Sunday, March 22, 2009

I wish I could say this is an unfamiliar feeling

The worst parenting advice I’ve ever been given. Hmm. Let your baby cry, don’t sleep with them, bite back. Who knows? I feel like such a mess as a mother, it clearly does no good to give me advice anyway.

When our oldest was born we lived in North Carolina, and I’m not saying that living in The South had anything to do with these words of wisdom, but I can’t rule it out either. Just before his first Thanksgiving (which would have put him at the ripe old age of 5½ months) the cashier at the grocery store noticed our son didn’t have any teeth yet and quite frankly she could not believe it. Her remedy was to just let him gnaw on the drumstick from the turkey at our family dinner. He'll love it, she promised and swore that she had done the same thing with all of her babies. I didn't want to be a stick in the mud, but probably because he was our first child, and I was overly cautious I just couldn’t bring myself to try it.

Wouldn’t you know, that was a decision I would live to regret when a couple months later one of my husband’s co-workers told me that if I ever wanted our baby to grow hair I really needed to feed him some cabbage. Well, I did want him to grow hair, eventually, I wasn’t desperate or anything, but sadly, since I had decided not to give him that turkey bone, in addition to being bald, he also was without teeth. Who knows how things might have turned out differently if only I had listened.

Since then I’ve been given so much advice I could write a really useless book. Some of it I’ve taken and some I’ve tossed aside. Does anyone really know how to raise kids the RIGHT way? (Besides Dr. Phil, I mean, that goes without saying, right?) And how do you know if it was something you did or just luck? I mean let’s face it, my mother was running around trying to be the president of the “Husband of the Month Club” when I was growing up, and I might be nuts, but all of my brothers turned out pretty dang good, so the part where I’m cuckoo I suppose she can claim, but my brothers, that’s all luck.

Being a mother is hard. So, so, very hard, probably equal parts hard for me and my kids. I honestly feel like I have spent the entire weekend either being the mean chore list mother, or the cranky don’t touch my stuff mother, for a few hours I was the “moderate a conflict between the dad and the kid” mother, tonight I am the disappointed because my kids seem to have completely disregarded every single manner we have ever tried to smash into their precious little skulls for the past 17 years mother. What I want to know is when do I get to be the gentle loving mother, or the fun fly by the seat of your pants mother?

I want to be grateful not guilty, silly not stressed, realistic not regretting. I don’t want my headstone to say “Thank goodness, now we can relax.”


Homer and Queen said...

Seriously? I thought it was all a crap shoot! No really, we all just do the best we can, my DH got to be the Disneyland Dad all the time and I had to be mean mom, I really hated that! My older kids are just finding out that I can be fun!!

If you figure this one out let me know! (turkey legs...Seriously?!)

Becky said...

Am I reading that right?? Turkey legs will help teeth come in? What the ...?!

You know, when they send you home from the hospital with your new little bundle of joy, they should be required to send an 18-year supply of Valium too.

Hang in there.

Karen said...

I fell asleep last night feeling sooooo guilty! Jake & Garrison came running into my room, hopped up on my bed and each of them farted in unison. Instead of laughing it off and joining in the fun, I yelled at them, kicked them out of my room and continued watching Desperate Housewives. I'm getting less and less fun as my life goes on. Ugh.

Cheryle said...

Okay, the turkey leg thing was never meant to help a baby actually *grow* teeth, it was simply a teething soother when they were cutting teeth! That was back in the day, when babies were started on solid food at about a month of age (my two oldest). So the grocery store lady was making up at least part of it. (I'm an umpteenth generation southerner, so don't know if it's a "southern thing" or not; I just know I grew up hearing it!)

As far as being a good mom/yelling at kids/not being a "fun" mom, here's the sad, unvarnished truth: The things you do that you are certain in retrospect have scarred your children FOREVER, are things they will have absolutely no memory of when they're grown. Instead, they will come to you and say, "Remember when you (fill in some absolutely innocuous behavior on your part, possibly even something you remember as a good event, but probably something you would swear never happened!)? Well, that has always kept me from achieving my full potential."

It really is a crap shoot. As long as you aren't beating them, starving them, or continually berating them, you're doing the best that you can! And sometimes all you can do is laugh.

wesley's mom (sue) said...

H & Q-I hate being the mean mom all the time, and it does feel like my husband gets to be more fun. Logically I know that is just the nature of things, but it does get tiring.

Becky-I suspect Cheryle is right about the turkey/teething thing, but I still can't imagine giving a baby a bone to gnaw on.

Karen-I don't think you have anything to feel guilty about, I would have kicked them out too. Am I weird? I do NOT think farting is funny.

Oh Cheryle, do you mean I am doing things I don't even KNOW about that are going to come back to haunt me? I think I might have to start drinking.

AuBien said...

Are you reading my journals? I have felt the same way. People have told me the goofiest things in the name of mothering advice. People my parent's age have a completely different outlook than we do and they don't seem to want to make the connection to how things are now. Younger than me has another completely different idea and I feel like I am completely lost in the middle. I finally just gave up listening to anyone because hardly anyone makes any sense to me. Hopefully my children will still come see me when they don't have to anymore.