sort of opens up when your kids get older. Playdates and birthday parties are dropoff affairs, no long list of instructions for babysitters, and we can go out to eat as a family and actually enjoy ourselves! My little sister (she’s 32, but still) is having her first baby this spring and she’s constantly asking me questions. My memories have faded just enough and I’m proving to be quite useless when it comes to helpful suggestions!

  • Reply Christine February 21, 2017 at 6:55 pm

    Okay, I pride myself in those morning golden hours!! With a 5 yr. old and 20 mo. who are asleep by 7:30pm and up by 7am it’s the best time for ME time. The bedtime routine is so worth it and I’m so grateful it worked out for us. It took a lot of handwork and consistency, but game totally changed. At first, that time was used to just get ahead of boring household stuff, but now using it to be creative and do things for me plus my 5:30 am 3x/week work out feels good.

  • Reply Heidi Dyke February 21, 2017 at 8:29 pm

    I’M a pregnant lady these days! 23 weeks Sunday :)
    I’ve been meaning to go back and re-checkout your must-have lists…thanks for the links to make it easy on me! I’m crossing my fingers that becoming a mommy will magically transform me into a morning person.

  • Reply Katie February 22, 2017 at 7:09 am

    Eighteen weeks and I have about 7 things on my registry because it pretty much seems like everything (including the seahorse) has at least one review where it’s caught fire or expelled noxious gases or strangled the baby in its sleep with its fuzzy stuffed hands. I stupidly got married before cameras-in-phones were a thing, waited 11 years to have a kid, and now I envy parents who shopped in the days before Amazon Reviews. :/

  • Reply Maeghan L February 22, 2017 at 9:09 pm

    Aww the seahorse. My 6 yr old daughter still sleeps with hers and I love hearing the sound of it. During the newborn stage that 8 minutes of playing determined if she would stay quiet or if I had to go back in there. Naturally, when my son was born (now 3) we bought one for him. He hates it screamed as an infant and still does. Turn it off! How could he hate that sweet, sweet sound?!?

  • Reply Christina February 23, 2017 at 7:50 am

    I know most people think the Cry it Out Method is only for jerks who have no feelings and hate their kids…BUT the Method has made these early years very positive and enjoyable. My husband and I both require uninterrupted sleep to be nice human beings (huge character flaw on our part). However, we sleep trained at 13 weeks and 8 months respectively and our kids have literally slept through the night ever since. They’re currently 3 and 4. All my friends complain about how exhausted they are but they think CIO is inhumane…yes it was a horrible experience for the three nights it took but it has literally changed our lives for the better.

  • Reply Jen February 23, 2017 at 11:47 pm

    That seahorse is the real soundtrack to our lives since our oldest was born, over 8 years ago. He, oddly enough, preferred his seahorse out of the body from the time he was about 18 months. So it’s this weird, hard plastic, thing that looks more like Wall-E’s girlfriend, Eve, than an actual seahorse. Our youngest, now 5, sleeps with one that is usually still wearing a body.

    I can’t even imagine how many times I have heard, “One more seahorse?” during bedtime snuggles. Those seahorses have been on all of our family trips and on the occasional slumber party. I hear them every night at bedtime, and sometimes in my sleep.

    I will be sad when they no longer hold places of honor on our boys’ beds.

  • Reply Vera March 7, 2017 at 7:17 am

    Can you please tell me what books with great illustrations you are using to talk about puberty to your kids??? I need help. My daughter is 8 and I am at a loss as to where to begin #pleasesendhelp #ineedallthebooksicanfind

  • Reply Catherine February 8, 2018 at 10:13 pm

    Vera’s comment a month late to the game makes me feel less bad about commenting a year after the fact. I’m wondering, similarly, how you guys are approaching the puberty/sex talks with the girls. I love your old posts about privacy and visiting the gyn… fill in the middle part for us! My girl is only 4, but I’m starting to crowdsource to make sure we’re thinking ahead, making smart decisions, and empowering her!

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