One of the things I’ve always hated about my vocation, is that EVERYBODY has an opinion on how you should do your job. People don’t go around telling Engineers how to build bridges, or Surgeons how to perform surgery; people tend to defer to the expertise, education and training of other professionals in their respective fields. But, if motherhood is your career of choice, one must always be prepared for an onslaught of unsolicited input on how to do this particular job. The problem as I see it, lies in the fact that this profession is woefully overexposed – EVERYONE, either IS a Mother, is close friends with a Mother, knows a Mother or, God forbid, actually had a Mother themselves…
Generally, I usually find other people’s opinions well-meaning and useless; I believe we really do know, instinctively, what’s best for our own kids… I don’t mean to imply that I’m Never open to outside suggestions. In fact, I have managed through the years, to stumble inadvertently across several nuggets of wisdom from some rather unconventional sources:
The Federal Aviation Administrartion
(Lesson: Take care of your Kid’s Mom – No one Else Wants to Take Over In The Event Of Your Untimely Demise)
Before I had children, when I would take the occasional flight, I was always surprised that the airline warned you, that, “in the event of an actual emergency,” always put your own oxygen mask on first. I really felt like this flew in the face (pun intended) of the very essence of parenting, as I understood it, (which I clearly did not).
I was always taken aback at this instruction and “judgy”, in the way that, only people who haven’t had kids yet, can be. It wasn’t until many years, and several kids later, on a flight out of Orlando, while 2 year old James repeatedly threw his small plastic horses, with remarkable accuracy, at the heads of the passengers seated around us, that I came to understand the metaphorical imperative. It suddenly dawned on me that, if I should pass out due to a sudden drop in cabin pressure, no one, in their right mind, would be as motivated as I would be, to rescue my little Horse Whisperer.
The Local Fire Department
(Lesson: Motherhood is not as effortless as some of us make it look)
I explain it to Jimmy like this, “You look over at those Firemen when you’re sitting at a red light, in front of the Fire Station, and you mutter to yourself, “They’ve got the life! What do those guys do all day anyway? Play checkers and wash the fire truck?”
And that’s what it sure seems like, right up until there’s a blazing fire to be put out; then, they’re the first ones to run into the flames! It’s comforting and reassuring to know they’re “on call” and ready to go.
That’s exactly how it is with Moms. You might resent whatever it is you think we really do all day, right up until the proverbial crap hits the fan!!! And then you can’t hand the emergency over to Mama fast enough. We may look like carefree slackers, but we’re your family “First Responders.” So, if you see us out and about laughing gaily, seemingly without a care in the world- remember we will be the first ones to run right into the flames of a family emergency, while everyone else practices their stop, drop and roll.
A Restaurant In Texas
(Lesson: You Can’t Fight DNA)
There is a restaurant in Houston, called “A Taste Of Texas,” that Jimmy and I dined at a few times when we were younger. While I can’t remember what their menu was or if I even liked the food, my future parenting endeavors were profoundly affected by a sign they had posted right by the Hostess Stand. The sign said, “The Management requests that children not Alter the Atmosphere of this Dining Establishment”. What’s relevant here, is that it indelibly planted a seed in my mind, that it was actually possible to raise children who did not alter the atmosphere of their surroundings, and I do so love a challenge! Unsurprisingly, all 5 of my kids turned out to be “Atmosphere Alterers,” in spite of my best efforts. It was written on their DNA – (on their Dad’s side)
A Wise, Crabby Old Asian Woman
(Lesson: Live With It, There are No “do-overs”)
There was a smaller, less poshy, Chinese restaurant in Houston, that Jimmy and I dined at ONLY ONCE. We ordered two entrees, a tea and a Diet Coke. When I took a sip of my tea, I noticed it had a funny taste, kind of stale. So I motioned for my server and asked for a Coke instead. When the bill was presented, she had charged us for all 3 beverages. I was unconcerned, as I was certain, we would sort it out when we got to the cashier. When I explained the situation to the elderly Cashier/Owner, she got a very disgusted look on her face and literally screeched, “You Order Tea, You Pay Tea!!”
We forked over the additional 85 cents, which was a small price to pay, considering, that we have told this story at least 300 times. (It kills at cocktail parties!) What a valuable life lesson… Many was the night, when the kids were little, and, I was at the end of my rope, Jimmy would just smile at me and say, “You Order Baby, You Pay Baby!!”
Raising great kids takes patience and time; it’s a long and arduous process.
My best unsolicited advice: Trust the Mom in the Mirror… Everyone else can just hold their horses!