My Crazy, So-Called Life with Kids

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Moments both humorous and profound follow the trajectory of family life. Cherish them!

Twelve years have melted away since motherhood planted itself firmly into my heart, wrapped its tendrils around my soul and lovingly commandeered my life. While I’m amazed at how much I’ve learned in such a short space of time, raising two little kids to develop into responsible, generous and kind people is a daily work in progress. Nonetheless, here are a few of the golden lessons I can chalk up so far.

50 Life Lessons You’ll Learn

  1. When feeling mired in sick days, unappreciated and bone-tired, remember you’re not the only one who fells that way.
  2. Every mom needs a “been-there, done-that” seasoned mom in her life to help put parenthood into perspective, calm anxieties and provide resources.
  3. The ring of dirt left around the bathtub after evening baths is a tell-tale sign that your child had a top-10 day.
  4. Keep a quotes journal for the funny, sweet and poignant things your child says.
  5. The $100 interactive dinosaur exhibit isn’t nearly as fun as the free model train exhibit.
  6. When your child presents you with a handful of sweaty, wilting dandelions, they become your favorite flowers.
  7. Kids will forget their backpack, socks and a coat, but they’ll never forget a promise you made days ago.
  8. It’s OK if your kids don’t like sports.
  9. Keep your favorite photo of each child nearby to remind you of their inherent sweetness, especially in those moments when they act out like little punks.
  10. Hugs make everything better. The run, tackle, squeeze hug nearly knocks me off my feet every time.
  11. Sitting in a bathroom in the middle of the night with the shower running to create steam helps a baby suffering with croup. The steam is also a great way to get a 3 a.m. facial.
  12. Little kids’ pockets contain a treasure-trove of discoveries.
  13. If you’re like me, the first time your child says he loves you, takes a step or rides a bike without training wheels, you’ll cry.
  14. You’ll discover which of your children has the worst gag reflex when you bring home a new puppy who gets really sick in its crate.
  15. A parenting strategy that works with one child might not work with another.
  16. If you want an honest opinion, ask your child. Chances are he’ll tell you anyway.
  17. Teaching kids to say “please” and “thank you” matters.
  18. Listening to your kids matters a lot.
  19. Follow your instincts. The pediatrician isn’t always right. Find a new one if he blows you off or is condescending.
  20. The best time to find out about your child’s day is during car rides or when she doesn’t want to eat her dinner or at bedtime.
  21. You may have to ask for your meal “to go” sometimes, but taking your kids to nice restaurants helps them learn social graces and boundaries in public places.
  22. When stuck in an airplane with a toddler in melt-down mode, sometimes the only thing you can do is pretend you don’t know him.
  23. Mud, dirt and boxes provide hours of entertainment.
  24. Experiences are more valuable than stuff.
  25. You won’t be the first parent to pick up your wailing child and abandon your shopping cart in the middle of the store.
  26. Learn together and take as many opportunities as possible to explore science, nature, music and art.
  27. Play board games and cards together. Not only will your children learn math and reading skills, they will learn how to win and lose gracefully.
  28. Parent time-outs can help you remain calm, cool and collected in a heated moment.
  29. Counting together backward from 20 helps an upset child (or parent) calm down.
  30. Take walks with your child. Walking side by side encourages conversation.
  31. Incentives and rewards work for kids and parents.
  32. Going outside for a breath of fresh air while your spouse takes over the bedtime routine is a sanity saver on rough days.
  33. A glass of wine works, too.
  34. And chocolate. Dark. For your heart.
  35. Scheduling time just for you isn’t selfish. Self-care makes you a better parent.
  36. Pursuing personal interests and goals teaches your children that care-taking is only one of your roles.
  37. Share your interests with your child.
  38. Find a trustworthy, dependable sitter who your children like. How can kids miss you if you never go away?
  39. Spending time with your spouse making dinner and watching a movie after the kids go to bed is almost as fun as a night on the town.
  40. Kids think it’s fun to sneak up on you and scare you. But if they truly catch you unprepared and you scream, you might make them cry.
  41. Save the notes your child writes you.
  42. Write notes to your child.
  43. Singing opera in the middle of the grocery store will turn spotlight-averse fighting siblings into model citizens almost immediately.
  44. Teach your child that it’s perfectly acceptable to spend a little time alone to brood, create, read, pray and rest.
  45. Boo-boos don’t hurt as much when you stick an Avengers Band-Aid on them.
  46. Nurture your child’s interests. Even if they seem a little unusual.
  47. Kids are curious. Be curious, too.
  48. Begin and end every day with a hug and a kiss.
  49. Forgive yourself. Parenting is tough and sometimes you do and say the wrong thing.
  50. Every child has the potential to change the world. Your child already changed yours.

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