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In honor of B turning 10 (which is HUGE! I mean she's 1/10 of a 100 now. And 5 years from getting her permit!) and Z turning 8 soon I was thinking of things I have learned since becoming a parent 10 years ago. My girls have taught me these lessons.
1. If they're not your kids, shut the hell up!
Before I had kids I thought I knew EVERYTHING. I mean, I was well rested, could eat whenever I wanted to, used foul language to drive my point home and had experience babysitting other people's kids. Didn't that make me an expert? I remember being so judgmental about friends and relatives and how they were parenting their kids. After having kids, and doing some of the things I thought I never would I want to jump in a Deloreian and tell me 21 year old self to "Shut It!"
2. Nothing in Life is Fair.
Two kids, two years apart, very different kinds of little people. Trying to make sure they have the same number of Christmas gifts, equal amounts of ice cream, the same number of stories at night...only drove me crazy. Life is not fair or equally divided and I can't make it that way. Making choices based on who they are and what they like, not weighing it out, saves me a lot of anxiety. And it's a good life lesson as they climb towards adulthood.
3. You can do A LOT on A LITTLE Sleep.
For the first 5 years of being a parent I slept 5 consecutive hours maybe once per month. I loved having my little nursling in bed with me but I am a light sleeper. Which is safer for baby but not so much fun for mom. Yes, you can take care of one or two kids with 2 hours of sleep last night and a 30 minutes nap and get three of you fed. You can even pay a bill or do a load of laundry. You get used to not sleeping, you really do, and then when they finally do sleep through the night (B at 3.5 and Z...well, most nights she does), it makes the zzzz's you get so much sweeter!
4. Make It Easier.
I am not organized, or a clean freak, or on-top of things, as they say. If I hadn't breastfed my kids they might have never eaten, I could barely remember to take diapers with me when we went out. Here are a few things that made my life easier:
-Get a baby sling, it is God's gift to moms. Buy one, use it. I couldn't have mothered two kids in diapers without it.
1Ask for help or at least have a list on the fridge of things that need to be done (vaccum rug, grab the basic groceries form teh store, give dog his flea medicine, wash a load of laundry) and when someone asks what they can do point to the list.
1Sleep with baby. Take a nap when baby does.
1Make simple meals.
Don't make life harder than it has to be, you are raising a human being, for goodness sakes!
5. Remember the Moments
You have heard it before, "They will grow up so fast enjoy each moment". I am really reflecting on this one since I am pretty sure I just brought B home from the hospital like last week. And now she is 10, and 5 inches shorter than me, and can do math problems in her head, and roller skate like a whirling dervish, and walks away from me without looking back. The baby toes are gone, replaced by almost woman toes. The gummy grin is gone traded in for big smiling teeth. The baby fuzz that took forever to grow an inch is now 2 and half feet long. It went so fast, a blur of feeling too tired, to stressed, too overwhelmed while taking care of a baby, then a toddler, then a baby and a toddler, then a preschooler and on and on. It always seems like time is frozen when you are in the midst of it but it's an illusion. Each second is now part of our past. Each moment is either written down, captured on film or lost to the recesses of our mommy brains. Stop and enjoy whatever/wherever your kids are at, because soon it will be in the past.
6. Shit Happens
Usually it happens to wander outside of the baby's diaper onto your new skirt as you are walking into a restaurant. We have all had those moments that feel too big/too much. The kids won't cooperate when you have a deadline to be somewhere. You just used the last diaper and see baby making "that face" again. Your toddler just told Grandma that "mom has a pretty picture on her back" much to Grandma's chagrin. These moments will be laughed at later, maybe much later when you get some perspective. And the poop stories, those make great fodder when the kids start bringing home surly boyfriends!
7. You Think You Got It Bad?
I remember having one child and thinking the world revolved around us and I couldn't possibly make it to a 9:30am story-time because she would be taking a nap (and I didn't dare mess with my baby's precious naps)! Then I had two and my second usually slept on me or in a carseat while we were running here and there. Your life can feel very big and important when you forget there are so many others who have so many more worries and challenges. I thank God every night for the roof over our heads, food in our stomachs, clothes on our backs and our health. Tomorrow the things we consider basic could become luxuries at the drop of a hat.
8. Stop trying to Be Perfect
I hate the term SuperMom. It sets such a ridiculous standard for us to fail to reach. I am not always calm and gentle with my kids. I don't always get 5 servings of fruit and veggies in them. Sometimes, their clothes have a stain on them, although they have probably been washed. They go to church in mismatched outfits with cowgirl boots on. I try to really help them by teaching them life lessons, being honest, loving them as much as I can. If my cupcakes aren't perfect, if I can't volunteer every week in their class, if I forget to send their homework back (again) just realize that I possibly got a few things right that day. I probably got them in the car with both shoes on, I might have kissed and hugged them awake that morning, I possibly told them how amazing they are before they left the house. I do my best, most of the time, at least that's what I have to keep telling myself.
9. Stop Copying Me
When I hear my kids saying stuff I have said to them and it sounds so bad I feel so guilty. Kids absorb everything. And they will spit it back out. When my daughter uses that sarcastic tone with her sister, she sounds just like me. When my other daughter spilled her game pieces and said, "Shit." That was me. When they tell the ladies at church that their mommy still hasn't' decided on a church and doesn't really like this one, you will want to slap your hand over their mouth. So think before you speak or prepare to deal with the consequences.
10. If Anything Every Happens
Mentally I have prepared for some many scenarios. Disasters roll through my brain as I try to fall asleep or zone out in the car. What if the house caches on fire? What if there is civil unrest outside my door? What abotu that creepy man is following us? My first thought is always my girls. Where will we hide? How will I get to your rooms and get you out of the burning house? If we are attacked by zombies, how do I strap you to my body and make a run for it? I have even thought how to get my daughter and I the needed thyroid replacement hormone in dire circumstances...you don't want to know that plan!
My girls are my first and last thought. Being a mother is the hardest, most stressful, most beautiful, powerful thing I have ever or will ever do. I remember their first moment on this Earth, I remember how their eyes looked deep into mine. I remember how their heartbeat felt like the most perfect metronome to measure my life by. They are my deepest joy and the genesis of becoming who I am.
They are also what bring me to my knees most days. I beleive that after I tuck them into bed at night they are secretly taking online courses. Currently they are majoring in, "Bickering and Fighting 101", "Pushing Buttons", "How to Make Mommy Yell ENOUGH", and "What? Huh? 301".
But I love them, I adore them. I am proud of them. Thanks for the lessons girls. Whatcha gonna teach me next?