5 Quick Questions on Parenting

It’s time for a new edition of 5 Quick Questions.

This is my opportunity to get to know you better, and it’s one of the best things we do here because it turns out you are very good at truth-telling, friends. To those of you who used the last few volumes to delurk, it’s wonderful to meet you! And to those of you who’ve been around a while, mucking about in this space and putting your feet on the furniture? You’re always rad. Thank you.

As you may know, 5 Quick Questions can be anything from the inane What Is Your Family Booger Rule? to the more serious (and my absolute favorite because you were so deeply honest) Questions About Faith.

Today, though, I’d like to pick your parenting brains for the true, the ridiculous, and the laugh-out-loud funny.

And I have ulterior motives. I get to be on a parenting panel this week for a group of mamas with young kids. But I’ve learned over time that we are wiser together than I can ever be alone, and, while I may have one piece of the puzzle, it’s a much clearer picture when we all share our pieces. So I thought I’d ask you a few questions today that might be asked on Friday. Because if there’s one thing I’d like to give young moms, it’s more pieces of the puzzle, you know? More mamaraderie. More ways we’re in this together. More ways to find the magic in the mess and the laughter in this life. And I can do that much, much better if we work together.

OK?

OK.

Here we go.

ID-100400665 Quick Questions on Parenting

  1. If you could go back in time and whisper one thing to yourself when you were a parent of young ones, what would it be?
  2. What’s one change you’ve made in your parenting or your house or yourself that’s allowed you to breathe easier? 
  3. Comparison. Blerg. What’s your strategy for not comparing yourself to other moms or your kids to theirs? 
  4. What’s one of the funniest things your children ever did?
  5. But how do you keep your sense of humor during the tough patches of parenting?

And here are my answers:

  1. If you could go back in time and whisper one thing to yourself when you were a parent of young ones, what would it be? 

    It surprised me when I really thought about this to discover I wouldn’t whisper any of the things I didn’t know. Or tell Younger Me any of the things that would surprise me. I guess because I wouldn’t want to spoil my story, you know? I wouldn’t want to give away all the wonder or the discoveries or even the deep pain of having it all fall apart and the hard work of assembling this life. 

    I suppose I would hug me and burst into tears and make myself terribly uncomfortable by being emotionally demonstrative, but what I’d really want me to know is it’s going to be OK. I’m going to be OK. These tiny people I love are going to be OK. I mean, deeply OK. Not AWESOME. Not PERFECT. Really an utter mess some days. And still somehow OK. And enough. And even good. I’d tell myself that the feeling of inadequacy isn’t the same as being inadequate and that eventually I’ll learn the difference. I’d whisper that the little bit I can do at one time, the small person I can be, is enough. And is valuable. And is useful. And is deeply worthy of being loved and deeply able to give that love to others.

  2. What’s one change you’ve made in your parenting or your house or yourself that’s allowed you to breathe easier? 

    Learning to laugh at the chaos and the destruction. I know; I wish I had something profound to say, too, but there it is.

  3. Comparison. Blerg. What’s your strategy for not comparing yourself to other moms or your kids to theirs? 

    For me, I find that outing myself as a total raging mess helps. I know that seems counter-intuitive, but it helps me find my people, you know? Like, when I talk about having a less-than-perfect morning or about my dress unraveling in the parking lot, I find a lot of other moms who are willing to admit their own awesome, often ridiculous, messes. And that’s where we find our Village, I think; when we sit in the mud together. 

    As far as comparing my kids to other kids, well, that’s harder. We’ve struggled with everything from developmental delays to the more typical, um, attitude issues (*ahem* in myself and the kids), and I find when I’m comparing my kids to others, I’m usually trying rather desperately to process my own grief. Grief that things are harder for my kid than for typical kids. Grief that things are harder for me. So it helps for me to name that, you know? It helps me not to be bitter that things seem to go so swimmingly for other parents when I name my grief and allow myself to be sad.

  4. What’s one of the funniest things your children ever did? 

    Oh, geez. One? 

    I’m going to have to go with the time my kid punched another kid in the nuts but only because he cares about justice. Or the time my boys had a contest to see how high they could fill the bathtub with pee. Or the time they learned about the Archimedes Principle. Or the time they all took a dump under the front porch. Oooh! Or the time they got kicked out of the church Christmas program! Or the time they stayed in the program and flipped everyone off. Or… OK, I can’t possibly pick only one.

  5. But how do you keep your sense of humor during the tough patches of parenting? 

    Practice. Lots and lots of practice. 

    And having pretty literally All of My Stuff irretrievably wrecked. Like, past all repair. ‘Cause when there’s nothing left to ruin, it’s hard to maintain the mad.

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Your turn. How do you answer these 5 Quick Questions? Remember, you don’t have to answer them all if you don’t want to; this is always challenge by choice. I can’t wait to see what you have to say.

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ABOUT BETH WOOLSEY I'm a writer. And a mess. And mouthy, brave, and strong. I believe we all belong to each other. I believe in the long way 'round. And I believe, always, in grace in the grime and wonder in the wild of a life lived off course from what was, once, a perfectly good plan.
61 comments
  1. 1) I think I would tell myself just how short this phase of my life is. The part where I was having babies started in late 2005 and was over by early 2011. I wish I had prepared myself better for how short that time in my life would be. Here it is late 2013 and I still get sad thinking about how that part of my life is done.

    2) I finally got up my courage, mustered up the energy, aligned all my ducks in a row and made us move from our old house to a new house this past summer. We loved our old house and had lived there for 11 years, before we even had children, but it just was not working for our family. We were all miserable. I walk around our new house every day thinking about how much happier we all are and how much I love our house.

    3) One of the things I had to do was as simple as unfollowing some moms on instagram, pintrest, facebook, blogs, etc. I realized that I was making myself miserable wondering why I couldn’t be the mom that these people seemed to be, why my house couldn’t look like theirs, why my kids weren’t as cute, smart, talented, etc. But I DO follow moms (like you!) who are so honest about themselves, their lives, homes, & kids. And, in “real life”, I have tried to form a “village” of friends who are more supportive and less judgemental—the importance of the village cannot be overemphasized!

    4) One of the ones that always stands out for me: When my 1st child was 2, one of my dearest friends and her 2 year old daughter went out to lunch w/ my daughter and myself. We decided to go to a small sushi place that was really popular w/ the working crowd. The lunch was going very nicely when my daughter accidentally dropped her spoon on the floor. I was just about to pick it up and get her a new one when my angelic-looking little girl sits up and in her loudest voice says, “Awww S&%$!!!” The entire restaurant stopped eating and talking to look at us. My friend was dying, trying not to explode in laughter.

    5) I call my mommy. No, seriously, sometimes that’s what I do! I also hastily try to get my group of mommy friends together for a Moms Night Out where I can tell them what I’m going through and I can hear what they all are going through and doing that helps me realize that it’s all ok. We are all ok.

  2. My comment sort of covers 1, 2 and 3. I’ve learned and am always learning to give myself permission to be myself as I parent. Because that gives me space to breathe and to remember that the thing my kids need the most from me is ME. So if I’m not fun Mommy, that’s OK. I’m there Mommy, listening Mommy, taking a walk downtown Mommy, helping with homework Mommy. And if my kid wants a Lego cake, it’s OK to skip Pinterest and make a box cake with canned icing and stick actual Legos on top because my kid will think it’s the best. cake. ever. Thus making me the best Mom ever. For a good hour and a half.

    I’m also a cranky Mom. And that is NOT OK. This is not permission to not work on it. But it does me the strength I need to accept it and tell my kids I’m sorry when it gets the better of me. And maybe, just maybe, teaches them a little bit of how to live with my short fuse since they both inherited it.

    I’m not perfect, but I’m here. And I’m me. And that works for us. And I love love love mamaraderie!

  3. 1. Don’t parent like you have something to prove. Just parent from your heart, not for an audience.
    2. I’ve learned to tune out a lot. Sometimes that means tuning out whiny children, sometimes that means tuning out strangers, and sometimes it means tuning out my own neurosis.
    3. Like Beth, I just admit upfront that we’re the loud, wild family that eats fruit loops and hotdogs. It’s hard to compete with people if you admit you’ve already lost 🙂
    5. I don’t think I’ve mastered this one yet. But when I am able to keep a sense of humor, it’s because of Persepective. My grandmother used to frequently say “This is not a tragedy.” She was right.

  4. 5 Quick Questions on Parenting
    1.If you could go back in time and whisper one thing to yourself when you were a parent of young ones, what would it be?

    2.What’s one change you’ve made in your parenting or your house or yourself that’s allowed you to breathe easier?
    3.Comparison. Blerg. What’s your strategy for not comparing yourself to other moms or your kids to theirs?
    4.What’s one of the funniest things your children ever did?
    5.But how do you keep your sense of humor during the tough patches of parenting?
    First time posting!! Yay!
    1. I would tell myself that nobody was going to die. Asthma is some scary business, but no one will die. Stay vigilant mama, but they are going to make it. Also to forgive my first husband faster, anger isn’t helping.
    2. Hmmm I don’t know about this one, every time I think I have got it figured out – they change (the kids) or my marriage changes or I change. As I get older I just try to focus on the small moments of joy.
    3. I am not usually one to compare, but I do know that challenges make you strong. Even though my life sometimes feels unusually difficult the results have been that I fear less and worry less. I wouldn’t give that up for anyone’s easy peasy life.
    4. When my little man was four we were visiting the zoo when he started a little karate chopping game where he was shouting ‘choppity-chop’ and then smacking the legs of those in our party. At some point the chopping turned into punching and had branched off from family members to strangers. A very nice young man got punched directly in the crotch. When I noticed that this man was holding hands with another man I had this horrible moment where I thought my son could been seen as some weird vigilante bigot child who socks gay men in the crotch to teach them a lesson. Thankfully after the man recovered he was very nice and accepted my son’s apology.
    5. I need to do better at this – I can spend hours thinking about my child’s future incarceration or how they will handle homelessness after just the smallest acts of crazy behavior. After I get tired or worrying then I take the time to recognize that most kids are crazy and it is likely that they will be fine and we will all laugh about this later.

  5. 1. If you could go back in time and whisper one thing to yourself when you were a parent of young ones, what would it be?
    Well, I was 3 different mommas, so I’m gonna answer 3 times. I had my first baby at 17. If I could go back, I would tell me, “Stop being selfish and give him up for adoption. He needs more than you can provide, and you’re only going to hurt him.” When I was 21, I had my second baby. If I could go back to me then, I would say, “Stop being selfish and put the kids first. Quit living your life and dragging them along for the ride. You don’t realize it yet, but you’re gonna regret things later.” There was definitely a theme there that I’m not proud of. But then I had my last baby when I was 31. I don’t have any advice for that momma. That baby just turned 16, and that momma did a fabulous job. She had finally come out of herself, and realized the precious gift she was entrusted with. To add to that, she was blessed with the best baby on earth. Those circumstances were a match made in heaven.
    2. What’s one change you’ve made in your parenting or your house or yourself that’s allowed you to breathe easier?
    This is hard. Breathe easier? I guess prayer. Trusting in God when I’m not enough – I’m always not enough, so that goes a long way.
    3. Comparison. Blerg. What’s your strategy for not comparing yourself to other moms or your kids to theirs?
    I never got into the comparing kids thing. I still struggle, though, with comparing myself to others. Just this year, I’ve decided that I really am fine being me. I think it’s a mindset, and one I had to grow into. It took a RRRREEEEAAAALLLLLLLLYYYY long time.
    4. What’s one of the funniest things your children ever did?
    Megan had a love for tigers as a preschooler. She actually asked Santa for a “real-live tiger” when she was 4 (he said no, but told her he would bring her a stuffed tiger). Anyway, right before she turned 4, we were driving in a very populated area in South Florida (by the Sawgrass Mall if anyone knows the area). All of a sudden, “LOOOOOOOKKKK MOM! LOOK!” “What Megan?” “Do you see the TIGER???” “No. Where?” “Up in the TREE mom! It’s a BIG tiger! A big TINY tiger up in the tree!” LOL
    5. But how do you keep your sense of humor during the tough patches of parenting?
    Sadly, I didn’t. My oldest – the teenage pregnancy baby – has a lot of behavioral and emotional disabilities. Had I been more mature – the momma I was when I had my last baby – I probably would have handled being his momma a lot better. As it was, he got the short-end of the stick. The stub. It sucks. My house was not a pleasant place when he was young. Selfish young moms and special needs kids are not a good combination. And everything beyond that has been a cake walk as far as I’m concerned, so keeping a sense of humor has been easy.

    1. Thank you for sharing your real story with us, Maira. I love you for it. <3

    2. You made me cry. Here at work. Dammit.

    3. I’m a late bloomer, and I heard that kind of idea in your post, too. In my case, I feel like it took me awhile to grow up because of how I was raised, or not raised. Sometimes I beat myself up for doing things later than others, but then I realize how happy I am now as a mom, how precious my family is to me, and I try to focus on that instead. Better later than never. Good for you getting some perspective on it. Your family is blessed to have you.

  6. 1. Ezzo is a crock and don’t listen to a word he says. They are only little for a short time, holding them while they sleep is not going to spoil or ruin them.

    2. We watch a lot more tv than I ever expected or planned.

    3. I remember my children’s strengths. Yes, these kids can read better than my oldest, but my oldest is personable and likeable and excellent with people. And those skills that are innate to him are going to serve him well! I do this with all of mine. I find their strengths and celebrate them.

    4. There was the time that we put my then toddler in front of the tv so we could go have some adult playtime and when we were getting to the good part all of a sudden our toddler was on my husband’s back saying “giddup!”

    5. That one is pretty easy for me most of the time. I also have 5 kids and one of them is bound to be in a cute stage even if the others are in not-so-cute ones.

  7. When my son was 4, he realized during dinner one night that when we had chicken we were actually eating the real animal. He blurts out, “I’m glad I don’t have to eat the pecker!” My husband and I stopped laughing long enough to ask for clarification, and he says, “The pecker! That hard, pointy thing they use to peck the corn with.” Ahhhh…beak, gotcha!

  8. Oh man, I am loving all these comments!

    1. I’d whisper “back up the photos! Back up the photos! Seriously, go, right now, now! Back them up!”
    2. Realising I can’t control everything, and riding the wave instead. Part of this is letting go, and letting God (argh, I know! I heard it too! The Christianese! But I don’t know how else to describe it). Also: selective memory.
    3. Ug, as much as it pains me to say it, letting some of my friends go. Friends who when I thought about it, weren’t really all that friendly. I never had too much of a problem with comparing myself (or my kids) to strangers, but the people I let in my world? Oh, that one hurt. Hurts.
    4. Well, everything? (Remember that selective memory thing? Ha!)
    5. Wine. And vodka. No really, I don’t even know how. But I do keep it. Inappropriately sometimes…

  9. 1. Be less strict. I was way too ridged with my oldest about his day schedule.

    2. It sort of happened on it’s own, it wasn’t a conscious decision. At some point, I realized that I am just too tired to care what anyone else thinks and can’t be bothered.

    3. Same as above. It requires too much energy to worry about whether I’m keeping up with the Jones. If my kids are doing okay and are happy then as far as I’m concerned, we’re all okay. I don’t have the energy to try and be what I’m not. We’re far from perfect but I always feel that where we’re a little off in some areas, we make up for in others.

    4. We live in Israel so my kids’s first language is Hebrew however we speak English at home as English is my husband and my mother tongue. English for the kids is quite a big effort – they understand everything however they are impatient when speaking and often their sentences are a big jumble of English and Hebrew mixed together. A few weeks ago I was driving my oldest son (7.5 yrs) home after judo and he asked me why women wear such vagina earings. It took a while before I finally discovered that to the non mother tongue English ear the word vagina sounds very similar to gigantic and can be easily confused… We will be dining out on that one for years!

    5. I remember stories like the one above 🙂

  10. 1. I agree with you–it’s going to be OK. The kid will be OK, you will be OK, it’s OK. Relax. You can do all of the things you feel like you need to do–eat organic, breastfeed, no sugar, etc…but at the end of the day, relax and realize that even if the kid ate a bucket of sugar and Cheetos at nana and papa’s, it’s only one day. It’s what you do MOST of the time that matters. Chill, mama.

    2. Number one says it all. I’ve relaxed more and I don’t worry like I used to do. I worry, don’t get me wrong. However, I worry LESS. Also, I used to really worry about my kid turning into a bad kid because I’m a teacher and I see some wayward kids. I was too tough on my little one because of that, and now I try to really observe better to understand what’s really happening, rather than just worrying and overreacting.

    3. Yes, blerg. I think there are some insecure moms-turned-nazimoms out there. I try to stay away from them. People who get weird with me about their kids and mine make me really uncomfortable, so if I get that more than once, I usually don’t hang out with them if I can help it.

    4. I think the kid does funny things all the time, most of them are just funny comments. I don’t know that it’s actually funny, but early, was when he was about 2, maybe 2 1/2, he looked up at me and said, “I had a good time with you today, Mommy.” I guess it’s not really funny, but it was funny for his age, and it touched my heart. It became a saying with us.

    5. I think mostly I’ve just learned not to get upset even if my son is mad at me for getting in time-out or whatever. I just ride it out and realize that something he doesn’t like has to happen when he’s naughty or he may not learn to stop that. I don’t have to get mad, but I do need to teach him to behave better and to make amends with people.

  11. 1. My kids entered my life last year at 7 and 9, so I don’t have much of a window for this. I would say to myself last summer–they WILL stop mooning people when they’re mad. That one had me a tiny bit nervous.
    2. I let my kids watch as many DVDs as they want on weekend mornings while we sleep in. Sometimes we even aren’t sleeping, if you get my drift. I was raised without a TV (and before computers, etc.), so this felt like failure for awhile, but then I realized how great it really is.
    3. Ooh, hard one. Last weekend I was at a baby shower with my 7 year old daughter. She was uncharacteristically shy with all the strangers around, and was sitting on my lap facing me, burying her head in my chest. One lady said, “How old is she–two?” and then chuckled, as if she’d made a joke instead of a snide remark. I amazed myself by gathering my wits enough to reply,”Well, as we say in our house, in family years she’s actually about a year and a half, so this is perfectly appropriate.” So I guess that’s one strategy I use–remembering that there’s a pretty specific reason why my kids are atypical. Considering what they’ve been through, they’re rock stars.

    As another commenter said, getting counseling and medication for my anger also helped me to stop feeling crappy about my parenting, although that wasn’t a comparison thing so much as a “This is not who I am or want to be” thing.

    Reading honest blogs helps too.

    4. So many! My daughter came up with this trick where she asks you to touch her forehead, then she does a perfect imitation of a bobble-head. It cracks me up every time. My son is working on his deadpan delivery of one-liners. Today we were talking about a 4 year old we know, and I said, “I wish I’d known you guys when you were four.” He responded, “I don’t know about that, Mom–I swallowed coins when I was four.”

    5. Unlike Webb, I’m not a dad, but I HAVE taught middle school for 17 years. I was just saying at a parent night recently that you don’t make it that long in middle school unless you think kids are funny. Teaching has also taught me to keep coming back the next day, without holding grudges or negative expectations. Just because a kid screwed up nine times in a row doesn’t make them a screw-up. Kids are still growing and changing.

  12. 1. If I could go back in time and whisper one thing to myself when I was a parent of young ones, it would be this: It’s okay that you don’t know what to do sometimes. It’s okay that you need time to learn. It’s okay that you have faults that need to be worked on. This is your chance to learn, right now.

    2. Quit making my kids wear clothes that match.

    3.Limit the amount of time I spend talking with the people that consistently make me feel bad. Spend time talking about things that aren’t kid-related!

    4. My three-year-old runs around the house belting out, “It’s the FIN-AL COUNTDOWN” with a little dance he made up. It was hilarious when I was 8 months pregnant.

    5. I keep lists of things I like about each person in my family. I challenge myself to add to the list when I am angry with that person. Reminds me of the good things, so I can see and enjoy the small things I miss when I am seething with resentment.

  13. 1) Wear earplugs or you’ll be deaf by the time they’re five.

    2) Don’t wait until you’re crazy to address annoying behavior. Give a lot of grace, but start expecting good behavior early. And don’t wait for the kiddo to scream before you do something for them (you’re really teaching them to scream more). Really, you’re training each other here… 🙂

    3) Shrug more, and get to know the other kiddos. Enjoy the mamas and constantly and verbally acknowledge that we’re all doing the best we can.

    4) My kiddos are funny. My two year old was butt naked after a trial run on the potty and I was busy cutting up my chickens and didn’t want to run after her with chicken goo on my hands, so I let her “wash dishes” at the kitchen sink for a few minutes. I turned back to what I was doing and when my hubby came into the kitchen, he called attention to the HUGE TURD that was on her standing chair. She thought she should get a poop treat for that, but mama was the one who got to eat the M&Ms that time.

    The next day, my (5yo) son was playing with non-newtonian fluid and figured out that by making a hole between his thumb, that he could make a “timer” as it oozed through his fingers. He said, “Mom, just tell me when to pinch a loaf and I’ll time it for you!” Mature mommy face, mature mommy face…

    5) I play with my kids when I get really stressed out by them. I take a few deep breaths, and then break out the tickling, pillow fights, favorite book, legos, playdough, whatever…. Best stress reliever ever.

    1. Oh, and the right (or nearly right) medication is KEY!! 🙂 It is so much easier when I’m not trying to mama while slogging through a room full of Jello.

  14. 1. I’m still a mom of little ones, but I’m on baby number two so I’ve learned from my mistakes a bit. (Still a long way to go, though!) I would tell my neurotic first-time-mom-self that a healthy, happy mom is the best gift you can give your child. If fill-in-the-blank (breastfeeding, making your own food, sleep training, cloth diapering, only buying organic, etc) makes you feel crazy, stressed or crazy-stressed then don’t do it. Give yourself a break and stop listening to everyone telling you the right way to raise your child. Also, trust your instincts. God chose you to be your child’s mom so he must think you can handle it – who are you to argue?
    2. I let the baby sleep when she wants to sleep. If that means she sleeps in the car for 15 minutes, then so be it. I simply can’t hole up in my house with my extrovert preschooler (torture for both of us) every day. Some days other things trump nap time. Sort of falls into the what I was saying with number 1. Now, this is only true to a certain extent because everyone knows an exhausted baby = grumpy baby = grumpy mom = bad news for everyone. So, flex a little, but don’t be an idiot.
    3. My strategy is adopt a child with Down syndrome. Suddenly your perspective switches and you’re celebrating learning to self-feed at 13 months and you don’t care if so-and-so’s kid crawled at 4 months. YOUR BABY CAN PICK UP FOOD AND PUT IT IN HER MOUTH! The little things feel like the greatest accomplishments. Plus, there’s such a relief to know medically that your kid will do things on her own timetable. It’s true for every kid, but it’s easier to embrace when it’s a syndrome for some reason.
    4. Right now, this makes me laugh until I cry: http://youtu.be/PvyVte2fPDY I watch it over and over again. I’m curious to know if others who don’t know my daughter think it’s funny at all? She whips out that raspberry trick at the most hilarious times.
    5. I tell myself that it will be funny in an hour/day/week/year so I might as well see the humor in it now. Sometimes I don’t listen to myself and that’s never as fun.

    1. LOL. I love the video! 🙂

      Love your perspective. My son has been having a lot of problems and giving up the whole timetable thing has been really helpful!

      Enjoy those raspberries!!

  15. No kids here, but I want to vote that the pee in the bathtub is hands down funniest.

  16. 1. I’m not really sure what I’d tell myself. I think I would still consider myself a parent of young ones since my kids are 6 and nearly 3. I feel like I’m still in the “young ones” stage. Maybe nearing the end of it, if we don’t have any more kids, but that question is still up in the air.
    2. Admitting when my emotions and anxiety is out of control and having the courage (and ditching my pride and fear of being judged) and admit that maybe I might need help coping. Talking to my doctor about the toughest year of my life and taking meds to help manage the depression and anxiety. I’m a much better me, a better wife and a better mom because of it.
    3. I stopped comparing myself and my kids to others when my kid started pre school and started having behavior problems. I used to be miss judgy pants and thought negatuve things about other parents. They should be doing this or that. My kid is perfect. And then I realized my kids aren’t perfect and neither am I. I don’t know what that family is dealing with any more than they know whayt I’m dealing with. I kept finding out that for every issue I judged others on, a aimilar situation happened to us. What goes around, comes around I suppose.
    4. Just one?
    Well, there was the time my son TP’ed our entire second floor in less than ten minutes. He was 3 then. Both my kids have slathered diaper cream all over their rooms. One incidence with toothpaste all over the bedroom carpet. One episode of painting with poo. My son got ahold of hand sanitizer once and drank it. Called poison control, who said to watch for signs of drunkenness in our 2ish year old. The most recent funny comes from my nearly 3 year old daughter. She’s going through a faze of not wanting to wear pj’s to bed. Which is fine with me as long as she isn’t cold at night. A couple of sundays ago, my brother in law and hubbys best friend were over. I was putting her to bed and she decided she didn’t want to wear pj’s. I started to protest because it was supposed to be cool that night, when she interrupted me with, “but mommy! Uncle N and uncle D LIKE naked girls!” And it took me so by surprise, all I could do was laugh. The only thing I can think of as to where she came up with that was when earlier I had made her go to her room to change a poopy diaper saying that her uncles don’t like seeing poopy bottoms. I think she was just trying to tell me that she didn’t think her uncles would mind if she wasn’t wearing clothes. She thought she was going to get to stay up and didn’t realize she was going to bed.
    5. How do I keep my sense of humor? I wait about ten minutes for one of my kids to say or do something hilarious. They’re both hilarious and they know it. My sons second preschool teacher called him Silly Willy because he was constantly cracking everyone up.

  17. 1. I would go back and whisper that it won’t always be this hard and this exhausting and I will get over yelling at my kids so much. The yelling got under control both because I tried to stop yelling so much and because my kids got older and easier. And, so far, contrary to all the old ladies at the store, I don’t yet wish I could go back to when they were little. I’ve always been a person who prefers older kids, and while I loved my little babies and toddlers, I really, really like that they are all mostly independent now.
    2. One thing I’ve learned that’s made parenting easier is that the kids’ behavior does not necessarily reflect the parents’ parenting. Thankfully, I realized this before I needed to — before my kids’ were old enough to be rebelling. I had plenty of close friends who had kids older than mine, and I saw that even while they were doing everything right, everything a parent should be doing, their kids were still making stupid choices. They were still great parents.
    3. I am generally not prone to comparing myself to others — at least not in a damaging way. I am definitely an observer of other people, but usually it’s more from the other side of comparing myself to them; it’s more watching them for things they’re doing well that I can learn from, rather than the things that I suck at that they are good at. I’m the same way with Pinterest. I don’t get all depressed or caught up in all the supposed perfection people see there and ‘keeping up with the Joneses’; I see cool ideas and I think, hey I could do that too. And I see a lot of stuff that just doesn’t appeal to me because it’s not what I’m about. I’m OK with my body, my clothes, and my second-hand home décor.
    4. One of the funniest things my oldest daughter did: When she was about 4, she decided to make us breakfast in bed. Of course, as a 4 year old, her repertoire was quite limited, so she decided to make us toast and some water. She made the toast extra special by putting some sparkly pink jelly on the toast for us. How could she know it was jalapeno jelly?! We nibbled around the edges of our toast while she was in the room, but when she left to go make her 2 year old brother some toast, we efficiently ditched it in the garbage. Next thing we know, the 2 year old is at the foot of our bed eating his sparkly toast, and while continuing to eat it, he said, “This is ‘picy!” (spicy) We still laugh about it.
    5. I guess the easiest way to keep a sense of humor is to remember the funny times from the past. When you’re wanting to kill one (or more) of the kids, one of the best things to do (besides have faith and hope) is to reminisce about the good and funny times in the past.

    1. #5b: it also helps to swap horror stories with other parents and laugh at each other’s stories. It helps soften it all and see it from the outside.

  18. 1) I’ve never been a parent of SUPER young children- my youngest was 4 when he moved into my home, and his sisters were 8 and 9. That was 2 and a half years ago, though, and there is one thing I’d like to go back and tell myself: IT’S GOING TO GET BETTER! Because there were some dark days. I think it’s lovely how you say you wouldn’t want to change your story and I wish I could say that, too- maybe it just hasn’t been long enough- but we were hurting and I wish I knew back then how much our lives would change if we would just be patient. I wish I had been just a little bit easier on myself, I think I would have enjoyed those years more.

    2) I’ve almost completely and utterly accepted the fact that I have just about NO CONTROL OVER ANYTHING. I live in a house with 4 other independent human beings who go out into the world and interact with many other independent human beings- if you compared on a pie chart the scope of reality just in my personal life that I’d like to have input in to the amount that I can actually control my slice would be so small you almost couldn’t even see it. I have to trust other people, and just because they don’t do it exactly the way I would do it doesn’t mean they’re wrong. I can’t say I’ve totally accepted it- I still struggle sometimes. And I do take full advantage of the things I CAN control- I fall back on them when I’m feeling angry or powerless. I’ve come a long way, though, and I feel so much lighter. There are just so many insignificant things that happen every day, and if I worry about all of them I’ll drive myself crazy. If I let them all go- NOTHING BAD HAPPENS. It’s amazing how that works.

    3) Comparison problems? I anguish over this one all the time- I feel myself falling into a pattern of feeling sorry for myself and assuming everyone else’s life is easier! One thing I’ve found helps is STAYING AWAY FROM FACEBOOK. It’s too hard to paint a complete picture on facebook, so more often than not people’s lives are idealized. However people post so often, it’s hard to remember that your news feed isn’t the whole story. People are dynamic and interesting and EVERYBODY is struggling in some capacity, so when I speak to them in person I usually feel empathy and camaraderie. I feel like it’s a mistake to think my pain is unique- everybody is hurting.

    I guess it helps that I know this is a flaw of mine- comparing myself to others and judging them for appearing to have it easier than I do- so I’ve had a lot of practice at identifying when I’m doing it. Scolding myself or reminding myself that “my life is a result of my own choices and it’s my responsibility to change the things I don’t like” doesn’t help during these times, because I’m already feeling really bad about myself (that’s mostly why I’m doing it!) and these thoughts just make me feel worse. Instead I mentally forgive myself for being a jerk, and then search for at least one thing I have in common with this person- even if I have to go back to a different period in my life to find it.

    4) They make me laugh all the time, but it’s tough to think of a good story on the spot. Last weekend a friend of the family, who is particularly fond of quizzing the kids on random facts, asked my 11-year-old daughter who the first lady is. She answered, “Eve.”

    5) Having a sense of humor has shown up a lot more as I’ve let go of a lot of control. I’ve also just learned over time that most things are not as big a deal as they might seem. Stuff is replaceable, scrapes heal, and no one parenting choice alone has ever made a difference by itself. We do some stuff right and some stuff wrong and it’s easier to laugh off the mistakes when you realize that not a single one of them by itself is going to ruin anybody’s life.

  19. 1. I would tell myself “Write it down. No, you won’t always remember that funny thing he said.”
    2. After they quit crawling I quit working so hard to keep the floor clean.
    4. I don’t think Greg wants me to tell that story about getting caught inside the toilet seat…
    5. The sense of humor requires being surrounded by family and friends who see humor in everything, and being able to laugh at yourself while you teach your kids to do the same.

    1. Love your #1 – so true!

  20. 1. I thought of a whole lot of things, then I read your answer, and I’ll go with that! I had savage post natal depression, but you’re right, it’s made me and my kids what we are today.

    2. I am really crap at this one, I expect too much of myself. I guess the one thing that’s helped is that now I have a 9 and a 12 year old and they are great minions. I don’t feel guilty asking them to do chores.

    3. I too out myself. Funny thing is I’m actually a foster parent. They give me other peoples babies to look after. I figure I can’t be that bad, and let me tell you, I’ve done it all – locked babies in cars, dropped my daughter a couple of times, yelled, screamed, said things I shouldn’t, had food all over me, odd shoes etc etc etc. Actually, I’m currently feeding the one year old maccas fries for lunch….anyone who bothers reading a blog like this is just fine! I also remind myself that I don’t see the whole thing. I’m so pleased to have a group of friends that are open and honest about their “failings”

    4. Hmmm I have a crazy nutter of a 9yo boy and he makes me laugh every day. Looking back, maybe the time I found my 6yo daughter on the roof with her best friend?? See, I’m an awesome mum HAHAHA

    5. If you don’t laugh you’ll cry? I find sharing the horrible stories with others helps me laugh at them myself. The other day the baby pooped all over the floor, I found the dog eating it. Then I picked up the baby and realised he had poop all over the front of him too, and he’d shared it with me. SO GROSS, but telling my hubby about it I was in hysterics. Helps to be slightly odd too. Also I try to have low standards. I am quite happy calling my kids poo poo face and laughing at farts and burps at innapropriate times.

  21. 1. I would like to tell myself that my child’s behavior should not be tied up with my self concept or ego.

    5. No THING is worth more than that child.

  22. 1. “Just be glad you’re not the one breastfeeding…!”
    2. A glass of wine with dinner, and sometimes a beer after bedtime.
    3. My strategy is being the Dad instead of the Mom, and having society give me ridiculous amounts of credit for being more than marginally competent with my child.
    4. That girl came out of the womb funny. Too many to count. It often gets in the way of our attempts to be stern & parental.
    5. I’ve taught middle school for twenty years.

    1. I want to try your #3 strategy sometime. That whole Being the Dad thing sounds like gold!

      1. My sense of justice tells me it’s so SO unfair but my sense of relief tells me to just lean back in my recliner and be thankful.

  23. Hi, this is my first post here but I’ll just curl right up on your couch in my peanut butter covered yoga pants, because I’m tired.

    1. My son is still a little one. I wish I had more patience. I thought I had a ton, I don’t. I suck at it a lot of the time, but I am working on it.

    2. I… will get back to you on that one. In the mean time, I am open to ideas. Wait, unless wine counts. Then, wine. Although that’s less of a change than it is a standing policy.

    3. YES, I am so with you on this one. I woke up this morning 15 minutes before I was supposed to be at a playgroup type meeting. I walked in and announced to (mostly, but not all) my friends “I have been up for 21 minutes. I accidentally wore long sleeves, I forgot my socks, and I most definitely smell. But we are here.” It helps, because we all know that we’re moms of toddlers whose husbands are deployed half the time, none of us have it 100% together all the time (um, ever), and it’s all fine. Unkempt, unwashed, unawake, it’s all fine. We get it.

    4. The time when he was not quite 2 and called Poison Control to ask them for sandwiches while I was in the bathroom.

    5. I post it on Facebook because it helps me to laugh when other people are laughing too.

    1. I read this wrong. Whoops. If I could go back in time and tell me anything when my tiny one was a newborn and I was having attachment issues (post adoption depression or whatever it was, it sucked), I would say “You’re not going to be perfect at this, but you’re going to be much better than you think you are. Also, he is going to love the crap out of you.”

    2. Yay! Welcome, Beck. I can see you’re going to fit right in commenting here.

      Just a couple of quick thoughts:
      1. If you curl up on my pants in your peanut butter yoga pants, you will leave my couch with additional spots of ketchup, yogurt, and possibly several undefined items to be named later. This is the full disclosure part of couch-sitting at my house.
      2. Wine always counts.

  24. Also: Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to ruin,

    Isn’t that how it goes?

  25. 1) It’s all going to be all right. She’s going to be okay. Better than okay, even, she’s going to be the best kid she can be.

    I so wish I could tell my 30 year old self this, about my 15 month old. She’s 14 this week. And it’s all right. She is strong, healthy, brave and smarter than we ever could have hoped.

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