What's Your Parenting Mantra?

I think the hardest thing about parenting - aside from the whole sending what is essentially your heart out into the world completely unprotected, plus the amount of vomit and snot you have to deal with - is that it keeps changing.

I remember when Ironflower was a baby and I took her to Target for the first time by myself. All these scenarios kept running through my head;

  • What if she has a poop-splosion?
  • What if she starts screaming and I have to breastfeed her in public?
  • What if I have to go to the bathroom? Is it okay to put the carrier on the floor? Can I bring the cart in?
  • What if she starts screaming and breastfeeding doesn't work? 
  • What if someone tries to kidnap her?
  • What if someone sneezes on her? 
It took a while for me to be comfortable parenting an infant, is what I'm trying to say. And just when I got comfortable with it, Ironflower started to turn into a toddler. She weaned herself. She started throwing things. And she got very, very opinionated. 

One night, (because of course it was at night after I'd taught all day and my very pregnant with Lovebug feet were swollen and sore) Ironflower fell into the side of the coffee table. The table had corner and edge protectors, but naturally she managed to avoid those and hit the hard side. I'm pretty sure both of us cried. 

Hot Guy was, I believe, on stage or on the radio  - someplace where I couldn't call him. Ironflower's forehead had a small cut and a growing bump. I tried to ice the bump and she fussed like she'd never fussed before. I called the pediatrician. 

Part of me - the part of me that wasn't a freaking out still new-ish mom crazed by the hormones of her second pregnancy - knew that she had no signs of concussion and would be fine. But I called anyway. The mellow doctor on call assured me that she would be fine and to apply ice (how I miss the non-hysterical medical care we got in the midwest). "But she hates the ice! She won't let me hold it on her head!" I probably wailed to the poor guy. 

"You're the parent," he said calmly. 

Oh. Right. 

So I held the damn ice on her head and by the next day she hardly had any bump at all. I, however, had toddler heel shaped bruises on my thighs and a healthy respect for my daughter's lung capacity.

parenting advice

I also had a parenting mantra that worked really well. "You're the parent," echoed through my head as we negotiated walking, talking, sharing, dressing and all of those other milestones that can make parenting young children challenging. It's all I want to say to the desperate newer moms in the Facebook groups I read, as they discuss how much their 2 year old hates the car seat/potty training/receiving the wrong color cup. When you've got an infant, your goal is to soothe them. That's not a good plan when your 18 month old is determined to run into traffic. Your goal has to go from soothing to correcting.

But now, now I've got kids who don't run into traffic. They don't scream if I give them the wrong color cup. In fact, they don't really care what color their cup is. It's liberating, but it's also terrifying. No pediatrician has helpfully provided a mantra for this stage. And while there's still correcting and soothing to be done, it's a lot more complicated than saying a resounding "No!" or nursing on demand.

The closest I've come is, "Don't raise assholes." And while I'm proud that my kids don't knock toddlers over in their haste to be first in line at the ice cream truck while yelling, "Moooooooom, give me money, don't be a bitch***!" I don't feel it incorporates the entire experience of parenting elementary school aged kids.

Though, to be honest, if more people adopted that as a mantra the world would probably be a better place.

Anyway, do you have a parenting mantra? Has it evolved as your kids have gotten older? 

***This really happened. Local readers, it was at Finch Park a few summers ago. 

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