My Parenting Understudy

You know what's sad? It's when your college kid comes back home for a semester and does a better job parenting her siblings than you do. Like, you're doing the daily "Hey! No media before jobs and homework are done and rooms are clean! And pick up that bowl! What's it doing under the sofa anyway? You making a food offering to the couch gods?" Everyone is grumbling and casting stank-eyes at you, and you're considering throwing out the old "Don't you look at me like that! Do you know how many stretch-marks I have because of you? A tree should have so many rings!"

Then your oldest child walks in, looks up from sorting the mail she's just pulled from the box, smiles and says: "Hey guys! Let's get our jobs done. Mom should only have to ask once, you know?" And wuhBAM! Everyone's eyes suddenly clear and they jump up and say "Why yes of course we shall do our jobs for our beloved mother. Whatever was the matter with us?" And off they scamper to swish toilets, with my College Kid calling down the hall, "That's what I'm talkin' 'bout! Do it fast and I'll take you to get frozen yogurt afterward." 

Uh huh.

What's she got that I don't got?

I mean aside from taught skin, thick shining hair, and none of those weird little capillaries that burst beneath the skin then stay with you for the rest of your life as small red Welcome-Freckles. 

And why do my other peeps listen to her more easily than to me? I mean, we both have lovely speaking voices (especially once I relax my neck so the tendons aren't bulging, pull my jaw back from it's upright and locked position, and relax my eyes so they look slightly less, er, squinty and crazed.) We are both graceful (after I stop jabbing the air with a pointy fingertip or flapping my arms like a cracked-out Dodo bird when asking where they hinkypunk they've been for the past two hours.) And we both ooze love (I definitely love my kids. I also ooze. I think this qualifies.)

Some of it has to do with Freshness. I mean, my kid has a ton of shelf-life left. She hasn't spent 21 years trying to figure out how to parent, making corrections once it's obvious she's heading down the wrong path, staying up all night with a kid who forgot about their science fair project until right before bed-time the night before, dealing with two weeks of synchronized vomiting, or trying to relax despite the fact that middle-child isn't home yet and it's an hour past the designated return time. 

Yeah. It's hard to stay fresh after a certain number of years rolling through all of that.

On the other hand, freshness is critical as your kids hit every new stage of development. It's why women have girlfriends and go to women's expos and parenting  classes. It's why we occasionally need a day off, or a trip to Ireland, or a Pride and Prejudice marathon. It's why spontaneous gifts of flowers and jewelry slingshot us back to the top of our game. We just need an ocasional spin in the Fluff-Cycle of Life.

So, child o' mine. You're going to be a great mother someday. And when that day comes and you're feeling less than permanent-pressed, I'll be happy to be your little Bounce-sheet. (No, I did not receive any free fabric softener to make that totally adorable metaphor.) In the meantime, thanks for all your help. I heart you.

Now see if you can't get little bro to peel himself off the PlayStation long enough to do his homework, hmm? I'm Fluffing.

About Janiel 433 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.


    • That’s definitely it. Preferably a fluff-cycle that is somewhere near me. 🙂 It was fun seeing you when you were last here!

  1. Thanks Mom! 🙂 hope you’re having fun off and about bouncing around different parts of the world 😉
    And, for the record, I think you are fantastic–flapping, dodo-birding, laughing, oozing, loving et all 😉

  2. I have observed in my life that more talkative people tend to get dismissed more. It is the EF Hutton effect, those who talk less, people listen when they do talk. We all do it, I know several people here more talkative than I am, and I tune them out really fast.

    As for obeying her when you are gone, that happens with everyone. It is that kids know you well enough to know they can get away with something. You raised them, they know how to play off you. With Lizz they don’t.

    There, I pulled a Coco Chanel – I deleted the last thing I was going to say.
    What was it you ask?
    I can’t remember what it was. I talked so much that I tuned myself out…. 😉

  3. The non-mom factor is huge. Especially with big brothers and sisters that you want to have like you and let you tag after them. (Do you remember that feeling? It was so thrilling when Dave would let me watch him draw or paint or swing from trees like Tarzan! I’d do anything to get him to spend time with me.)
    It even occurred with me as a teacher. At SEP conferences, I would invariably say something like “It must be nice to have such a good listener and helper in your family. She always does what she is supposed to and sets such a good example!” Some parents would look at me vaguely like “Aren’t we supposed to be talking about MY child?” Then they would ask my secret. The only secret was that the kids knew I didn’t have to love them (although I always did.)

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