(As featured at Sammiches & Psych Meds)

So, one biggie rule in writing is cut the clichés. Like all of ‘em. Any attempt to use a hackneyed phrase results in a perturbed voice from the writers galaxy uttering, “Oh, hell no.”

One biggie rule in parenting is, well, I have no idea.

Thing is, the rules of parenting are clothed in triple trite cotton. It’s evident the mothering outfits I don come from a large wardrobe of universal truism me-downs.

And if an instruction manual for momin’ it does exist; I guarantee the thing is rank with commonplace conjecturing. So, how about for number twos and giggles we toss aside conventional wisdom and take a stab at expressing the colorful side of parenting in various stages of development through coined expression.

Pregnancy

Ah, to be young and foolish as far as the eye can see. Which is typically not past the nose on our face—definitely not beyond the bun in our oven. Our smallish tummy is here today and gone tomorrow before we realize after nine months that having our cake and eating it too is a ca ca meme scheme. Although the binging leaves us all bent out of shape, hope springs eternal. We live and learn the self-control chain is only as strong as its weakest link.

days are long clicheNewborn

As first time moms we don’t have a clue about what happens after we get a leg up in the maternity ward. Having a baby costs an arm and a leg getting stuck in delivery, but we will grin and bear it, heaven help us.

A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step we take from the hospital wheelchair to our home-bound minivan. Our days commence at the crack of dawn, which over time causes our eyes to cast a very long shadow. Early late to bed early to rise leaves us looking for an ax to grind.

Colic can leave us at our wits end and/or the end of our rope. But moms are gifted with nerves of steel, so we go through the motions knowing good things come to those who wait.

Infant

This stage really gets us a foot in the door on the ground floor. Might as well make ourselves snug as a bug in the rug where we will spend most of our time engaging with our child. Even though we learn every day is a bad hair day, just call us Miss America because we are as beautiful as the day is long.

If we’re smart, we will stop and smell the roses when we can because as soon as we introduce liquid solids, diapers start smelling like stink on sh&%(#t. Airing out dirty laundry leaves us bored to tears, but we drink the Kool-Aid of it’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon.

Toddler

Beware the Ides of March. The handwriting is on the wall; literally. We find ourselves flying by the seat of our pants during these years with a perpetual deer in the headlights expression. When people ask if this stage is challenging the oft response is, “Does a deer shitake in the woods?” If our tantruming two could only keep his pampers from getting in a wad the crocodile tears would cease.

Tiny tots usually end up with egg on their face, after breakfast. Who’s kidding who, every meal ends in a mess and we are constantly reminding our wobbling weeble not to bite the hand that feeds you. So the mealtime experience? Basically it’s a wash.

Bedtime typically wraps up each bull in a china shop day in a nice little bow. As long as we remember it’s all over but the crying.

Grade School

Kids this age go through their days with a hop, skip, and a jump. We learn boys will be boys and never to take a kid in a Liam Neeson cliche quotecandy store.

Friends ask us why little Johnny has a bug up his arse. These friends clearly don’t have kids for otherwise they would know Johnny has a butt bug because he was sitting in the dirt, buck naked, after taking his pants off to pee on a bush. Duh.

Our child hangs on every word while learning to read and has never met a doughnut she didn’t like, just ask Dunkin. We can typically bribe our grade school kids with reverse psychology, the advertising world’s version of bait and switch.

Middle School/Tween

These years are such an Achilles heel. Honestly, a torn achilles would feel better than the drama delirium. We have a profound opportunity to experience the age-old adage, actions speak louder than words. As in, door slamming, eye rolling, voice changing, cold shouldering. And that’s just the parents.

But, we are thankful to get our feet wet, ducks in a row, head in the game before all hell breaks loose in the teenage phase. These high maintenance creatures don’t hold the phone nearly as often as they will in high school when it attaches permanently to their palm. Basically, tweendom is the starting line of puberty being all dressed up with nowhere to go.

Teenager

History repeats itself and we stuff our bellies eating crow specially prepared and delivered on a silver platter by our own mother. We would lose our heads if they weren’t attached because so many irritations are under our skin. Our kids’ mantra becomes, ask me no questions and I’ll tell you no lies. As if! Do they think we were born yesterday? They forget we have eyes in the back of our head and hindsight’s 20/20.

parenting clichesHeavens to Betsy, these kids don’t have both oars in the water. And it’s not because teens have lost their marbles. The long and short of it is their brains aren’t playing with a full deck. Ask a psychiatrist and he will explain teens literally have underdeveloped frontal lobes. Translation: They are unable to reason or comprehend the consequences of their actions. There’s a none percent chance of a teen understanding what it means to look before you leap.

We constantly bite our tongue as we peer into angry at the world faces only a mother can love. A house divided against itself cannot stand so if circumstances are extreme, we take doors off. When our kid asks why, our ace in the hole is always, “Because I said so.”

If we thought understanding pre-teen parenting was water water everywhere, and not a drop to drink, this phase is Baptism by fire. Although we live with a human who believes he is a legend in his own mind, we survive.  Slow and steady wins the race.

Empty Nest

Our kids go out in a blaze of glory and we find ourselves back at square one with a new lease on life which feels like highway robbery. The absence of our offspring is hard to swallow; a bird in the nest is worth two in the world.

We begin wishing we hadn’t longed to see light at the end of the tunnel. Because finding ourselves without a row to hoe reminds us how many times we made mountains out of mole hills along the way.  The only thing we really had to fear was fear itself.

Now all we have left are Kodak moments worth their weight in gold; a thousand words. Our role is to take a back seat and thank our lucky stars we were blessed with the incredible gift of children. Kids we were able to love to the moon and back.

Families may not have it all together, but together they have it all.

 

Keep on keeping on, crazy Mommas!

Shel Spear

 

 

 

 

Shelby is a Christian mom to three beautiful knuckleheads who have left her with an empty nest in which to ponder what the mom thing has (done to her) meant over the past twenty-three years. On her blog she shares with readers an open book of revelations, screw-ups, gaffs, and joys. Shelby is currently working on her first book.