I read this adorable blog post the other day about how to be a "happy" and "productive" stay-at-home mom. I don't mean to sound as condescending as I'm sure I do...it's just that...here's the thing with offering broad, unsolicited advice to an entire group of individuals....You don't know Our Story. What works beautifully for your family made me literally snort my coffee.
2. Become an early riser. I used to sleep until the girls woke up. Then we would all be tired, trying to wake up and get some breakfast, and it would become chaos. Now I try to wake up before the girls so I can have some coffee and sit by myself and watch the morning news. Get yourself ready for the day during this time. Shower, get dressed, do your hair, brush your teeth; whatever your routine for getting ready is, do it in this time. That way if you do have to go somewhere, you just get the kids ready and go. Plus it's a kick start to the day and that way you can get more done instead of sitting in your pajamas all day.
If I were to wake up before my children, the morning news anchors would still be asleep. I'm pretty sure even my coffee-maker would cry foul and refuse to start. But that's just me. Just my family. Just my weirdo kids who don't sleep.
But that's beside the point. My point is: One stay-at-home mom offering broad, unsolicited advice, or helpful "tips," to all other stay-at-home moms is about as helpful as the octogenarian in the grocery store telling me that wearing my baby in the Ergo is going to spoil my child. No, Grandma; it's my inability to refuse my child's puppy-dog eyes that's going to spoil my kids...not my hands-free baby-wearing.
My mom has always said that, had they stopped having children after their first two, she would be the most smug parent in the world. My older sister and I were easy. We were rule-followers who played well together. Had she stopped at two, she would have considered herself a Parenting Expert. Her Potty Training Manual would have read:
"Wait until your child is ready to Potty Train. Allow her to pick out her own Big Girl underwear. This will be an incentive for your child to successfully use the potty. Which she will do. Immediately. This will happen before the age of 2."
Then she had her third child...who was three and a half before he used the potty...and even then I don't think anyone would have called it "successful." But still, her three children were well-mannered and compliant. We first three were Pleasers.
Then came Baby #4 who refused to sleep and wore a constant, yet adorable, impish grin as he refused to follow the neatly-in-a-line footsteps of his older siblings. There came a day when he, then two and a half years old, ran, laughing, down the street away from my Mom. At nine months pregnant with Baby #5, she wasn't able to catch up to him, which he surely understood, and she realized that perhaps there's no such thing as a Parenting Expert.
My parents went on to have four more children after Baby #4, and each of the eight of us has given my parents the "opportunities" to earn more stripes on their parenting badges than they ever could have thought possible. And therein lies the wisdom.....
The more you experience in life, the more lessons you learn, the more you realize that there is still so much more for you to learn....so much that you can't possibly know. That you might not ever know.
So take my broad, unsolicited advice, all of you different and unique individuals who have different and unique children and circumstances and challenges:
Share your stories. Share your struggles. Share your triumphs. Share your Lessons Learned.
But own the fact that, even if you have it ALL figured out, you only have it figured out for you and for now....because parenting is really practicing the art of flexibility and adaptability and change. That's sort of the beauty of Parenthood.
That and, I'm sure, the fact that someday my parents will get to see their beautifully impish grandchild run, laughing, away from their fourth-born.
I'm really not trying to criticize the author of the blog post. Truly, I respect her for having the confidence to post her success as a stay-at-home mom as a how-to guide for moms who might be struggling. And let's be honest: I, too, have offered plenty of unsolicited advice in real life and certainly on this blog. But, damn. On that magical day that I wake up before my kids, I promise you I won't be watching the news or doing my hair. I'll be rolling over and going back to sleep.