There are a lot of blogs on the Internet these days about parenting. Many of them come at motherhood or fatherhood from the angle of, am I a good parent? They are funny, honest and self-deprecating. I wish they had been around when I was raising kids but one thing I did have were good friends. We would share our parenting mistakes over a glass of wine knowing the stories would never leave our circle of friends, for fear of being judged by those "other" mothers. We helped each other through our parenting years and always knew we could call one another when the shit really hit the fan. If blogging about the true stories of parenting was politically correct a decade ago, these are some of the stories I would have blogged about:
I left my kids alone for the first time at the ages of 11 and 9 so my husband and I could celebrate our anniversary at a restaurant. Many people looked at me askance and asked, "aren't they kind of young to be left alone?" But my 11 year old was highly competent and capable. So highly capable that she and her sister decided they didn't like the food I'd left them for dinner. They raided their piggy banks, got the Chinese takeout menu from the junk drawer and ordered a delivery of General Tso and chicken wings. We lived in a 300-year-old house with no doorbell and one dim, inadequate lamp by the end of the driveway. I have no idea how the elderly Chinese man who delivered their order found his way to the back door or what he thought when two little blonds paid him with a few one dollar bills and mostly change. If he had heard of Pippi Longstockings, which I'm sure he hadn't, he would have known he'd just arrived at Villa Villekulla. When my husband and I arrived home a few hours later, saw the Chinese leftovers in the fridge and finally, after much hemming and hawing, got the full story, we realized we could have been saving money on babysitters much sooner.
I was the kind of mother who was always just winging it. My husband and I were never good at keeping a schedule, so our kids never had a schedule. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree, as my mother-in-law always said. And she would know, she was the mother of nine. If one of my kids fell asleep while I was finishing payroll for a restaurant, great, who cares if it's five o'clock and this will mess up bedtime. We'll deliver the payroll at eight, after dinner. My kids were ignition babies; turn on the key, pull out the driveway and boom, they're asleep.
I honestly do not remember potty training either one of them. It just sort of happened. It's not like they're some kind of magical kids or anything, but they were out of diapers by two and a half and I have no advice to give you, as I never trained them.
I was the mom who was balancing a client's check book while my kids scurried around the playground. Play dates were a life saver. Your daughter wants my daughter to come over for the day? Awesome, here, take her. I have to drive to Boston for work. But somehow the kids always wanted to come over to our house. One day, I found my daughters and their friends throwing Barbie dolls out the upstairs window, then racing downstairs to rescue them. A triage unit had been set up on my bed, naked Barbie dolls wrapped in toilet paper with red magic marker blots. The Barbies were recovering from the wounds they had suffered after falling out of the second floor window. Fortunately no kids fell out of the window, as I had been busy in the kitchen with someone's financial statement. When the "other" mothers showed up, I just smiled and said "they had so much fun together".
To the awesome writers out there working the blogosphere, I am here to tell you the teenage years are guaranteed job security. Little kids, little problems, big kids, big problems. I'm not going to lie to you. These years were tough. But both my kids are fine and living in Colorado now. I am flying to Denver this week to move my eighteen year old from her dorm in Denver to her summer job at Yellowstone National Park. My daughters are independent, self-sufficient, adventurous young women. They handle their problems on their own and when they fail, which sometimes they do, they pick themselves up and try again. As one of our favorite childhood books pronounced, "it could be worse". "Or as a Sufi poet once said, "this too shall pass." Or you can read a few of the blogs I really enjoyed, written by Jason Good, Brenna Jennings, Amber Dusick, and Aidan Donnelley Rowley.