I've been doing this mother thing for almost twenty-one years now. That fact frightens me in and of itself. In the first place, the thought that I've been a mother for twenty-one years means I'm ... older ... than I used to be. I don't like facing that fact. That's why I try to avoid looking in the mirror wherever possible.
But there's something else that bothers me. I mean, think about it for a minute. If you met someone on the job that had twenty-one years of experience, what would that say to you? That many years of experience would say that person knew a lot about the product and/or company. They had encountered almost any situation that could come up on the job. That they were a leader in the field.
Not so with motherhood. My fourth child has started their teenage years. Fourth. This is our third teenage boy. There should be few surprises. I should know what to do by now. But unfortunately, each of my children insist on having their own personalities and doing things their own way. And each time I find myself stumbling along, trying to figure out what works with this child. Whichever one I'm dealing with at the moment.
Having said all that, there's still the fact that I've been a mother for two decades. I do have some experience to offer. And what good is everything I've been through if I don't share it? Okay, it may not be any good to anyone else, but I'm going to share it anyway. So here it is: a few tips on motherhood:
- Kids will not die if they don't get their way.
- A structured schedule is smart, but if you never vary it, your kids will never learn to roll with the unexpected in life.
- It's okay to have ice cream for breakfast as long as it's not a regular part of the morning menu.
- It's harmful to your children when you try to fix everything for them.
- They need to know that actions, both good and bad, have consequences that they have to live with.
- Kids need to know how to communicate. Sullen attitudes, pouts and frowns are not communicating. Don't let them get away with that.
- Kids need to know that life is sometimes not fair. And they need to get over it.
- Injuries happen sometimes, and they make great playground conversation. There's no reason to panic if a bandaid or two will fix it.
My kids have taught me a few things too:
- Live in the moment.
- Many times their differences can be settled without adult interference.
- Sometimes adult interference makes things worse.
- They will grow up too quickly, and twenty-one years will pass in the blink of an eye.
- Even small, silly things can be incredibly wonderful and important.
- Life hurts sometimes when you were growing up. You'll feel the hurt even more as they pass through those times.
- You only have so much time with them as children. Make the most of every moment.
And I'd better stop there before I get all misty-eyed. None of these things are earth-shatteringly brilliant. And if you're a mother, you probably already know this. I just felt like I had to say it. Let me leave you with one final piece of advice:
If you're struggling with potty-training or weaning them off a bottle or pacifier, there's always hope. Someday they will start kindergarten, and peer pressure can be a wonderful thing. I guarantee you that by the second day, the pacifier will be left at home.
Of course, it might take them until college to get over the fallout of taking their pacifier to school on that first day.