I like about writing for public consumption. This is opposed to, say, how I started out which was just forcing these missives on my grandmothers who are contractually obligated to find me fascinating.
I like to think that interspersed among the hilarious missives about how nature attacked me AGAIN and my complete inability to park properly, make bacon without setting the kitchen on fire, or not turn the swimming pool black if I leave it alone for EVEN 15 MINUTES (this is why we can’t have nice things), I do dispense some useful life and parenting advice.
If only to take note of what not to do.
One standard I have always set for myself is this. Do not scare young/new parents half to death.
I don’t know what it is about an expectant mother that makes veteran mothers want to tell her how childbirth was 700 hours of labor and the baby came out an elbow, how teens are possessed by the devil, and children will break your heart — but it does exist.
Then they start saying “just you wait until … they walk, talk, date, drive.”
To hear some people talk, parenthood is just one horror fest of uncomfortable predicaments and a bogeyman behind every door. For the record: that’s not parenthood. That’s middle school.
For the rest of us, parenthood is both somehow predictable and completely unique. For every story of the terrible twos, there is someone who barely survived the torturous threes (raises hand).
Preschool and elementary school were both endless, ENDLESS days that somehow also went by in a flash.
There were times I thought I would lose my MIND if I had to read another book, tie another bow or make another peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
Then I blinked and I didn’t. Gone are the days of glitter, glue and tying of shoes. Now my children are more likely to grab coffee than a crayon.
I miss those young days but then again, don’t. I like seeing who my children and their friends become. I like seeing who they choose to be close to — and why.
I also like telling people this: relax. Parenthood teaches you that life is, above all, unpredictable.
If you’re lucky, it’s something simple that makes a great story later on.
Both our children suffered from something that sounds terribly serious and really isn’t. They would pass out as infants and toddlers.
Terrifying, yes, but also became normal. They would go stiff as a board, eyes rolled up, lips turned blue and bam! — limp. They would come to almost as quickly, thank you Lord.
Both our children outgrew this affliction around age 4-5.
In truth, a decade later I barely think of it at all. Then my cousin’s youngest began suffering from the same malady (hello genetics!) and the fear and terror and overwhelming concern all came rushing back.
All I can do is pray and hope that our own experience and healthy children can set her mind at ease
The truth? Much like those horror movies and the aforementioned boogey man, parenthood can be scary.
One thing as a mother you don’t do as a mother is tell another her fears are unfounded. It is every mother’s right to worry as much as she wants.
It’s a process. We are now in the dating and driving phase of life and so far (knock wood!) I like that.
Do I worry about driving? Of course I do.
I worry about academics, college, contact sports and dating.
I worry about a lot of things. It’s not only my job as a mother but somewhat ingrained in my DNA.
I scare because I care.
Yet a stronger truth and what keeps the population going, I think, is this: parenting is also the most fun I have ever had.
Not every moment of every day, but overall, the track record is overwhelmingly good.
It is getting a chance to see the world fresh again. It is first steps, first bike, first love and birthdays, holidays, and everyday enjoyed all over again.
It is being impressed — and sometimes deeply surprised — at the person your child has become. It is realizing that there is something bigger — and better — than you that is also a part of you in the world and being glad for that.
Parenthood is not measured in hours of labor but hours and hours of life.
Accordingly, I don’t feel qualified to give much “advice” on parenting beyond this: Enjoy it.
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