Growing up, I always imagined my life as a parent being just like Samantha’s from Bewitched. (I know I am really dating myself here; many of you reading this probably don’t even know who I am talking about.) So let me set the stage.
The camera zooms in on beautifully dressed Samantha, gliding across the wall-to-wall carpeted floor with her also beautifully dressed young daughter, Tabatha, in her arms. She eagerly greets her husband at the end of his tiring day. A piping hot dinner served on fine China awaits him in the formal dining room. Sweet, compliant Tabatha somehow magically disappears from the scene, apparently having toddled off to bed on her own, leaving her parents to chat and enjoy their meal undisturbed.
The birth of my first child shattered this illusion of effortless parenting. There were many times when I wore the same clothes for days, couldn’t find time to shower regularly and I even showed up at my first postpartum visit to the doctor with my shirt inside out! This was not exactly “Samantha-esque.” Once I frightened the paper boy by answering the door with my shirt stained from leaking breasts.
As I longed for that perfectly clean home (like Samantha’s), free of germs, and dirty laundry, I watched my daughter slap spaghetti onto my newly cleaned floor and wondered if she was trying to drive me crazy.
To add insult to injury, a friend told me that what my 14 month old angel was doing was actually normal! She suggested that if I embraced and encouraged my daughter’s attempts to develop her skills (like playing with her spaghetti) I would be a happier mom. She even had the nerve to tell me that to build a healthy relationship with my child I needed to:
- Always be strong, wise and kind-no matter what
- Whenever possible, follow my child’s need
- Whenever necessary, take charge
I went on to have three daughters and now, twenty three years later I have realized my dream. Two of my girls are away at university and my third daughter will leave home this September. The wall-to-wall carpeting, stained from years of practicing developmental skills with my children, has been replaced with hardwood floors. The laundry is manageable, the beds are made, the house is clean. But now the rooms are empty and the house is all too quiet. How wise my friend was. Embrace the chaos. It really is the best time of your life.
Share your experience:
For more tips and hints about school and anything else related to parenting, there are many ways you can talk to one of us directly: