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Awe-inspiring parenting, sort of

One mom offers her tips on achieving somewhat awesome parenting 

By Lianne MacNeil

I never grew up dreaming of getting married, owning my own home, being a domestic goddess and craft-maker extraordinaire. And I certainly never dreamed of being someone’s mom. 

I’m not vain, but I think I’m doing a pretty good job of keeping my children happy, healthy and educated and on the right track to being polite, intelligent and valuable members of the human race. While there are certain qualities that are necessary to being a good parent I have almost 22 years of experience on how to learn from your mistakes and be the best-that-you-could-possibly-hope-for mom on the block. No one does what I call “somewhat awesome parenting” quite like me. 

Here’s my personal list of the ins-and-outs of parenting as a veteran of three children, years of home child care and additional time working within local public schools. It may not be pretty and it may not be for everyone, but it’s the world of parenting as I know it and it works.

Spits and giggles. It’s all fun and games until someone giggles and spits! Humour will get you through the majority of your parenting years and laughter is the Grace Kelly of surviving the blessing of your beautiful children. Don’t worry about always being right, rigidly following the rules or about appearing silly because your children will love you anyway. Giggle when it’s funny, hide your snicker when it’s not but never forget to laugh. As Mark Twain once said, “The human race has only one really effective weapon and that is laughter.” I’d like to think his weapon reference was about parenting but who can say? It’s also been suggested that you should “end the name of your child with a vowel, so that when you yell the name will carry.” Amen to that.

Crying is so OK. There will definitely be many times in your years of parenting in which laughter is just not enough. So I’m here to reassure you that crying is completely normal and should be used at all times when possible. Crying rules of thumb indicate that it’s acceptable for babies to cry, it’s OK to let your kids cry and it’s perfectly fine and normal for you to cry. Whether we are sad, scared, frustrated or injured, there is always an actual reason that we are crying so don’t try to stop those tears. Weeping, sobs and sometimes even frantic wailing are there to help, can be very therapeutic and, I promise, will help whatever is bothering you pass more quickly if you just let it flow. Release the boohoo, Kraken!

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Orange is the new black and hiding is the new sanity. New parents will likely jump back in shock while seasoned parents will tweak neck muscles from their emphatic nodding. A locked bathroom door, the running faucet and loud fan will become your best friend. You will hide to use the washroom and you will hide to cry and gain personal strength on a bad day. You will 100 per cent hide to eat a chocolate treat without having to share and, although you’ll see their little fingers poking under the door, you will most likely grow to love the freedom of The Hide. Take it from me, friend. If your child is safe from harm just take a moment to lock the bathroom door, turn on the fan, blast the faucet and enjoy a whole two minutes of your hot coffee or bowl of ice cream, uninterrupted. 

Grossed lightning. Farts, burps, snot, eye boogers, nose boogers, poop in every texture, pee, throw-up, toe jams and belly-button stink. Your beautiful, well-mannered little child is going to find these fascinating, terrifying or hilarious and if you don’t believe me then it’s a giant misconception on your part. Every single charming item in the first sentence of this paragraph is what you should expect when you’re expecting: they’re universal. They’re gross. Deal with them. 

Soppy, sloppy and schmaltzy. You must be sappy to survive parenthood from birth to infinity and beyond. We automatically hug our children when physical affection is needed or wanted, but you must also squeeze them tight when they push you away. Even more difficult is that we absolutely must give them hugs when we don’t want to and if you don’t believe that’s possible just wait until the pre-teen years. Fathers must be willing participants in tea parties, mothers must learn to make passable truck noises and everyone must learn to enjoy a good knock-knock or “He touched the butt!” Finding Nemo joke. 

The parenting journey is a gift and privilege but finding your own path is a challenge even on the best days. As Maryanne Radmacher said, “Courage does not always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying I will try again tomorrow.” Wax on, wax off and stay strong my friends. May the force be with you in this wide and wonderful world of Somewhat Awesome Parenting.