My little girl turns sixteen years old today. I had several years where I didn’t think I could have children at all, then one day I was in a car accident and the doctor insisted on a pregnancy test before the X-Rays. I was angry he suggested the test. It felt like salt in the wound of infertility. At that point, mother’s day felt like blasphemy, Ihated pregnant women in general, and I had strange desires to spray paint graffiti on the walls of Babies-R-Us.
The doctor came back to the room I occupied. He looked pale and worried. I’d been so waspish when he insisted on the pregnancy test, and now he had news for me. “Do you want to have a baby?” he asked slowly.
I’d straightened and felt sick with hope and desire. Mr. Wright had also straightened–both of us on edge for whatever this man might tell us. ”Yes.” My response was careful. Please, oh please, oh please.
The doctor relaxed immediately, smiled wide, and wished a hearty congratulations. Who cared about the pains of having been totally slammed into by another car? I was going to be a mom!
And now she’s sixteen. She is the exact age I was when I looked at Mr. Wright and thought . . . you know, I could actually marry this guy. All of my major decisions in my life were made by the time I was sixteen (which totally freaks me out about her now being that age). I felt so grown up, so capable. And then all those years later I found myself carrying a chubby, pinkish baby into my home. All feelings of capability fled that first night having her home. Mr Wright and I stared at each other. Now that we had her, what did we do with her?
Here are sixteen things I’ve learned in my journey through motherhood:
- Keep your word. I have favorite idle threats–like insisting I’m going to rip out their tongues if they can’t speak nicely to each other, or that I’m going to sell them on eBay. Naturally I’m not going to sell them on ebay because it’s illegal, and I’m pretty sure ripping out tongues might be illegal as well–though I haven’t checked into it. But aside from the joking idle threats, unless something falls out of my control, I always keep my word. If you tell them they’re getting “unplugged” from TV, games, and the electronic world in general for bad behavior or poor performance, then they are. If you tell them they’re going to Disneyland, don’t then backpedal and tell them Disneyland burned down. You go. Sometimes integrity is all we have left to us. Make your word dependable.
- Laughing at kids when you’re supposed to be yelling at them may not be the most effective way to get a point across. Wait to laugh when you’re alone and they can’t see you.
- If at all possible, train child to go to your spouse’s side of the bed in the middle of the night when they feel sick. That way, you will never be vomited on.
- Open communication goes a long way toward trust.
- If you want to feel old and lame, try dancing in front of teen daughter’s friends.
- While child is in school, use the time to practice for hours on Dance Dance Revolution. This won’t guarantee you a win, but will make you feel less stupid when your score is more respectable.
- The best way to clear your kids from a room is to kiss your spouse loudly.
- People tend to act to the level of expectations of others. Expect greatness from your children.
- Hauling boulders out of mountains and accidentally breaking windows out of the family van while escaping a hive of hornets can be hilarious.
- Sometimes moms need time outs too.
- Jumping out and scaring your kids is also hilarious.
- Them doing it to you is not.
- Keep the camera handy at all times.
- Make a rule that they can’t bug you until the sun comes up. Works great in winter . . . you might need black out curtains for the summer.
- Let them know up front that the tooth fairy is pretty flaky, unreliable, and quite possibly a politician.
- In writing I always say show, don’t tell. In child rearing, I say something similar. Show AND tell them you love them every day.
Happy Birthday Tjej! You are everything I never was at your age. I am so glad you’re my daughter and so in awe of the woman you’ve grown to be. I wasn’t always a good mom every day, but I was always glad to be YOUR mom every day.