In anticipation of Mother’s Day I thought I would talk to you a little bit about being in the trenches. It isn’t easy out there; raising the next generation of humans. There is no boot camp, training manual, or rule book for being a mom. Everyone gives advice on being a parent but it is often contradictory and impractical for those of us living in the real world. My grandmother was one of the only people who ever gave me real, no-nonsense advice on motherhood—she handed me a recipe for hot toddies and told me to be sure and make one for each child before bed. “Grandma, you can’t give babies alcohol.”
“Um, it is against the law.”
“Well, I’ll be! The government has to get involved in everything. When did they change that?”
“I’m not sure. I just know that giving alcohol to infants would be mandatory jail time.”
“Not to worry dear, I have a solution. Just make the same number of drinks, but instead of giving them to the children, save them for yourself.”
Having enough liquor in the house is, unfortunately, not enough preparation for motherhood. And no matter how many books you read, advice you get from well-meaning friends, or therapy you receive, there are just some things you cannot prepare for.
I took my sons for a walk and every few feet my oldest son would stomp on the sidewalk. I couldn’t figure out what he was doing so I finally asked. He said, “Hey Mom, *Stomp* are you *Stomp* feeling any pain?” *Stomp*
“Are you stepping on cracks trying to ‘break my back’?!”
“Yep. I know there is ice cream at home. If you fall down from a broken back I could beat you back to the house and eat it all before you could stop me.”
“Well it is a good thing that stomping thing doesn’t work.”
“Yeah, it was worth a shot.”
You try to teach your children right from wrong, but sometimes they just don’t see the value in your lessons.
I was explaining to my sons a little bit about being a gentleman. Like when a gentleman takes a lady for a walk he always walks closest to the road. My five year old asked why.
I said, “Well to shield her from debris that might fly up from cars, and to protect her from being splashed by puddles, and if a car gets close enough to hit them, his body would shield her. It is a way of being polite.”
Then the five-year-old says, “If a car hits them, she could still die. I don’t get how that is polite.”
And no matter what you try to teach them, they are learning information from other sources, some of which you cannot control. No matter how hard you try--you cannot control what your kids hear, think, or say . . .
My twelve-year-old son James had a friend over one afternoon and they were talking about how disturbing the health (read: puberty) videos at school were. James said, “I learned more than I ever wanted to know about girls.” His friend agreed.
His little brother Jason piped up with, “Well I know a lot about girls already.”
“Bud, this isn’t stuff most kids know,” James tried to explain.
The little one said, “Oh I know a ton of stuff about girls.”
Then the older and wiser brother says, “You might think you do, but not these things.”
Jason came back with, “Well at least I know some things. Like I know how girls look. I have seen Mom without her clothes on!”
The visiting friend has not been back since.
So in preparation for Mother’s Day, let us all join forces for the difficult job that is parenting. Let us support one another and take a day off from judging other mothers. It is a tough job, not for the faint of heart or those without a large and amply stocked liquor cabinet.