Let the Baby Drive : Navigating the Road of New Motherhood

By Lu Hanessian

Lu Hanessian's book, Let the Baby Drive: Navigating the Road of New Motherhood, lovingly accounts the throng of feelings that come with motherhood from the joy of the baby's first smile to the awkwardness of breastfeeding in public and everything in between. It's not a baby book like a Dr. Sears (who I admire and read) or "What to Expect", it's a real life account and Hanessian writes from her own experience and documents her first years as a mother to Nicholas and then Ben with a balance of wisdom and humor. In, Let the Baby Drive, Hanessian struggles to find her mothering intuition, buried beneath advice books, the media, and well-meaning friends and family. I too fight an internal battle with the many influences of society every day, over a parenting belief that one source or another claims is the “correct way“ versus my penchant for “making it up as I go along” otherwise known as mother’s intuition. Lu Hanessian seems to agree that sometimes, our intuition just feels a great deal better.

Excerpt from Let the Baby Drive:

Even the most responsible, educated, unbiased doctors still have their opinions about parenting, and parents always have choices. So to the new mother sitting in the waiting room with her four-week-old waiting to ask someone if it’s alright to let her baby cry, I ask this: what do you think?

After six months with her son, she decides to let the baby drive and let his cues guide her. She believes that needs and wants do equal for an infant, and it’s ok to need mommy so much. Hanessian learns to lovingly respond to her son's needs, letting go of questioning the validity or importance of his needs.

The book, Let the Baby Drive, is entertaining yet it captures the reality that parenting can be daunting and parents have uncertainties at times about how to raise their children. It inspires confidence to trust motherly instinct and not to be dictated by what everyone else says or thinks.

Excerpt from Let the Baby Drive:

Nurturing my son's imagination does more than cultivate his originality and vision. It offers him a whole value system, not regarding the price of things, but rather what the heart is worth. This becomes apparent one morning at the toy store, where we are browsing for a friend's birthday present. Nicholas falls in love with a four-foot-tall "horsey on a stick" that whinnies when you press his ear.

"Can we bring Horsey home?" he asks me, gazing tenderly at its mane.

"No, honey, Horsey has to stay here," I say. My son begins to cry that big, open-mouth cry, where I can see his back molars. "But you know what he told me?" I whisper to him in a close huddle.

"What?" he asks, suddenly seized with curiosity. "He told me that as much as he would love to come to our house, he really wants to stay here with his family. And he said you can visit him here."

"O-h-h-h," he says calmly. "Buh-bye, Horsey. Have a good day." His imagination fills in the blanks. It speaks of empathy and compassion, of family bonds, of home, of the feelings of inanimate objects. It turns a stuffed toy into a horse with a heart. And it lets a boy put aside his own need to get in favor of his need to give.

I realize that I've had to respect Nicholas's imagination, to honor it, before I could ever understand the countless ways in which it could serve him as a child--or me as his parent. Nourishing his love of learning, dreaming, and creating means that I put his imagination before his fleeting fixation on a toy bulldozer. Somehow, because I value his ideas more than any item, he never gets the feeling that I am rejecting his wishes or depriving him of his heart's desire.

As my son grows through toddlerhood, he is processing the distinction between wanting and having. And as I grow through parenthood, I am learning to use both our imaginations to acquire things that money can't buy.

Let the Baby Drive is part comedy, part self-help, and part inspirational. Most importantly, many of the same types of situations that I have experienced with my daughters were discussed in the book, with ideas and thoughts that were both inspiring and calming. I would definitely recommend Let the Baby Drive to a parent, and particularly a new mom.