I've been a mom for nearly 35 years, and I'm still learning how to do it. The problem is, my kids keep growing up and onward, and then I have to figure out how to best love and support at that point in time. It's an ever-changing adventure.
Having said that, there are some fascinating and marvelous things I've discovered that have proved to be invariable.
1. Nothing beats rocking a freshly bathed, sleepy, wrapped-up-like-a-sausage newborn.
2. Watching a baby taste a lemon wedge will always be funny.
3. Firstborns are saddled with unrealistic expectations and warped by their parents’ smothering adoration. When the full effect of that kicks in, therapy might be needed.
4. Sesame Street is a prime example of excellent family viewing.
5. Potty training is more fun when Dad encourages Junior to aim at Fruit Loops floating in the toilet.
6. Taping words all over the furniture really does help a toddler get an early jump on reading.
7. Anger management is a crucial, mostly neglected skill that everyone needs to learn, starting at age two.
8. Parents have to perpetuate some half-truths: 1. "This is the most beautiful turtle I've ever seen...." (the truth of that is you love it because your nine year-old made it.)
9. Viewing the X-ray of your seven year-old's fractured tibia due to a misplaced kick in a soccer game, you realize your best protective abilities will never be enough.
10. When the fire department arrives, the cookies are done.
11. Keeping the house clean and orderly ought to be secondary to having your children "help."
12. Matching socks are over-rated.
13. Show a budding daughter how to tweeze her eyebrows before she shaves them off in the shower.
14. Studying weekly vocabulary words over a bowl of popcorn makes for good memories (and excellent verbal skills.)
15. New shoes for the grand kids are one of the best gifts grandparents can give.
16. When Junior shaves his head for the school play.....relax. Like eyebrows, hair grows back.
17. Rocks can't plug a hole in a swimming pool liner.
18. No matter how often you tell your kids you love them equally, they don't believe you. Only God can remedy this.
19. Word problems are an unnecessary evil. Example: If the train station is five miles away, and Junior can ride his bike faster than any kid in the neighborhood, how many doughnuts will he buy at 7-11 on the way? Exactly.
20. French fries dipped in chocolate milkshakes aren't bad.
21. Teenagers need hugs, whether they want them or not.
22. Science projects are more about parents than kids. A baking soda volcano versus "The Molecular Structure of Acid Rain." Really?
23. You can tell your children repeatedly that they are precious, valuable, capable and smart. The world will tell them they are insignificant, worthless, incapable and dumb. They will believe the world. There is something wrong with this picture.
24. A hair dryer will not undo the damage after soda gets spilled on a laptop keyboard.
25. Fathers need to praise their children and reveal their tears. Forget the macho hoo-ha.
26. Seeing humility and compassion in your offspring is a greater reward than seeing achievement or success.
27. A new pocket knife has to cut something.
28. You don't really know what you believe, or what you'll fight for, until you have a child.