Tuesday was my oldest child’s birthday. She is 14. It was a monumental day for me, too. It marks the anniversary of the day I became a mom. I remember it well. Not really. A big portion of the day is a huge blur. What I do remember is the terror that clutched my heart as I realized I had created this little creature, and now I was responsible for keeping it alive. I was a different parent for her than I am for the two boys. Experience teaches you things, if you are paying attention. I was very, very intense in those days. I was terrified to make a mistake for fear of screwing her up forever and ever. I now realize that we all gift our children with our own special brand of crazy. Perfect isn’t necessary. We just need to be good enough. Here are a few things I have learned over the years.
1) Choose carefully the clothes you want to give birth in. You will never, ever wear them again. Ever. Ever. Seriously. Some stains are just not meant to come out. Took me three babies to learn this.
2) Baby fingernails and toenails grown at the speed of light.
3) Tiny fingertips bleed like a son-of-a-pup when you cut the nail too short.
4) Biting off your baby’s nails isn’t bad parenting.
5) No toddler ever died from eating mac and cheese 6 meals in a row. Off the floor.
6) Too many sweet potatoes will make your toddler turn orange. Like an Oompah Loompah.
7) Pediatricians find it very funny when panicked mommies rush in their orange toddlers thinking they have jaundice.
8 ) Toddlers fed too many sweet potatoes take about a week to resume a normal hue.
9) Babies usually say “Da-da” first, but that doesn’t mean they will call him in the middle of the night. If they do, it is because they are expecting transport to the Mothership. As in “Da-da! Come here right now and take me to Mommy!”
10) A baby may not eat broccoli for love nor money, but you better put the cat food WAY out of reach.
11) Don’t buy clothes that you mind getting stained (for you or the kid). That is where the grape juice will land. Every time.
12) Buying second-hand clothes doesn’t mean you are a bad parent.
13) Use the date stamp feature when you take pictures of the kids. You’ll forget how old they were.
14) Carry a little notebook and write down the funny stuff as soon as they say/do it. You’ll forget it.
15) Review your little notebook often.
16) A child can grow up to be a productive member of society without ever once having gone to an enrichment program.
17) Crumbs in the butter never hurt anyone.
18 ) A gummy smile can melt the heart of a grown man.
19) A grown man whose heart is melted by a gummy smile is often worth hanging onto.
20) Not everyone is cool with you sniffing your child’s behind in public.
21) Think before you act. If you grab that booger out of your little one’s nose, it is helpful to have a plan for where to put it.
22) Toys with small parts breed when left in the living room floor. The same is true for pennies and cat hair.
23) You might not be overwhelmed with love for the baby the first week or two. It’s hard to love something so scary. It will come.
24) When you head out on that long road trip, you will regret not putting off toilet training for another few weeks.
25) Each child will be your favorite. For different reasons.