Instructions Not Included
Being a parent is hard. I often wish children came with an instruction manual. Each personality is so different and finding the right way to get through to them can sometimes be tricky, especially without losing your cool. I am the mother of three children under age five and the youngest is four months old. My house is never quiet, which I often love and sometimes loathe. Ten years ago, I was out all night on the town and now, I’m up all night comforting a baby.
I would never go anywhere without my stilettos on, now pushing a double stroller is hard enough in orthopedic insert filled running shoes. I would give myself a facial once a week and lately, I consider at least three showers throughout the week a huge success.
Once in a while, I feel like an expert mother. I know how sturdy babies can be and am no longer worried I might ‘break’ my child. I know how to cope reasonably well on little to no sleep. I am able to keep everyone on track with their schedules, make healthy meals daily and balance the finances without the bat of an eye. I have become an expert breast feeder and am finally comfortable whipping ‘it’ out anywhere and everywhere when my baby is hungry.
These are all things I’ve learned with having three kids. Experience gives you confidence. With bookstores, Internet and health services, there are always resources available to get you the answer you need for your baby’s issue. Not to mention all the fantastic mothers I’ve met along the way that always have great advice to give by sharing their stories. In those early days with baby, a play date with another new mom can be a lifesaver. It always helps to know you’re not the only one going through it.
And yet, there are times when I feel like I have no idea what I’m doing. All three of my children have their own little personalities so helping each solve an issue has to be handled differently. And this is where I wish an instruction manual popped out alongside each baby, right before the placenta does.
I am learning that the most valuable trait a mother can possess is patience. You NEED to have patience. When you’ve had a long exhausting day and your four-year-old hasn’t even had three bites of his dinner – the dinner he specifically requested you make – you need to be able to not lose your cool. Yes, there are so many ways to handle a situation like this. You can make them something else. You can send them to bed hungry. You can even bribe them with just about everything to eat their dinner. But what is the RIGHT thing to do according to this child’s personality?
My husband and I don’t believe in being drill sergeants in our home. We want our children’s personalities to develop on their own with some occasional prodding. But I wish I knew the long-term repercussions of each disciplinary decision. I guess what I want to know is how they will turn out in the end. Will they be courteous, respectful and nice people or entitled little buggers? This, I realize, is asking for the impossible.
So I trod on, reading articles, doing research, talking to other moms and buying all the parenting books that come highly recommended. I’m very proud to be a mother of three little ones. I’ll be the first to say it’s no easy task. However, I not only WANT to do this, I want to do it RIGHT. I don’t believe in dumping them in front of the TV or having a nanny raise them. I have rolled up my sleeves and am getting dirty in hopes that it all pays off. In 30 years, when I look back, I want to know that whatever way they’ve all turned out, it was because I tried my hardest to raise good kids who became well-rounded adults. With a little luck and a load of hard work, that’s all I’m really asking for. I can only hope that the instruction manual that I’m seeking shows up in unexpected ways throughout life…a guardian angel of sorts.
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