So according to thebump.com, we are officially 30 days out from official parenthood – a sobering thought. Especially since we’ve just located our layette shipment and at least have our crib, stroller, car seat and baby “clo-tees” in hand, even though they’re still in their original packaging, unassembled and unwashed. Furthermore, we don’t even have a parenting theory, which apparently we need pronto before we scar our child for life with our lack of consistent approach. Someone asked me the other day if we were going to be attachment parents. Um, what? So needless to say, lots to do in 30 days. And that’s assuming, diplo-baby doesn’t have plans to get to the party early (though if this is indeed my child, coming to the party fashionably late is more like it.)
To jump start our baby preparations, our friends over a Symbol and Sustenance sent over this posting from alphamom chock full of mommy advice. I’m particularly partial to number 11 since it’s very much in line with the only mommy prep I’ve done. To date, I have memorized two mommy speeches that I figure will solve about 80% of problems (the good old 80/20 rule from consulting days). Speech #1: “Because I’m your mother, that’s why”, and Speech #2: “Don’t make me stop this car.” Now that we have a car, that one actually makes sense. Between those two speeches, which I figure should carry me up until the teen angst years begin at 14 or so, and the tips below, I think we’re largely set, attachments or no.
I have mostly learned from other mothers.
I have discovered over the years that mothering isn’t about the big issues: breast vs. bottle, to circumcise, or not, cry-it out or never sleep again… No, the things that matter most are the little things, the small lessons we pick up along the way. They are the legacy we pass on to our children. They are the things are children will remember us for, good or bad.
Here is a small list of lessons I have learned:
1: The color white should be avoided. At all costs. In everything. Walls, cars, bedding, towels, floors, and let’s not forget clothing. I had thought since my youngest is approaching six years old that I was past this rule. I put my favorite white summer skirt in the laundry room to handwash it. (Because it is not only white but also linen and really, I must be crazy.) My son came home with all of his sweaty, dirty, disgusting football work-out clothes and threw them on top of my beloved skirt. By the time I noticed the next day, my skirt had MOLD on it. MOLD. The lesson here, white leads to heartbreak. Brides wear white because once they get married and have children they will never get to wear it again. True story. It has nothing to with purity.
2: Baking cures all ills. There are no pains that some sugar, flour, and chocolate mixed together in some form can not assuage.
3: One day your child will shout that he hates you. Although you logically know this isn’t true, it will cut you to your core. Take solace in the fact that this means you are doing your job right. You aren’t your child’s friend. You are their parent. You probably hate you too, sometimes.
4: When your kids are behaving in a way that makes you least want to give them affection and attention, that is precisely when they need it the most.
5: The healing power of a hug. Hugs rank right up there with baked goods.
6: You can never have too many vases. If you are lucky they will always be filled with flowers. Sometimes those flowers will look an awful lot like dandelion heads. You will love them the best.
7: You have an infinite reserve of patience. Yes, you will be tested. Yes, there will be times when you think you are right at that edge of your sanity. But then your kids will push right over to the other side and you realize, with surprised joy, that you have not strangled them nor has your head popped right off. And at that moment, you should feel proud.
8: The loss of a child is something that you will never get over. My mother-in-law still mourns her child, who died 50 years ago, with an intensity I cannot even fathom.
9: Don’t worry what other people think of you. Don’t compare your inside to everyone else’s outside. Live your life in a way that makes you happy. You know the old saying: If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy. It’s true.
10: Make your words sweet, for you never know when you will have to eat them. Criticizing the way any of the children of your friends behave is a sure way for that behavior to be visited upon you by your own children. Ten fold.
11: You will say completely ridiculous things to your children. Just like your mother said to you. You will claim to have “eyes in the back of your head.” You will ask them if they “live in a barn.” You will threaten to “pull this car over right now!”
12: Don’t wait for your house to be perfect to entertain. As long as you have children it never will be.
13: You can never have enough pens or pencils. Considering affixing one to your counter otherwise you will never have one when you need it.
14: Cheerios. When your children are small you are required to carry around a container of them. Always. I am not sure if any kids actually eat the Cheerios. BUT THAT IS NOT THE POINT!
16: Never underestimate the healing power of a good cocktail at the end of the day.