Today I officially have a teenager. I know what you’re thinking – OMG YOU LOOK AMAZING FOR SOMEONE WITH A 13 YEAR OLD!!! I totally agree. But holy shit, she’s thirteen!
I’ll be honest, I’ve never kept anything alive this long. This is my personal best. *self high five* I’d like to take a moment to thank my friends for talking me through countless near-jail experiences in the passed 13 years. Also, the Twitterverse for allowing me to bitch about my child openly. To Mike, for helping make me a parent and being my partner in this, the most challenging job I’ve ever had.
And most of all – Soph. For letting me be her mom. For forgiving me when I fuck up – and I totally do. For being self sufficient when I can’t be 200% Mom or when I just want to sleep in. For loving me and all my flaws – a never ending list. And for just being her – my reason for existing, getting up every morning, my ultimate motivation for the things I do, everyday.
It’s been a whole baker’s dozen years of parenting and I’ve learned a lot.
- Parenting is the hardest job in the history of jobs. Period. It can also be the most rewarding.
- There is no book that will walk you through. [Though the Dr. Sears The Baby Book is a DAMN GOOD reference for new parents. And a lot of the others in his series. Just my opinion.]
- There is no love stronger than what a parent feels for their child.
- Every child is different. What worked for Timmy might not work for Sally.
- It’s totally okay to have favorites. I do. 🙂
- Common sense is no longer common.
- Pass something down from generation to generation.
- There are fewer things more irritating than people telling you how to parent your child. *ahem* MOM!
- Keep family traditions and start new ones.
- Disciplining your child will evolve as your child grows. Time out is effective when they are 3, where as no cell phone is more effective when they are 13.
- Help educate your child. It’s not all on the teachers of the world. Teach them about music, talk to them about events happening in the world so they get the facts from you not kids on the bus. Talk to them about hate, racism, sexism, all of it…so they aren’t naive but educated.
- Children learn from watching you. How to love, how to hate, how to be thankful and appreciate.
- Tell your children where they came from. Teach them their culture and history.
- Be honest with your kids. Age appropriate honesty, of course.
- Have them learn the ACTUAL names for their parts, not foo foo names.
- Help them find an outlet to express themselves.
- Make sure they understand kindness, generosity and forgiveness. And practice it.
- It’s okay if they hate you. It doesn’t feel good but it’s okay and it will pass.
- When things get heated – no matter the age – walk away to cool down. At some point screaming is no longer constructive. Otherwise shit is said out of anger, high emotions, etc. And if they need to walk away to get it together – let them.
- Set realistic expectations and goals for and with your children. You want to see them succeed and not fail at something they never had a chance at to begin with.
- Growing up can be hard. Let them know you are a safe place to talk about scary things like girls/boys, peer pressure, etc.
- Let them dress themselves. Don’t let them leave looking like a bum or someone who works a corner. But let them find their style.
- Be authentic in your parent/child relationship. Don’t act one way in public and then another behind closed doors.
- Teach them to be better than you.
- Don’t push your kid in any one direction – sports, academics, etc. Provide them guidance but don’t force them into something.
- Learn to say no. And MEAN IT.
My two goals as a mother are to ensure my kid is happy and healthy and that she’s a kind, well rounded and productive human being in society. Soph is already the greatest thing I’ve ever done in my life so if I succeed at those goals, it will just be icing on the cake.
Happy 13th Birthday, kiddo.