Written by: Andrea Angileri, Ed.S
Children are teachers, and they get paid about as much too. Here are things that I have learned from my four children and the many children I’ve been blessed to cross paths with.
1. Let Them Be Little…and then move on. I’m fairly convinced that one of the reasons I had four children instead of two was that I knew I’d be moping along with an 11 year old and 14 year old missing the pitter patter of little feet. Little children are adorable with their unfiltered mouths, emotions, and cherub faces. Love them, squeeze them, play with them, and then let them grow up.
2. Motherhood is eternal. You never stop being a mother. It is an eternal bond and life sentence. The love, the worry, conception to death and then in the afterlife.
3. Mistakes are Inevitable. I don’t even like the word mistakes, but prefer ‘learning opportunities’ or ‘creative life choices’. That being said, there are many women behind bars (real or imagined) because of a series of these ‘mistakes’. For the more fortunate ones, they are chances to grow, learn, and teach.
4. Children are Free Agents. Children will have natural talents and abilities that we can nurture, but they are really in charge of their own God given gifts. Just because they can draw comic books doesn’t mean you need to look into an internship at Marvel, nor do they have to get into show business because they excel at dancing. It dawned on me when I was more excited about a hip hop convention with thoughts of L.A. than my kid was that I had to step back. I had to give the ninja sleep hold with finger to my lip with a dramatic and comedic ‘SHHH’ as my inner stage mom quietly passed out of my ego. I take this into my writing. While a lot of things take effort, writing comes naturally. It’s enjoyable because I control it and decide what to do with it. It’s also fairly cheap…only shavings of my soul are spent.
5. Never Overestimate or Underestimate a Child. Tough lesson, but children are unpredictable. I’ve tucked a 5 year old into bed discovering a quarter in his mouth and have discovered a 7 year old climb on top of a refrigerator randomly to clean it. They keep you on your toes which brings me to number 6.
6. Never Say Never. My child will never do that, say that, act like that, think that or make ME do that, say that, act like that, think that. L..O…L. Boys were no surprise to me as I found myself babysitting for families with boys throughout my adolescence and adult life (So obviously, God was preparing me to have 3 boys). He knew I’d be stubborn and shoot for the girl though, which is why he had me practice with babysitting little girls. Unlike boys, I’d find myself falling short with this new ‘kind’, but I’d come to realize it was also really good practice to become better equipped for parenting a little girl. That being said, I clearly recall a moment where I witnessed a preteen scream, “I HATE YOU!!” at her mother who was dropping her off at school. Trust me, every time my 5 year old daughter spontaneously says, “I like you Mom”…”I love you Mom”…I have learned to bask in the moment and Never Say Never.
7. Children Help You Face Your Fears. We are loaded with fears, children just help us magnify them. Take a moment and conjure up your biggest fear…..now throw a kid or two in the mix. Like Patsy Cline lamented, “Oh Stop the World and Let Me Off!”. Raising kids is scary and therapeutic all at the same time, constantly pushing us out of our comfort zones. We read the headlines, we may even know the people associated with them, and we might even have to outlive our worst nightmares. These are the cold, hard facts. As a consolation prize you get to write a memoir.
8. Children are Entertaining. Because they cause us such anxiety and financial depletion, children will say and do the darn’dest things. I give you permission to write these things down, take a picture, and even post some of it..whatever you need to do to remember it..but maybe draw a line and don’t overdo it because apparently nobody else thinks your potty shot is funny…including your kid.
9. Children Push You to Make You Better. Anything that teaches you anything makes you better. I’m not saying that people who are parents are better than people who are not parents. Maybe I’m saying children or people who act like children make you better. I don’t know…I don’t write to make friends. I’m just saying that children hold you accountable for your own inadequacies. They point out your strengths and your weaknesses…whether directly (‘You have a big tummy’) or indirectly (Giving you a dirty look after a day long grudge). Children make you WANT to be better. I’m not saying every day will be a success, but children daily refine you to be more patient, understanding, compassionate, flexible, loving, better decision makers, better financial planners, etc. but only if you are open to it.
10. Mommy Guilt Goes Better With Chocolate. Maybe that’s what my book title will be called. Mommy Guilt is like the national debt…it’s never going away and seems to be growing with the next generation. Somehow moms and dads seem to have made parenting some sort of contest. At best I say it’s ‘survival of the fittest’. I’ve experience mommy guilt, daycare child guilt, preschool teacher guilt, and even random stranger kid guilt. Staying awake thinking of ways I could have been better equipped to be a caregiver to children I never birthed…what…ever. The key goes into feeling secure as a parent because you are happy with your choices. While ‘thinking before parenting’ would be wonderfully ideal, it ain’t real life. Parenting is full of impulses, some days we are just 2 slammed doors and 1 f-bomb away from a SuperNanny episode. We do the best we can. Some days are a hit, some are a miss. Heck, some HOURS are a hit, some are a miss.
I conclude with a thought of future posts, but a stronger desire for anything chocolately.