My friend Maria Rodriguez used to dream of a book she’d write called It Worked for Me. She’d brainstorm brilliant ideas about parenting, and each chapter would include a scenario and a solution that worked in her house. She’s a soulmate and mentor, and now she’s writing Rock the Cradle: Rule the World, a book about the leadership role of mothers in society. You have to hear Maria speak on this topic. Put it on the list.
I’d like to write a book called What Not to Do. In it, I’d share specific episodes of parental goof-ups, phrases worth swallowing , and knee-jerk reactions to avoid. Not filled with remorse and regret, this guide would being loaded with what I see as anecdotes of tremendous learning experiences. My credibility is based on a long list of “whoopsies” and “oh shoots” and moments of “oh boy, shouldn’t have said that.” I’d like to blame it on having five kids leading to more personalities, more school committees, more teams, friends, interests, complicated dynamics, and opportunities to react. If I lived in a convent, I’d surely have less to sweat about unless those darn nuns got on my nerves. Thank God for my mom, for funny friends who make me feel like I’m not alone, for our kids who revel in telling childhood stories, and for Tim , a constant supporter with a knack for remaining on the outskirts of every crisis.
This brochure would recap actual conversations with friends discussing dilemmas along with my usual response, “Well, I can tell you what not to do.” Reflections of other options would follow because believe me, I’ve thought of them. This mini-guide would be designed to make mothers feel better about themselves and grateful for their ability to zip it – hence, the pamphlet idea.
Headings would include Potty Training Strategies (deep in the memory archives), Grocery Cart Abandonment Policies, Attempts at Dinner, Variances in Academic Perspectives, Wardrobe Consultation, Vehicle Collision Negotiation, Hair, Driver’s Permit Endurance, Alcohol Trojan Horses, Hot Baths Don’t Cure All, Teenage Conspiracy Theory, Young Adult and Furniture Relocation, and Generational Differences in Infant Care.
I marvel that Katie, Bethy, Brendan, Brigid, and Kevin were once under mine and Tim’s exclusive care. Did I really rely on Market Day chicken patties and hot pretzels to feed them instead of kale and quinoa? I rejoice in remembering and delight in looking ahead. I’m thrilled to have made it through times when I needed the wisdom of Solomon, and he wasn’t available. And I thank God for those five incredible blessings of mine called children and for my angel baby granddaughter Eileen who will never eat white bread at my house.
If I ever publish this flyer, I’d pray that the readers’ children would know that their parents will always love them and be there for them, forever. Amen.