Baby's First Thanksgiving

I couldn't wait to show off my newborn to my tias and primos. Turns out, I was quite naive about how much of a party my little guy could handle.

Yesenia Almonte and baby Sarah Kehoe

Before babies, my husband, Edwin, and I did double duty on Thanksgiving. Since our parents lived relatively close to each other, it was easy to visit both families (and I didn't mind the extra helping of pavo and pernil). So on the Thanksgiving after our first son, Hudson, was born, I stocked the diaper bag, checked and rechecked it, and off we went.

I'm sure someone had fun that day, but it wasn't me. Or Hudson. When we arrived at my in-laws' house, everyone wanted to hold him. The sounds of family members talking over each other, kids running around, and the dog barking overwhelmed him. I didn't want to say no to anyone waiting for a turn, and that was a big mistake. When Hudson finally landed back in my arms, he was inconsolable. My family then started heaping on the advice. The "I have more experience raising kids than you" and "I know what's best" tone threw me over the edge. Fellow Latina moms, are you with me? I think this will sound familiar to you! Part one of Thanksgiving: ruined.

But we did not give up. We headed to my mother's house and Hudson slept during the drive (which we were most thankful for). I rationalized that with no older children running around, or a loud dog, this meal would be the one I'd envisioned. Instead, Edwin and I took turns alternating between eating dinner and holding Hudson in a dark room, rocking and singing to him. He cried for three hours straight.

Hudson is now 3 years old and can handle a loud Latino celebration. More important, I've learned how to handle a loud Latino celebration as a mom. The pressure I felt from my elders fed into my new-mom insecurities that day. I know my family means well, but the deference that's expected to be shown to the opinions of parents and grandparents in my culture doesn't always align with my ideas about how to raise children.

    My solution is to take bridging these differences one step at a time. Our son Crosby was born recently, and we've put the word out that we've decided to celebrate Thanksgiving at mi casa! Our parents will bring their signature dishes, which makes everyone happy, and our children will be comfortable at home, making it easier for Edwin and me to catch up with family. Who knows if we'll always host, but we're thrilled that it works this year. Now, if only I had Christmas figured out ...

      Meet Yesenia!
      ¡Hola! I'm a mama to Hudson, 2, and Crosby, a newborn. I know what you're thinking: Hudson and Crosby? Those names are so gringo! They are, but I love them, and I want to raise bicultural niños. I'm excited to be in American Baby, where I can speak to the experiences of the 1 in 4 new U.S. moms who are Hispanic. Read more of my mami musings at my blog americanbaby.com/latina-mommy.