As my children get older, more and more, I rely on those bits of parenting wisdom my mom unknowingly doled out while she faced new challenges with her own children.
Once when my little brother was a toddler, a friend of my mother's was visiting. At one point in their conversation, her friend commented that when she has children, "they will be potty trained by the time they are two! I will NEVER allow diapers past 18 months old."
Even as a nine-year old, I could tell what this lady said was mean. I couldn't understand why my mom didn't say, "YOU don't have kids, so until you do, shut it!" In fact, it wasn't until her friend was pulling out of the driveway, that mom looked at me and my little sister and said, "Don't ever say 'my kids will NEVER do this or that or the other thing.' IF you do, this or that or the other thing, WILL HAPPEN!"
Skip to present day. I've gained at least 15 pounds and developed an allergy to certain raw vegetables from eating so many words in regards to things I said my kids would never do.
The positive side of this is this has made me much more empathetic to parents. Especially parents of teenagers.
A few days ago, while talking to a friend about her teenager, we compared notes.
"He thinks we're stupid."
"It's not that I don't trust his friends. Wait. That's exactly what it is. But to be fair, we don't trust teenagers PERIOD."
"Never thought I'd say this but, I miss 3 a.m. feedings and sore nipples."
"Since he's started driving, we worry until he's home from work or practice or school."
"I'm glad it's not just me."
This is the positive side. Parents of teenagers form an alliance to keep each other sane. When your 16 year old gets home 10 minutes past curfew, those friends understand the fear you felt until his headlights were visible. Those friends remind you that this time in life, while sometimes overwhelming, is still 98 percent amazing.
As parents we trick ourselves into thinking that IF our kids do this or that or the other thing, they're doomed. Or worse, that we have somehow failed a test that determines whether or not our children have a successful future.
My own teenager has managed to test the limits of my patience and sanity. A perfect life isn't necessarily raising toddlers that are potty trained at 12 months old, three year olds with fluency in four languages, 2nd graders who never complain about homework, 7th graders that never talk back, teenagers who don't complain (Yes, they all do!), or college-aged kids that never do the things parents wish they didn't know about. Perfect doesn't exist, and aiming for it is dangerous-to you, your waistline and your family.
Moral of the story? I have no idea. I just know that chocolate of any form helps calm your nerves when curfew is approaching.