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I Didn't Know You Could Make Birthday Cake... by @DorothyRosby is a Celebrate Mothers pick #mothers
Title: I Didn't Know You Could Make Birthday Cake from Scratch: Parenting Blunders from Cradle to Empty Nest
Author: Dorothy Rosby
Genre: Humorous Essays
The book for every parent who ever stuck a candle in a peanut butter sandwich and called it a birthday cake. Or ever tried to crowdfund her child’s braces. Or ever told her child to be quiet so she could finish reading a parenting magazine.
If you’re an Imperfect Parent—as I am—you’ve had two conflicting thoughts running through your head since the earliest stages of your children’s lives:
1) No one can care for my children better than I can, and
2) I have no idea what I’m doing.
The latter is reinforced daily by other parents telling amazing stories of their “wonder children,” some of which may even be true. The former is not reinforced at all.
As an Imperfect Parent you certainly don’t need anyone else casting doubt about your parenting skills; that’s your children’s job. But the damage is soon done. You begin to compare yourself to other parents and your children to their children. You begin to question your every parenting decision. You become jealous, anxious and mean. In short, you become the kind of person you never want your children to be…or see.
An acquaintance tells you her first grader jumps out of bed, gets dressed, makes her bed and runs into the kitchen to get her own breakfast, all without being told. You ask sarcastically why her 18-year-old is still in first grade—and why she’s running in the house. Secretly you wish your 15-year-old would do so well.
Your friend tells you her daughter eats a variety of foods including fruits, vegetables, whole grains and dairy. You agree that, yes, your son also eats a wide variety of foods: seven different kinds of cereal and any type of doughnut.
Every day your neighbor’s son dresses nicely in khaki pants and a button down shirt. Meanwhile, your daughter had to ransack the dirty clothes this morning to find something to wear. The item with the least visible grime was a pair of leggings with a hole in one knee.
Another neighbor tells you she has banned television from her home and her children are incredibly self-reliant and creative because of it. You reassure yourself that your children don’t watch that much television either; they’re too busy playing video games.
Your friend sews Halloween costumes for her children. She creates homemade Christmas ornaments with them. And she throws elaborate birthday parties for them. You can barely sew on a button. The only Christmas ornaments you have are the ones your kids haven’t broken yet. And the last birthday party you hosted involved a store-bought cake, no party favors and a broken arm.
Another parent tells you about the relaxing weekend her family had. If pressed, you’d have to say your family life is a little like a zoo with the lions loose: a lot of running around and screaming going on.
And worst of all, you can’t help but feel like it’s all your fault.
Remember, things aren’t always what they seem. Nod smugly as other parents carry on about their child’s many talents and accomplishments and think to yourself, “You’re embezzling from the Little League, aren’t you?”
And remind yourself that the age at which your children are potty-trained does not correlate with how many soccer goals they’ll make some day. And how many soccer goals they make will not relate in any way to the GPA they’ll earn in college. And their GPA will have nothing to do with how often they’ll visit you in your old age. And isn’t that what you’re after anyway?
This book is for all you Imperfect Parents out there, all you mothers and fathers who feel you’re never good enough. You’re not alone. You’re better than you know and better than your children will tell you—until they grow up and have kids of their own.
Picking the Bathroom Lock and Other Lessons of Motherhood
You can put a child to bed, but you can’t make him sleep; you can set food before him, but you can’t make him eat; and you can lead him to the potty, but you can’t make him go.
As we near Mother’s Day, I can’t help but ponder these and other bits of wisdom I’ve gained since I became a mom. Perhaps my sharing them will benefit other new parents—but probably not. Still, here goes:
I’ve learned that items which have survived countless moves, violent acts of nature and even burglaries can be shattered in seconds at the hands of a toddler. And I’ve learned that young children will never use crayons on the furniture again—once they’ve tried permanent markers.
I’ve learned that toddlers can watch the same movie 700 times and never tire of it. (What do they think? It’s going to end differently?) And I’ve learned it doesn’t matter that they can’t read; they still know when you’re leaving out parts of the story.
Since I became a mom, I’ve acquired some new skills too. I can now do with one hand everything I once did with two. I can make up a bedtime story. I can clean up almost anything without gagging. And I can pick the lock on our bathroom door.
I’ve learned to be more patient. My record is answering 41 “why questions” before screaming, “Because I said so, that’s why!”
And I think I’m more flexible too. It doesn’t matter how late I am; if my son just threw up, I deal with it.
I’ve learned to lower my expectations about pretty much everything, including the way I dress, the way my house looks and the food I eat. I’ve learned to eat hot dogs—and not just at the ballpark. I can now step over rubbish on the floor without so much as a glance back. And I’ve gone to work with my stretch pants on backwards. There was a time I wouldn’t even wear stretch pants, let alone backwards…
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Dorothy Rosby is a humor columnist whose work appears regularly in publications in the West and Midwest. She’s also the author of three humor collections: I Used to Think I Was Not That Bad and Then I Got to Know Me Better; Alexa’s a Spy and Other Things to Be Ticked off About and I Didn’t Know You Could Make Birthday Cake from Scratch. She lives in the Black Hills of South Dakota, 20 miles from Mount Rushmore, something she’s very proud of though she’s not on it…yet.
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