nope, not for star hubs- for me! as in “learning to be a mom on the job”.

allow me to explain:

before i had my first child, i knew everything about parenting. i would watch friends and neighbors with their children, and i would do a mental critique of their job performance. i had taken developmental psychology, after all. and i had been a kid myself. i even had 2 younger sisters, so i was pretty much all set to parent. (you will know if you are a parent, because you will be cracking up as you read this…)

my first child is a boy, so of course i set out to make him soft and gentle and gender-neutral. we watched no violent cartoons, and- get ready to shake your head in disbelief- i even censored his books. i remember one cat in the hat book where they shot snow spots with guns- i changed around that whole page! imagine my surprise when i saw my sweet baby toddler pick up a stick and point it and  say, “bang bang!” i dutifully bought him dolls and not army men, but- go figure!- he made weapons and forts and ” killed” everything in sight. ho hum. my boy was actually a boy.

fast forward to the next child: a girl. at this point i was a bit older and wiser, so i only cringed a little bit when my mother bought her every pink lacy ruffled flouncy outfit in the store. i just sighed when my girl baby held her older brother’s army men and sung them lullabies. i gave her lego to help her with spatial intelligence and she threw them all into a bucket and pretended to make soup.

several children down the road, i am still as clueless as ever (just ask my teenagers!). i still can’t keep track of how many minutes each person is on the computer (no fair, mommy- she got 19 minutes and i only got 16 nd 1/2!). i still mess up on bedtimes (ok, maybe i did let someone stay up until 10pm last night, but that doesn’t mean i set a new policy- it just means i was more distracted last night. oops!). i still make “disgusting”  meals like lasagna (everyone except for one person likes that) and serve “gross” stuff like cucumber slices (certain family members are offended that i even put them on the table). i ignore people sometimes- like right now when i am on the blog and one of my teenagers is sighing loudly in the background because she asked me some semi-pressing question and i am not responding in a timely fashion. my oldest swears he was working a part-time job at age 12, and my 13 year old can barely put his dirty laundry in the hamper. my 6 year old gets more spoiled because she is the baby, and everyone thinks we are totally clueless about something or other.

so, isn’t it great that parenthood comes with on-the-job training?

the hours are long and the pay is pretty bad, but we are trying bit by bit and day by day to do just a little better than we ever believed we could.

my husband and i are both the oldest child in our family, so we assumed that we were the “guinea pigs” and that our parents experimented on us so they could get it right with our younger siblings.

but as a parent i can tell you that all of my kids are guinea pigs. just when we have something mastered, a different child comes along with the same problem that needs to be handled in a completely different way. or the same child has the same problem, but what worked last time doesn’t have a prayer of working this time. everyone is a work in progress- including us.

so, i am trying to teach my kids that doing the best you can is sometimes just the best you can hope for. i am trying to teach my husband that i am pretty much always right. and i am trying to teach myself that i am barely ever right and that sometimes i have to just slow down and breathe.

one slogan i love is “slow is fast”. they use this catchy phrase in certain types of handgun training. you don’t so much pull the trigger, as you squeeze the trigger. by slowing down enough to eliminate mistakes, you end up with a faster and better overall record because you eliminated a lot of time that would normally be spent fumbling.

napolean bonaparte used to say to his servants, “dress me slowly; i’m in a rush” (although i’m guessing he said it in french and it sounded much more pithy). but, it’s the same idea: sometimes you need to slow down and be deliberate in your actions, rather than rushing and having to re-do something.

i’m trying to remember this in parenting and in life. slow is fast. when 56 million things are happening at once, i need to consciously remind myself to slow it down.

because i’m pretty much always in a rush 😉

and if i don’t stop and pay attention to my kids, they will just go ahead and grow up without me.

good-night 🙂