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Musings: Advice for New Parents

Today’s topic is: “Advice for new parents.”


When I was pregnant with my first baby, my mother and aunt threw me a baby shower and invited a handful of older women that I was friends with. With me well into my 30s and the other guests in their 60s (or 80s), the typical baby shower games (trying to identify the flavors of canned baby foods or races to┬áchange a doll’s diaper) didn’t seem appropriate. So instead, they went around the room and told stories of the early mishaps of being a new mom. One woman’s story in particular stuck with me.


My friend Sue and her husband were back-to-the-landers in the 1970s and 80s like my parents had been. One spring, they decided to earn some money by raising 250 chickens. They bought chicks and began feeding them so they would grow plump for butchering. But the food for that many birds was turning out to be pretty expensive.

An acquaintance of theirs with a slightly shady business history had come across several 50-pound bags of corn which he was willing to sell to them at a great price. So Sue and her husband bought all of them and returned home. As they poured the corn into the feeding bins, they noticed that it was a lovely shade of pink. They thought that maybe it was a variety of Indian corn, not as desired by the local crop farmers who were planting large acreage of feed corn, which is why it was so cheap.


However, a few days later, their supplier was arrested for unrelated shenanigans and Sue received a letter from the Department of Agriculture stating that the corn they had been feeding to their flock was coated in fertilizer and herbicide and therefore poisonous! The letter instructed them to destroy all of the birds immediately, send one to the lab for testing, and burn the rest. The letter also went on to emphasize that they should not attempt to eat any of the now-toxic chickens.

My poor friend Sue also told an unfortunate story of how she very carefully, with the utmost attention to detail, planted a long row of grape vines, upside-down.

So, while there will always be a long list of topics that new parents wish they knew about before their little one arrives, keep in mind that most of them aren’t as important as “Don’t eat pink corn!” and be sure you know which direction is supposed to be facing up.


Share your best advice for new parents in the comments.

~ Phoebe DeCook





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