Why You’ll Become That Parent

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You know, the parent who annoys you before you have children…or before you have as many kids as they do. In your eyes, they get it all wrong.

How could they do that?

Why don’t they just do this?

I’ll never…

For myself, I can chase personal guilt back to an observation of “failed” discipline at a nice restaurant early in my first pregnancy. The scene was Silicon Valley, and the parents were older (a cultural norm in the Bay Area). They have no control, I remember thinking to myself. Their unwillingness to face the little giant in the high chair really got under my skin. Before you have children, you can really believe you have all the answers.

But if you are a parent long enough, a realization will stop you in your tracks. In my case, I had to accept an uncomfortable reality: my kids are their own people. They won’t always behave at dinner – no matter how much money or effort you expend.

And, in due time, I did that thing I said I never would.

I learned to let little things go.

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A View from the Bottom Bunk

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Don’t be afraid of what you don’t understand.

Easier said than done, of course, but this is my husband and I’s go-to advice for our three-year-old son when we know storms are imminent.

Two nights ago, however, we were no match for the incessant thunder and lightning.

At approximately 3:45 a.m. we awoke to my son’s tearful pleas: “Mommy! Daddy!” There was something different in my son’s voice this time – a blend of emerging maturity and raw fear. He sensed what was happening, yet couldn’t prevent himself from the human desire for certainty…and control.

I led my oldest child down the ladder as Mother Nature illuminated his small room with urgent pulses of white. The night’s antidote would be snuggles with Momma in the bottom bunk.

And, in that 10-minute embrace, shadows weren’t the only images that danced across his walls.

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A Portrait of Imperfection

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There is an unwritten rule in parenthood: Crisis doesn’t occur until Picture Day. Really. Ask any parent and they will tell you a story. This year, it seems, we could not escape the curse.

“Now don’t worry, but I want you to be aware…”

I dread when my husband prefaces a story involving our children in this way.

But before I could reply, I spotted it: a pink mountain of flesh had filled the entire space between my daughter’s eyes.

And this is how a mosquito sabotaged our little girl’s first school photo.

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Give Me Your Tired

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I was running late, which isn’t new, but I had never been so tardy to yoga. Twelve minutes had been forfeited, and I almost heard my body cry out in defeat when I settled into the mat.

Over the next 45 minutes, I really questioned my entire existence. My arms and legs were feeble, my concentration was muddled, and the outfit I had selected most certainly flashed the nearby maintenance worker during an inspired downward dog. Oops.

The truth is, I was unprepared for the consequences of being late. I’ve been doing yoga for years, but every session is unique, as is every teacher.

After I attempted my fourth new-to-me position, I felt my forehead hit the mat.

I’m tired of being an adult.

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Duel Realities

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It was the “I’m in pain” cry, and it stole my breath. As I bolted to my daughter on the other side of the house, I began blaming myself for the encounter.

Moments earlier, my son had spotted a poorly hidden toy that grandma had surprised him with months ago. Now there was pain, tears, and guilt.

Somewhere along the way, my life had turned into a game of Clue: It was my son…in the front bathroom…with the plastic purple pistol.

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The Baby Doll Effect

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You know you are the mother of a toddler when you have your first temper tantrum – that moment when you desperately want your child to do something, and they simply refuse.

Such was the scene in my son’s preschool earlier this week when each child was lovingly gifted a handmade pillow by the crafting ladies of the church. It was a beautiful gesture. Really.

Except my son didn’t want the pale blue pillow placed in his cubby. He wanted the vibrant floral one…with the obnoxious lace ruffle. His kind teachers allowed him to switch. And just when I thought I could let it go, I snapped.

I felt the need to justify his choice to every parent we encountered down the hall.

“Oh, yes, his sister will inherit this one!”

Clearly, something deep was happening. Why couldn’t I support my son’s decision?

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To Redshirt, or Not to Redshirt

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That is the question that emerges most often in conversations regarding my children’s education. They both have late July birthdays, and this means they will either be the oldest or the youngest in their classes.

To be honest, I was not familiar with the term until a few years ago. Thank you, Malcolm Gladwell. But, I’ll admit, the idea of sidelining our kids to further their academic, social, and personal growth sounds pretty wonderful.

But is it the right fit for our family?

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When Hovering Hurts

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Every time I cut a watermelon, I have to ask myself an important question: Are you a helicopter parent?

My mother said it all began with my great grandmother Martha. She loved to give us little ones sweet treats, but my favorite of all was the melon she so religiously extracted the seeds from. What I remember most is her selfless smile when summer’s juices ran down our chins.

But, here in the twenty-first century kitchen, I weld a sharp knife whose blade mirrors the painstaking care I take in eliminating challenge for my children: watermelon seeds.

Sometimes I can’t help but wonder: Do I have it all wrong?

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