Do you remember the “…for Dummies” book series? You could (and still can) buy one of those signature yellow and black books to learn how to do just about anything you could think of. Want to learn a foreign language or how to fix your car or how to play a sport… pick up a book and read away. They even have a book called “Parenting for Dummies.” While I haven’t read it thoroughly, what I skimmed over reminded me that there is, in fact, NO real manual for parenting and NO guide for motherhood. If there was, I imagine it would be the next most popular bestselling book along with the Bible.
Moms we can all agree that doing what we do is no easy feat and there is no book that tells you what page number to turn to when your kid says something foolish or where to look for tips to handling the stress that comes with making big mom decisions. In the days following Mother’s Day I thought more about this and came up with a few ideas for chapters that I think a good Mommy Manual may contain…Around the Way Mom style!
Chapter Idea 1- Saying “No” is not a bad thing
We love the show Black-ish in our house and on episode 16 (from this season) entitled, “Things Were Different Then,” Bow decides to say yes to everything her kids ask her for instead of her usual no. Tuhuh! That idea didn’t take long to backfire, and Bow ended up hiding from Jack and Diane in an effort to not go along with what they wanted. The episode ended on a funny note with her rescinding her yes’s and the kids admitting to asking her to participate in ridiculous activities thinking she would say no.
Moral of the story- Please don’t say yes to everything your kids ask. Just like it is healthy and self-affirming for us to say no at times to prevent burn out and resentment, we should also utilize that practice with our kids. Think about how much better you can prepare your child for adulthood if you get them use to hearing no at times. No- you cannot stay up past bedtime to play. No- you may not eat chicken nuggets every day from the restaurant that has those addictive waffle fries. No- I will not allow you to talk to me as if I am one of your friends. No. No. And no.
Chapter Idea 2- Be ready to laugh
I like to laugh…loudly! There will be times when you and/or your kids do something that you just have to laugh about. Perfect example- During evening prayers one night, Tre was trying to think of a specific offense for which to ask forgiveness for. After a few seconds of intense thought, he lifted his head with a seriously confused face to say, “Do ya’ll have anything to ask for forgiveness for, because I can’t think of anything.” I held myself together for the rest of the prayer long enough to run out of the room and bust out laughing. That still cracks me up.
I’m not recommending that you laugh about serious matters, but I am, however recommending that you recognize the humor in some situations and do what you were created to do- Laugh! That is what creates those memories you will look back on and talk about during family dinners and holiday gatherings. The saying is definitely true- kids say the darndest [and funniest] things. Moral of the story for this chapter- don’t take yourself or motherhood so serious that you cannot see and enjoy the humor in some things.
Chapter Idea 3- Mommy time is important
The Around the Way Mom Manual would contain a few sections on this topic. Self-care and #mommaternalhealth is a popular topic for good reason. As a mom you need time away from everybody to be in your own thoughts…by yourself…with you and you alone. Do not feel bad for making (and keeping) a nail/hair/wax appointment. Enjoy time to roam the mall and window shop alone. Go see a movie. Savor a good meal and cocktail by yourself. Shoot- take a trip alone or with friends. This is important.
I felt the need to ‘run away’ recently and I think the hubs recognized that I was right on the edge of a mini tantrum. I sent Tre upstairs to get ready for bed and left for a Target run and a bite to eat. Even though it was later than I normally like to eat dinner, I needed to get out! My hope for you (and moral for the chapter here ) is that you are in tune with yourself enough to recognize when you need a break and that you take it. You will thank yourself later.
Chapter Idea 4- ‘People’ are going to talk about you!
This chapter would contain some advice about to handle what they are going to say about how you parent. Who are they? They are your friends, they are your co-workers, they are your loving family, they are anyone else but you! Think they don’t have an opinion about how you mother…think again. And, be prepared for them to share their thoughts with you when you don’t ask. Motherhood requires that we have a thick skin resilient enough to listen to what they say and still keep going.
Not everyone is going to share their opinions out of malice. I truly believe it comes from a place of love and concern. I can think of many times when they told me about something I did that they didn’t agree with and it started when I was pregnant and it hasn’t stopped. I’m not going to lie- there have been times when I’ve been caught off guard by their unsolicited opinions and it has sucker punched my mommy-esteem causing me to become defensive about some of my decisions. The moral here is to listen to them with an open mind, remind yourself that it is not malicious, ponder it over and make the final decision about what parts you’re going to keep. Remind yourself that it is your motherhood journey and your kid.
Chapter Idea 5- Be at peace with your decisions
Not everyone is going to agree with your decisions as a mom. Don’t let that stop you from moving forward with what you know to be the right decision for your child. We all have our inner circle we consult with, but it still will be your final decision and one that you will live with. This can be from choosing the right school for your son or figuring out the most appropriate consequence for your daughter’s misbehavior. Whatever it is, make your decision and be at peace with it. Be confident that you have been equipped with every tool you need to be the best mother possible, including self-confidence.
Having an assurance in who you are as a woman and mother is priceless and it cannot be measured. It comes with tests, trials and a whole lot of testimonies about how you made it to the point in motherhood where you are. My hope is that your confidence will continue to grow with each experience and each year you are on your journey of motherhood.
Thanks for reading a portion of what I think a practical Mommy Manual…Around the Way Mom style…might contain! –krystal