When it comes to parenting, I’m very aware that I don’t have all the answers and I’ve never been one to shy away from asking for help when I need it. Throwing a Big Gulp of ice water in my face? Hmmm, since we’re not allowed to pop them in the nose---not to mention that I have never hit anyone in my life---yeah, no clue! Telling me to “go suck somebody’s &!@#”? After I picked my jaw up off the ground and asked where he heard such talk (“at school”, charming!), again, no clue. And, UGH, the girl drama starts so young these days . . .
The best, most freeing advice I ever got came from a friend who was a child development specialist and had two very cool grown daughters of her own. An “expert” if ever I knew one (and, believe me, between all the therapists, adoption specialists, psychologists, and psychiatrists I know a lot of them).
When my daughter first came home at 18 months, she was terrified of the car seat. After 2 weeks of cabin fever, not leaving our cul-de-sac, I was climbing the walls. Then my friend, let’s call her Big Sarah, came to visit (and secretly use her Super Child Development Training Skills to check out my newly adopted daughter---who tested beautifully despite her shaky beginning in Haiti). After listening to me moan and groan about being trapped indoors for 14 days, she calmly said, “Sometimes being a parent is boring.” That was exactly what I needed to hear! We’re bombarded with sweet, fleece-lined images and platitudes about being a mother---and those things are clichés for a reason, being a mom is a wonderful, loving, amazing experience---but sometimes it sucks! And when you’ve been cooped up in your cul-de-sac for 2 weeks, it kinda sucks! Hearing those 6 simple words brought out from the dusty, cob-webbed furthest corners of my brain . . . EMOTIONAL HONESTY!
According to expert(s), it’s perfectly okay if I don’t always feel all sunshine and rainbows about motherhood! I’ve never loved anyone, or been loved, like I love my daughter . . . and I never knew what 24/7 really meant until I had kids. Sometimes being a mom is the best thing ever, and sometimes it’s not. Yahoo, I’m free!!! After the expert left, I crammed my ramrod-stiff baby girl into her car seat, screaming and crying (she was screaming and crying too) and proceeded to walk around Fred Meyer like a crazy woman with a huge smile plastered across my face; I had never been sooo happy to grocery shop in my life. Then about halfway to the car on the way out it dawned on me, “oh shit! I have to get her back in, only now the people around me won’t understand and instead will call DHS . . .” Fortunately she popped right into her car seat with no issues at all and our trip to Fred Meyer was a grand success!
The second great piece of advice I got on mothering came from my father. I am the fourth generation of single moms to all girls, so a 7-year-old boy was a complete mystery to me. One day we went to my dad’s house for lunch just after my son had come home to live with us. We were playing in the living room and when Grampa called us in for lunch, I was dumbfounded when my son dove head-first onto the couch’s seat, and proceeded to flip over the back, spraying pillows around the non-child-proofed living room. “Santo! Don’t jump on the couch, those pillows could have . . . ” My dad looked at me like I was a fool and said, “Duh, mom. Why would you walk around a couch, when you can just as easily---and more quickly---flip over it?!” Oh man, I have a lot to learn about parenting a boy.
So, my biggest lessons: Emotional honesty is vital to your sanity---and your parenting. And boys are so much louder, dirtier, and physical than girls.
Ooooooooooooooooooooooooooohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhmmmmmmmmmmmmy god, what happened to my babies and who are those big kids riding on the Kamikaze for the third time?!?