Parenting-thing

Never Trust A Parenting Book

Never trust a parenting book…if the author has no kids. Or even just one kid.

With one kid you can figure them out for the most part. Correct the child and they usually obey. If they don’t, a well-placed I’m-your-mother-obey-me-now look will do the trick. They don’t stick their fingers in the light sockets after you’ve disciplined them once. Or five times. Or ten times. They eventually listen…and stop trying to eletrocute themselves.

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Only children have no one to have screaming matches with…for fun or in fury. No one is touching their stuff. They can play with their toys that have tiny pieces wherever and whenever they want…not just in a loft bed during quiet time so the younger can’t try to aspirate a Shopkins yogurt cup. They may not have the insatiable desire to put everything in their mouth.

You might be rolling along with your single child, thinking smugly you’ve got a handle on this parenting thing. Sure, it might be more work with more kids, but the discipline thing you’ve got down. Lots of love, right?

Then comes #2. And even though you have tried so many different methods of correction–from sternness to clapping to smacking a chubby hand to yelling in an attempt to scare them into obedience–they STILL pop those socket covers out and try to shove their two-year-old fingers into it. EVERYTHING goes in the mouth. Shoes, the cat’s tail, dirt (so much dirt), EVERYONE’S toothbrushes, those socket cover safety-thingies, poop-covered fingers. Oh, and that was just today.

Yep, if you’re going to read a parenting book make sure it’s at least written by someone with multiple children. And at least one who is “the wild child.” The one who has no fear. Who you honestly wonder if they have a hearing problem because they are so good at ignoring you calling them…and then they come running when they hear the whispered word “cookie.” The one who takes off running in a parking lot if they are not physically tethered to you. The one who thinks it great fun to reach in the back of the diaper and pull out handfuls of poop…you know why? Because they know it might lead to a bath.

If you only have one kid right now, I’m sorry. You might get two doe-eyed angels who respond to discipline just as you wish. But if you get a kid like my crazy Kenna, hang on. You’ll need every book, Focus on the Family broadcast and ounce of grace you can get your hands on.

The good news is that cuteness seems to be in proportion to how much grace a child needs. Kenna is irrevocably loving. Beyond adorable with her blonde curls and large blue eyes and her own toddler language and voice inflections. Devoted to her big sister and copying her every move…even moving her sit and spin so close to Tatum’s that they can’t even spin around properly. She is an expert snuggler–when she wants to be–and is the best and easiest sleeper you could ask for.

So before you load up on the next thing in parenting philosophy, make sure it’s written  by someone who spends 12+ hours a day on average with multiple children. Someone who knows that one discipline style–which made your firstborn straighten up–will make your second look at you with a twinkle in their eye like, “you’re so cute for trying to stop me” and test (and blow up) every limit of your patience.

You don’t quite realize how easy parenting one kid is…until you have two. But as wild and crazy and uncontrollable as #2 may be, you can’t imagine life without the crazy sauce.

Now someone tell me what #3 is like…

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Writing

Because of, not in spite of

As I sat on the toilet with Kenna in my lap trying to jam her fingers into every orifice in my face chanting “OKAY! OKAY!” and Tatum climbing on the heaps of clothes in Matt’s closet singing a made up song about climbing mountains in Colorado, and Roy literally laying on my feet, I realized other people might see the humor in this like I do.

And I realized I missed writing and sharing the funny, aggravating, and crazy mundane things that happen every day. I was reminded of a distinct memory, being pregnant with Tatum and laying in our upstairs neighbor’s bathtub while they were out of town (with permission), reading Alice Walker’s, In Search Of Our Mother’s Gardens. There is a chapter titled, “A writer because of, not in spite of, her children.”

I remember thinking I wanted that to be me. Walker goes on to describe the dedication in Buchi Emecheta’s book Second Class Citizen which reads:

To my dear children,
Florence, Sylvester, Jake, Christy and Alice,
without whose sweet background noises
this book would not have been written.

Alice Walker initially scoffs at this–who thinks of those background noises…of FIVE kids…as sweet? But as she gives an overview of the novel–which is largely biographical–she says the heroine “reasons that since her children will someday be adults, she will fulfill the ambition of her life not only for herself, but also for them….since this novel is written to the adults her children will become, it is okay with her if the distractions and joys they represent in her life, as children, become part of it.”

Re-reading those words is so inspirational to me. There will not be many days (right now) that I can sit down with a hot cup of coffee, a clean desk, soft music playing in the background and a head full of inspiration to spill out.

As I write this, I am wearing my 2-month-old daughter in a sling, just carried my screaming and overtired 2-year-old to her nap (yes while wearing the baby), and my 4-year-old is watching an annoying episode of Doc McStuffins and grudgingly eating a grilled cheese she begged daddy for for 20 minutes but doesn’t want anymore.

But I will write. I’ll get it down whether it be one-handed while nursing and filled with typos and stupid autocorrects, or wearing my baby and standing at my desk (thank goodness for a standing desk), or if it hits me at 4:45 in the morning after I’m done calming Tatum down from a night terror. I’ll get it down before it slips into the oblivion of wet wipes and essential oils and granola bars. I’ll make digital ink because one day these three girls will be the adults I want to write for.

I’ll write because of, not in spite of, my children.

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