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Saturday, October 10, 2009

And Then Some

Johnson’s and Johnson’s says that “having a baby changes everything.” They should have added, “and then some.” I knew that having a baby would change my life. What I didn’t realize was that the landscape of who I am would be permanently and fundamentally altered. Looking at my life now, there are remnants of my previous self. After all, we are the collective result of our past experiences. But those remnants are much like ruins of an old ancient city buried under the sands of time. And it’s better to just build a newer, stronger foundation and leave the broken stuff buried.

I have learned – and had to unlearn – so much about my life and life in general since I’ve traded in my tiny purse for a gigantic diaper about ten times the size of my last clutch. Motherhood is a constant teacher and here is a small list of the things I’ve learned so far:

1. Trix cereal will instantly and permanently stain carpet. Really, it does. I think if I ever want my hair purple or red or orange, I will just grind up some Trix cereal and apply it like normal hair dye.

2. I need to stop trying to make my parents proud of me. They are proud of me because I go to bed every night and wake up every morning. I need to concentrate on making my kids proud of me.

3. $80 is too much to pay for a pair of jeans, regardless of how fantastic they make my butt look.

4. I’ve learned how much patience I have and how much patience I lack.

5. Food coloring is essential in a Mom’s kitchen. You never know when you may have to whip up some turtle juice or green eggs and ham.

6. I’m very fortunate and blessed to have a partner in life who loves his family and is working hard to give us all the things he wants us to have. I think a close-knit family is a rare thing anymore and I treasure mine. My husband is my best friend and he is our children’s best friend.

7. Caffeine is also my friend.

8. I’ve learned how important honesty, integrity and keeping my word truly are. At one time in my previous life, I never took much stock in those things. I now realize that having a good character and being a person of integrity are a couple of the most important things in life. I really am only as good as my word.

9. I now know that, previous to having children, whatever I thought was the worst smell I could have possibly encountered up to that point is nothing compared to some of the toxic waste that comes out of my bundles of joy. It’s not even close.

10. I’ve learned that sometimes people need a second chance. Maybe even a third. I know I did. But I know there is also a time to just let go.

11. Google is a wonderful thing. I’m so happy I have somewhere I can go to get quick – and correct – answers to “But WHY???????????”

12. I’ve learned that sometimes the best way I can help my kids succeed is just to stand by and watch them fail. I want to do everything I can to help them, but I know that sometimes that’s letting them do things themselves. This is one of the most difficult things about motherhood for me and will only get harder.

13. The best kinds of toys are the ones that don’t need batteries. I love it when my little guy hands me a block and says, “It’s a flashlight” or “It’s a lasso” or “It’s a bear! RUN!!” Toys without batteries are usually toys with “imagination included.” In addition, there are certain toys with batteries that should come with a timer of some sort that prevents them from working on a Saturday morning when Mom and Dad stayed up too late on Friday.

14. I’ve learned how important the second amendment is. I would go to any lengths to protect my family and I deserve that right. The government can’t protect my family first hand so they should never be allowed to take that right away from me.

15. I never knew that my mother was a ventriloquist but since I’ve had children, I’ve discovered that she’s a very good one. There are things that my mother used to say that I promised myself I would never repeat and somehow those words are finding their way out of my mouth in the exact voice as my mother. And the older my kids get, the better my mother gets at her ventriloquist act.

16. I’ve learned how precious life is and that I took too many unnecessary risks with mine. I must have had my own personal fleet of guardian angels and I know I probably wore them out.

17. Sometimes only Dad will do. And I shouldn’t take that personally.

18. While I wouldn’t trade my life for anything, I realize how haphazardly I squandered my youth – as if it would never end. But it’s never too late to do your best.

19. I may have to repeat the names of certain things several times before they learn them, but it only takes one utterance of a swear word to be ingrained in my babies’ heads and quickly repeated over and over again – and in the right context.

20. Good health is one of the most important gifts I can give my family. I want to be able to play, run, jump, skip, summersault, everything with my family. But more than anything, I want to be with them and be there for them as long as I can.

As I said, Motherhood is a constant teacher. I’m sure that my report card will come in many forms. There will mostly like be marks like “needs improvement” and “satisfactory” and “unsatisfactory”, but hopefully there will be quite a few A’s too.

This post was written and submitted by Dana Diehlman.

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