Monday, April 27, 2009

What I've Learned As a Parent ...

Let me bestow upon you some of the wisdom that I've acquired through the glorious, trouble-free, blissful years of my children's early childhood. This is by no means an exhaustive list, and there may be more pearls of wisdom to come.

Lesson 1. I know nothing. Not, "I don't know as much as I thought I did," but I know nothing.

Lesson 2. Once I figure out something, it changes. What worked yesterday won't work today, especially if I bought a bunch of stuff to make that thing work.

Lesson 3. There is one thing I have figured out: that I won't know anything for sure. Ever.

Lesson 4. Once I think I'm beginning to get a handle on things, the next kid comes along and knocks that smugness right out of me, into the bleachers. Home run, baby!

Lesson 5. What worked for Kid 1 won't work for Kid 2. In fact, what worked like a charm for Kid 1 (especially if it was an expensive charm that took a lot of effort and knowledge) will be the exact opposite of what Kid 2 needs. Kid 2 will need yet another expensive, effort- and knowledge-intensive thingie, which is diametrically opposed to Kid 1's sensibilities and will probably have to be brought out in a room distant from Kid 1 to keep Kid 1 from screaming, which of course means that Kid 1 will be screaming anyway because I'm across the house doing something really cool with Kid 2.

Lesson 6. What worked for Kid 1 or Kid 2 won't work for Kid 3. In fact, Kid 3 needs something so different, so opposite of what Kid 1 and Kid 2 needed that I'm questioning the parentage of Kid 3, even though I saw him emerge bloodied from my body and I know that I didn't have sex with anyone other than my husband (after all, I was too damn tired and butt ugly to have sex with anyone, including my husband, but hey, he's my husband and the guy needs a break after putting up with an exhausted wife and two diametrically opposed kids screaming from opposite ends of the house).

Lesson 7. With all that, there'll never be a Kid 4.

Lesson 8. My kids know more than I do. Really. And they'll be the first to tell you. I also know that I need to listen to them, because they really do know what they need. When I just shut up long enough to actually hear them, they tell me exactly what they need. Every time. Through all the whining, and the sniping, and the bickering, and the laughing, and the hugging, and the joking, they tell me this: that they need to love and be loved, and that's all that matters.

Lesson 9. My kids have taught me everything I need to know. What matters, and what doesn't. What the meaning of life is, and what it isn't. Why we need to save the planet. How far the sound of a chocolate bar being unwrapped travels. Most important, what love is.

Lesson 10. Attachment parenting was the best thing I could ever have done, because - even though I may not know a thing and probably never will - I do know my kids and they know me. Keeping them close and holding them dear, even beyond early childhood and toward the teen years, has returned my sanity (you know, the sanity I lost when they were little and the sanity I would surely be losing again as I see teen years looming ahead). When I see my un-AP friends with their pre-teens fighting those battles of independence, losing their kids to the pressures of peers, and wondering who in the heck they share a house with ... well, I'm infinitely grateful that I had kids who forced me to be attached. Even if they do hang around all the time.

This post is part of the Attachment Parenting Month blog carnival, hosted by Attachment Parenting International. Learn more about how you can stay “Attached at the Heart Through the Years” by visiting API Speaks, the blog of Attachment Parenting International.


  1. Love it, Camille (I really need to come up with something more original to say in my comment, huh?)! #6 totally had me laughing out loud! And re: the sound of a choc bar being unwrapped. When Eliza was, like 15 months old, I had a small piece of choc in my mouth while strapped her into her carseat. Very small. She must have SMELLED it because she went into red alert and said, "What's in your mouth, Mama?????"

  2. For us it is the sound that a potato chip makes when crunched. Kavya has a radar that can hear it across the house. I am also going to echo Hannah's original kudos, that I loved this post! The last line is classic - gotta remember that. That when they are always hanging around driving us nuts, we need to be thankful, and enjoy it as it may not last forever.

  3. The comment about "knocking the smugness off" really warmed my heart.

  4. I really enjoyed this post. I've learned to strategically change the location of my chocolate stash at frequent intervals. Hey, a girl's got to do what a girl's got to do.