Everything I Know About Parenting I Learned In … um … er

My, how life changes us. You know? 

My college sophomore-child dropped by the other day (because apparently my washer has better agitation-action than the ancient squirrel-on-a-wheel machine that resides in her apartment basement. Plus my oven cooks better. And our ears are bigger. The better for us to hear her with, my dears.) And I was struck by how wonky time is. My kid was suddenly a college sophomore, while having just entered pre-school the year before. Yet at the same time that whole little-kid era of hers seems like a thousand years ago. A different life. A different girl. A different mom.

I was a bit psychotic about being a stay-at-home mom when my kid was dinky. I had been working as a software marketing rep and driving all over the midwest. Then I'd switched to a management position in the Trade Shows division and was traveling all over the world doing shows and speeches and getting paid an absurd amount of money for it. It was a riot, quite frankly. I loved that job.

But I had this child. And another one on the way. And I wasn't the one teaching her the little daily life's lessons she needed to learn. Her babysitter was. I wasn't there when she took her first step. I was when she rolled over. But that first step? She did it at the baby sitter's house.

My sitter–cute woman that she was–kept having my daughter sit down and not walk when I came to get her each day so that I would think her first step was with me. And I totally did. I was completely amazed at my child's genius when one day she just stood up and started ambling all over the house. I shrieked and called my husband over: "OMIGOSH! LOOK WHAT OUR CHILD IS DOING! OUR BRILLIANT CHILD! SHE DIDN'T EVEN TAKE A FIRST STEP! SHE'S JUST WALKING! WALKING!!!!! WE'RE AMAZING!!!!" 

Yeah. It took about a month of watching other peoples' kids hit the same phase for me to realize my kid had been walking at the babysitter's house for ages and I just didn't know it.

And that was the straw that broke my paycheck. I decided to quit my job, sell the house, and buy something smaller so I could be the one to teach my kids to walk, and talk, and bake soufflé. And it was going to be SO PERFECT. I was going to be SO PERFECT. LET THE HUNKY-DORI-NESS BEGIN!

I started my Stay-At-Home tenure by dragging my 87-months-preggo belly up to my kitchen bar, and reaching around it to painstakingly cut out Barney and Baby Bob heads and arms for us to glue onto paper bags .That was going to be our afternoon activity: Barney Paper Bag Puppets. I even used variegated shades of construction paper to give the whole thing a sort of 3-D look. And I'm not much of an artist, so this took, like, forever. The whole time kiddo was taking her morning nap.

Then I got out bread and peanut butter, jam, ham, cheese, tuna fish, mayo and some tiny little canapé cutters. I made sandwiches of every type out of her favorite white bread (with a touch of wheat blended in), and then cut them into sun, moon, star, and leaf shapes with my itty bitty cutters. I arranged the puppets and sandwich-ettes on the bar in lovely Feng Shui-ness, and stood there waiting for girl-child to come downstairs and see it, imagining the delight on her face.

And I waited.

And waited.

Then I went up and got her, barely containing my excitement over how impressed my two year-old was going to be over all the work I had put into nurturing-up her life.

Well. It turned out that sometime in the past year my tot had, unbeknownst to me, moved on from Barney to Tele Tubbies. So she just yawned at the puppets and said, "Don't want to." 

Then, undaunted, I offered her the little plate of Polly Pocket sandwiches. To which she shook her pigtailed head and said, "Dzicken Nujjecks." (Google Translator: Chicken Nuggets)

After a total of about 4 minutes enjoying my motherly handiwork, my ingrate child trotted back upstairs and played with her soon-to-be brother's cars. Oblivious to the fantasy-dashed mom-blob of hormones she'd left in the kitchen.

Wait. What? I'd quit my job. I was sacrificing. MY KID WAS SUPPOSED TO WEEP WITH JOY EVERY TIME SHE SAW THE FRUITS OF MY LOVING LABORS FOR HER. What the heck was this all about? And guess what? It went along that way forever: me trying to figure out exactly what my kids needed—and what they needed turning out to be no where near the same planet as what I'd thought it was going to be. My old job had been a lot more logical.

Well, this was what I was here to do, come rain, shine, Barney, or baby corn dogs, so I was going to do it. Eventually I settled for the comforting thought that at least I wasn't paying someone else to give my kid neuroses. They were MINE, honey! And finally I chilled out and realized my children didn't need all those cutie-poo "special touches" that I wasn't good at doing. They just needed me. Good, bad, or ugly. And like I said, at least their neuroses were home-grown. 

Flash forward to now: My kids have survived. I didn't make or break any of them. And hopefully some of the absolute coolness that I see in them these days is there in some small part because of me. Either way, it's an honor to be their mom. They're awesome.

Especially when they do their jobs and get rid of the moss that has been slowly taking over the guest bathroom. Then they're really REALLY awesome.

(Kids. I know you read my blog. Somebody gotta do something about that moss. It's been winking at me as I walk past. –With love, the Keeper of the Keys and Stocker of the Fridge.)

About Janiel 432 Articles
I have managed to keep the same husband for nearly three decades, and the same four children for almost that long - although one or two of them say it has been much longer. I have been writing since I learned to hold a pencil, and trying to make people laugh even longer. I hope to do some good in the world before I go the way of it. And if not, I'd better at least get to visit Ireland.


  1. haha, i actually remember those puppets. They were pretty intense. Unfortunate, really, that it’s taken me 18+ years to appreciate the craftsmanship–so it’s long overdue, but THANKS MOM 🙂

    • You remember that? Wow, girl. Heckuva memory! And you’re welcome. My life has now come full circle and I am complete. Thanks, chicklet!

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