Writing is like being able to put life into a snow globe. It takes the things that are too big and scary and reduces them into a form that I can put away when I want and look at from a distance. It also takes all that’s good in life and captures it into something I can take out when I want and look at close up and keep forever. It makes the bad things into something I can hold…and the good things into something I can hold onto. Both help so much that I need that little souvenir of life.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Improper Poll: Ten Things I’ve Learned as a Mother

When I was pregnant with my first child, I naively believed that I would have soap opera children. You know—clean, quiet children who make an occasional appearance and stare in rapt attention while being taught valuable mom things? And then they would go nap.

If you are a seasoned mother, and even if you are not, you are now cringing because you know that God got me back for that big time. Ha ha! That silly God sure has a sense of humor!

As soon as my children were born, and in some ways before, they promptly taught me these things:
1. I am an utter and complete idiot who knows nothing.
2. My children do not belong to me. They taught me they belonged to themselves even clear back when my abdomen woke me up in the middle of the night for the nightly kidney-pummeling.
3. We have more to learn from our children than we have to teach them. If we’re lucky.
4. My children were the only ones I knew who did not nap from age two on. Ever. And they did this not merely just to torture me, but as direct punishment for wanting soap opera children.
5. I would not have a good night’s sleep again for the better part of a decade, and then they would interrupt my sleep again when they hit adolescence. I’m still not sure when I’ll get to sleep again.
6. I need to remember that the most valuable words I can utter as a mother are, “What do you think?” I should probably carry a roll of duct tape for my mouth along with my own private cue card printed with those words, because it’s surprisingly hard for me to remember.
7. When you are a new mother, and some older woman gasps and says (with judgmental horror), “Oh, I see you do it that way? Well, I guess the baby will be okay,” learn to laugh and ignore her. (And Lord help me never to be that woman!)
8. The best advice I ever got on mothering came from a parenting magazine, and I wish I could remember the author. It was to say these words when the child whines: “I’m sorry, but I can’t understand that voice. Could you talk in your real voice, please?"
9. Mothers don’t really teach. At best, we guide. But mostly we just love, and that is the best lesson there is.
10. I may be an utter and complete idiot who knows nothing, but still, by the absolute grace of God and lots of prayer and a few understanding friends, I still managed to get great children.

So today’s Improper Poll question is:
What have you learned either as a mother or from your mother?  Happy Mother's Day!

Sweater, n.: garment worn by child when its mother is feeling chilly. ~Ambrose Bierce


  1. Does #8 (about the whining) work with adults as well. (I wish...)

    I learned that sterilizing everything is silly. When you're busy putting everything for the baby into your home autoclave, and then you see the baby is sucking on the dog's tail...

    Great post, Tammy. However, you'll get your chance at revenge. When your kids have kids of their own, you'll be able to say, "Grammy says 'Yes" to ice cream and cookies for lunch, eat as much goodies as you want, and now it's time to go back home to mommy and daddy!"

  2. Terrific post. I expected soap opera kids as well...so glad I didn't get them! The real thing is so much better, isn't it? What I learned (we're on the same page today...my post has a list, too) can be summed up with: Love them with all your heart and soul, and back off. The loving them part is easy. The backing off...not so much. I'm getting better at it, though, now that #3 is 17. :) Happy Mother's Day!

  3. Unfortunately, the only thing my mother taught me is how NOT to raise children. I learned that early on, and swore to raise my own children with love and kindness and respect. By that, I mean that a parent should always show respect for their children, and vice versa.

  4. I learned that they survive despite what we do, or don't do. I must have done some things right because I have good kids. Bless you Tammy!

  5. I have learned that like a newborn baby's cry, the cry of "Mom!" can have a variety of meanings. Especially when drawn out to two syllables. These meanings include, but are not limited to:

    * Where are you?
    * Don't change the channel.
    * I have been wronged.
    * Please.
    * Stop it.
    * I want to go now.
    * Come running, I am about to die.
    * Here's a spider.
    * The toilet is overflowing.
    * You like him better.
    * I am going to vomit.
    * I require some assistance in cleaning my anus.
    * Those pieces look equal. You know I deserve the bigger one.
    * I am not ready to go to sleep now.
    * Stop telling people I used to carry a purse.
    * All the other kids get to drink Mountain Dew.
    * I thought I was lost.
    * Make it better.

  6. I'm only the step mom for 3 furry children but your advise still applies. After chasing my youngest for 5 minutes in a down pour I know I heard the neighbors laughing and calling me a "Bloomin idiot."

    Belated Mother's Day!
    Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow


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