The “Hindsight is 20/20” Advice I’d Give Myself About Parenting

Let’s face it. I’m a mom of an almost 5- and an almost 3- year old. I still have loads of preteen and teenager fun ahead of me. I’m really not in a position to be handing out parental advice. But, if I could give my first time pregnant self some advice, the following would be it:

  • Boys and girls are way different. Even more than you think.
  • Siblings are WAY different. Same family, same DNA – COMPLETE opposites in many, many ways. Learn to parent each child in the way they need.
  • It is not your business what other people think of you, your kids, or your parenting style. Ignore the looks and comments, especially of strangers.
  • Say “yes” more than you say “no”.
  • To quote Maya Angelou, “When your child walks into the room, does your face light up?” Even when you are tired and the deployment is long and you can barely  open your eyes – smile at them when they come to you. They look to our faces to know how they should feel about themselves. I’ve done this with my son (and then not done it) and the complete difference in his attitude, behavior and countenance is astonishing.
  • Keep trying, but know that perfection is an illusion. You’re already the perfect parent for the children YOU have. Even on the rough days, keep trying. Even when mistakes are made (and there will be TONS), try again.
  • Apologize to your kids. When you screw up – ‘fess up. It really is remarkable how even the little ones respond to an honest “I’m Sorry”. Plus, it teaches them that we aren’t perfect and just because we are grown-ups doesn’t mean we won’t make mistakes.
  • You really aren’t going crazy when you think you could kill them one minute, but completely melt and love them more than life itself the next.
  • You will be able to function on WAY less sleep than you ever dreamt possible.
  • You will never sleep as well as you did before being pregnant and having kids.
  • You will learn about subjects that you never really cared about, simply because it interests your child. (Construction vehicles are the current favorite in my house. My son loves words like hydraulic, crank shaft, crane boom, loader, etc.)
  •  Get used to peeing with an audience.
  • You will never be so certain as to what you will “always” and “never” do as a parent as you are right before you give birth. You can have it all mapped out and it’s all going to get blown to smithereens once that little person enters the picture.
  • Never say never. Or always.
  • The love you have for your children will knock you on your face. I feel like it’s the closest thing on Earth we have to getting a glimpse of what God must feel for us.

There’s my list. What about you? What parenting advice would you give your “before-kids-self”?


Priorities in Parenting: Biggies and Smallies

For my parenting journey, there are what I call the “biggies” and the “smallies”.  Biggies are nonnegotiables. Smallies are things I need to get over, let go of, or just not worry about.


  • Wearing what they want. One of the things I loved about growing up was picking my own outfits. It gives kids the ability to express themselves, be creative, and take ownership of a part of their world.  Why do we fight our kids on what they are wearing? Who cares if they wear pajamas all day? Yes there are times, say picture day for example, that appropriate clothes should be worn. But if you are just going to the store or hanging out at home, what difference does it make? It doesn’t reflect on you as the parent if they don’t match or look “perfect”.
  • The way they “help”. How else will a 4-year-old learn to do the dishes (or anything else for that matter) if we don’t give them the opportunity to spill some suds on the floor? Nobody does anything perfectly the first time. Why would we think our kids can? And just because they do something differently than the way I would do it, does that make it wrong? No, of course not.


  • Piercings/Tattoos. When they are adults – all bets are off. But until then, my kids can express themselves in all manner of non-permanant ways: Mohawks, long hair, baggy jeans, crazy clothes, ripped knees, combat boots, or whatever else may be in style by the time they are teens.
  • Media. I may regret putting this in writing, but as of right now, I see no reason that a grade schooler or pre-teen needs a cell phone, a Facebook account or a TV in their room. Perhaps I’m a bit prudish in this regard, but I feel like if we spend all their early years pushing them away, it will make it harder to reconnect with them when we will desperately need open lines of communication. And as for social media such as Facebook, shouldn’t the home be a place of refuge? It seems like Facebook could potentially be bringing all the bullying and “mean kids” crap into the house. Who needs that?! Being a kid is hard enough.

Perhaps I will change my mind as the kids get older. The biggies and smallies may change. Time will tell. Ultimately I’m finding that the less energy spent on the smallies saves energy for the biggies, for the stuff that really matters.

(And really, if I could get away with it, wouldn’t I love to be in pajamas all day long!?)

What are your biggies and smallies?

The Target Lady on a Good Day

Often I encounter horrific incidences of rude people making unsolicited comments about my parenting (or lack of) while out and about with the kiddos. On our recent trip to Portland, however, I sat in the Target Starbucks and wept.

Driving to Portland with a 4 and a 2-year-old, let me tell you, is not for the weak. The kids did great considering the length of the drive, but after 67 potty stops, stopping for dinner, listening to The Wheels on the Bus and 5 Little Monkeys 7 thousand times, I was ready for them to fall asleep and soon they did. For just  a bit I relished belting out my favorite tunes without someone asking to turn it off or change it or telling me about how “He’s looking at me and I don’t like it!”

We make it to our hotel, I check us in, we grab our suitcases and head to the room. (Randomly enough, this was the part of the trip I was dreading. Out of habit, Eric is usually the one that gets us checked into a hotel. Not that I can’t do it, but it’s just easier for one of us to sit in the car with the kids and the other handles the details. Maintaining behavior in a crowded hotel lobby while trying to conduct business was just asking for disaster, or so I thought. The kids did great.)

Our room had one of those ginormous bathtubs right in the room! The kids were in heaven! The irony was not lost on me that I would KILL for a nice long hot bubble bath with a good book and a glass of wine, but if I even attempted it, they’d jump in with me and that would defeat the purpose. The kids did enjoy a “big bath” and then we headed to the pool for a late night swim/get the sillies out session.

The next morning before meeting up with friends for breakfast, I find a Target store to kill some time. (We are early risers and to quote a text I got from said friend, “Are you crazies up already?”) It was a rough morning. Kids were a bit out of sorts, wanting to go to the pool, Jake didn’t want to do this or that, then he didn’t want to be in a cart, but wasn’t listening, grabbing at juice boxes etc., etc. so in the cart he goes while I order a (strong) cup of coffee and something for the kids. Both kids are wailing by this point and if I didn’t get my coffee soon I was going to wig out. I am a better mommy with a cup of joe.

We get our beverages and I release them from Target cart exile. We sit down and Jake is still crying and says, “I miss my daddy.”

Kill me now.

It always comes out of left field and I never see it coming. “I know, honey. We’ve had a rough morning. But you know what? Daddy is almost at the end of his big work trip. He will be home soon. Right now though, we get to see our good friends from Hawaii. So why don’t we turn the page, and start a new part of our day?”

He comes and sits next to me and I rub his back.

“Why don’t we pretend we didn’t have such a rough morning. Let’s enjoy our milk and Mommy will enjoy her coffee and let’s go visit the toys for a bit while we wait to see when we’ll meet up with our friends.”

“Okay. That sounds good.” He has started to return to his normal happy(ish) self and the three of us chat about what the day had in store for us.

Then over walks the Target employee and I brace myself. After some of the comments I’ve received, I think over the past 15 minutes and mentally check myself for what I possibly could have said to offend her.

“Thank you. Thank you for being a kind parent. We see many parenting styles in here as you can imagine. You are a good mom,” she tells me.

And there I sat in the Target Starbucks and I just let my tears fall. It was a rough morning and it’s been a rough year with Eric gone. I knew we were seeing our dear friends, but I also knew that another hard “see you next time” was only three days away. It all just kind of hit me. I thanked her for her kind words and celebrated the fact that she’d caught me on a “good day”.

Parenting Encounters

Lately I’ve had some interesting encounters while parenting in public. Let me rephrase that: Since my children were born I’ve had crazy encounters while out and about.

Most recently on a really crappy day, I was rudely told in a grocery store to teach my child to count apples somewhere else because I was “in the way”. (Which I was not, in fact, in the way at all.) From the time my daughter was an infant, in head-to-toe pink, I’ve been asked, “How old is your little boy?” or “Oh, what a strapping young lad!” REALLY?! Apparently pink and bows no longer let a person know that your child is a girl. At least not at my grocery store.

I’ve been informed that my child is going to fall out of the grocery cart and that I “should really make that kid mind”.

In the bank I was told to “keep my kids downstairs, this is a place of business“. (Granted that one was kind of deserved, but the rudeness was not).

While my sister had my kids, as well has her two daughters, playing at the park one day, a nice gentlemen was kind enough to take the time to roll down his window and say to her, “Wow. You look like you got your hands full.” Chuckle chuckle. Then he rolled up his window. No “Hey, do you need a hand?” or “Is there anything I can do?” Just unhelpful commentary from an unwanted peanut gallery.

What is the deal with people?! I understand the looks from people who have never had kids. I used to GIVE those looks. Parenting is a piece of cake if you aren’t one. What sets my hair on fire are the people who feel the need to comment/narrate/tell me what to do/point out what I’m doing wrong etc. Then there are those folks who just laugh. Nice. How the heck is that helpful? On some level, I do understand how comedic it must be watching my circus act/parade as we are on an outing, but please, I beg of you – keep your laughter discreet and to yourself. It doesn’t do me any good, and basically confirms the feeling that I am sucking at this parenting thing.

I read this article yesterday about parenting on Steve Wiens’ site (you can read it in its entirety here) that said this:

“Put your hand on their shoulder, look them in the eyes, and tell them that they’re doing a good job. Just don’t freak out if they start weeping uncontrollably. Most of the time, we feel like we’re botching the whole deal and our kids will turn into horrible criminals who hate us and will never want to be around us when they’re older.”


So today, I stopped at our favorite frozen yogurt joint (froyo if you are cool like my 4-year-old and my neighbor!) We were the only ones there. I was getting the kids’ toppings and saying the usual stuff:

“Don’t breath on the toppings.”

“Cover your mouth.”

“Wait for me, Mommy will do it.”

“Don’t Touch.”


“Find a table and wait for me to bring it to you after I pay..”

Happy with their concoctions and spoons happily lapping up yummy flavors, the owner and I chatted for a bit as we ate. As we got up to leave she said this to me:

“I have to tell you. There are A LOT of kids that come in here, and yours are probably the most behaved I’ve seen. I can tell you work very hard at it.”

I wept. And I’m weeping a bit now as I write this. So much of parenting and life in general is flying by the seat of your pants and hoping you’re making the right decisions. After the crazy encounters we’ve had, this one was needed.

Thank you, Froyo lady. Thank you.

This tired mama needed that today!


Sick day: Things To Do

I am the worst sick person ever. Truly. It’s been 5 days and 14 hours since I woke up with this crud and I just want it over. (Yes, I am whining once again about my FWPs.)

Since I have imposed a do-not-share-the-germ-love edict that keeps us home-bound, we are all climbing the walls. The climbing started on day 3 and has been steadily increasing. This, coupled with minimal adult interaction and conversation, has led me to create a list of things to do/not do when sick! Enjoy!

Do drink lots of fluids, eat soup and get lots of rest.
Do not get sick while hubby is deployed.

If your body doesn’t cooperate and you do fall ill while hubby is deployed, don’t let your kids get sick simultaneously!

Do take naps. (When you can breathe while horizontal.)
Don’t let the kids nap for 3 hours, they will make up the time by being awake far too late.

Do get some fresh air, in small doses. Easy does it.
Do not let your medicine kick in giving brief relief from symptoms and then attempt to mow the lawn and run.

Do use a humidifier.
Do not underestimate the magnetic pull of said humidifier on a two-year-old. Wet carpet is no fun and you don’t need another thing to wipe up when there are snotty noses in abundance!

Do fly paper airplanes, read books, do puzzles, and play games.
Do not let your 4 year old make such aerodynamic planes that he can fly them off the banister right into your eye. (Yes, this happened. Twice.)

Do remember that a cold won’t last forever, the day only has 24 hours in it, and they WILL eventually sleep. As will you. (I have to keep reminding myself!)

Here’s to a healing and restful night’s sleep. And a hopefully not-too-early morning!

%d bloggers like this: