Sage Malibu moms’ advice to new mothers

Elise Vazelakis (right) with her four children, from left: Helena, Marie, Alex and Nicholas. Unconditional love, Elise says, is an important part of being a mom. Photo by Dimitri Vazelakis

Experienced Malibu moms’ best advice to new mothers: relax, and enjoy.

By Bridget Graham-Gungoren / Special to The Malibu Times

Many joke about the humorous evolution that happens to mothers-they change from paranoid and neurotic during their first child’s adventures, to calm and at ease during that second or third child’s escapades.

The saying goes that if the pacifier for the first baby falls on the floor the new mom doesn’t allow it to go back into the baby’s mouth until it has been washed and boiled. The second child may get it washed with some juice from the bottle. By the third child, mom just wipes it off on her shirt, and it goes right back in.

An e-mail circulating with this very scenario, by an unknown author, started us thinking … how do moms change and what advice would they give to new moms?

Elise Vazelakis is mom to four children and said, “I have given up a huge amount of control.”

Vazelakis, married to husband Dimitri for almost 20 years, of course, provides boundaries for homework and bedtime, but relinquishes control on clothing and how they look. “By the fourth, you can’t, nor do you want, to control.”

She shared that with her first child; she only used cloth diapers, breastfed, and only let the child wear cotton. By the fourth, “it was formula, disposable diapers … whatever worked,” she said laughing.

Her advice to new moms is, “Don’t make yourself crazy!”

She said that most moms want perfection in the beginning, but one learns. “Every child is different, every parent is different, every household is different,” she said. “You do what is right for you.”

Vazelakis also added, “It is a complete joy to have a child, and it goes by fast.”

Maria-Flora Smoller, who is mom to five children, said that she would tell a new mom, “Don’t sweat the small stuff.”

She said if you let them [your children] find their own way, “they can do it, they can figure it out.”

Smoller, married to her husband of 15 years, Tony, said she has become stricter in some areas, but has learned to pick and choose her boundaries differently; she lets them eat what they want-she just supplements their meals with vitamins.

She said she used to set up play areas for the first child. Then, as she had more children, they were set up differently. Now she doesn’t need to set up the play areas anymore. “By the fifth, there is so much going on!”

They all have each other now, she said. But even so, she talked of the importance of making time for all five. “My life is for them, so I take my moments,” Smoller said.

Lauren Sorochinsky is mom to three children and has been married to her husband, Michael, for 13 years.

“With the first, there was so much to learn … you’re so fearful of making mistakes,” Sorochinsky said.

“I thought, if I didn’t change his diaper, he wouldn’t go to college,” she said laughing.

When Sorochinsky was pregnant with her second child, she realized it wasn’t the end of the world if she made mistakes or relaxed; she learned balance. “With more kids, I gained more confidence.”

When Sorochinsky was asked about the pacifier anecdote, she joked, “[Sometimes] you might think, aah, it’ll make ’em stronger.”

But her advice to new moms would be to “just listen to everyone and let them all have their say. Thank them, walk away and do whatever feels good … it’s important to figure it out for yourself.”

In the end, Sorochinsky said, “It’s between you and your family, trust your instincts … and it’s important to respect your children.”

Mom to two, and married to her husband, Bruce, Kathy Wisnicki said she definitely notices a difference between her approaches to her first child and her second child. “With the first one, you are learning,” but with her second child, she said she feels she is more at ease.

“It’s been there, done that,” Wisnicki said.

She is careful to point out that each child is an individual.

“It’s important not to overlook the important little moments,” Wisnicki said, and as the children get older, she said she “learns to go with the flow.”

Wisnicki’s advice to new moms is to set the tone of the family. “If the mother is relaxed, then the kids are … they [too] learn to go with the flow.”

And all of the moms echoed the same sentiment-they would tell new moms that it goes fast and there is a lot of fun to be had.

“There is a lot of laughter … and the time is so fleeting,” Smoller said.