Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Cinco de M

Dear Little M,

You are 5 years old.

Holy shit!  You are 5 years old.  How did this happen????

As a parent, you hear the expression "you blink and they grow up" about a million times.  Cliche as it is, this statement is undoubtedly true.  Don't get me wrong---the first year of your life seemed to take for-freaking-ever as I learned what the hell I was doing on limited amounts of sleep and changed about a kazillion diapers and doubted myself at a rate of once every 2.4 seconds---but the four years that followed seemed to go by in a flash.  Mind if we slow this process down a bit?

Here's the funny thing about being a parent.  Everyone tells you about how much work parenthood is---and it's true, or at least it's not untrue--but no one really mentions how much fun it is.  That's right.  FUN.  It is FUN to be your mom.  It is FUN to see things through your eyes.  It is FUN to hear the completely outrageous things you say and it is FUN to see the chaos that you are capable of creating.  I wouldn't say it was necessarily fun to clean up the poop birthday cake you made for me when you were two years old, but it was hilarious to hear your logic and to hear you tell the story with such passion.   It wasn't necessarily fun to scour the entire downstairs and to scrub the sofa after you painted your entire body (including your hair) in greek yogurt because you wanted to see how it felt to look like a ghost, but....wait.  That was actually fun.  You're creative.  You're entitled to make a few messes. What's more- life is messy.  Laugh at it, clean it up, tell the story and move on.   Being a killjoy doesn't make you more credible.  Remember that part.  It's pretty important.

It is quite possible that I'm having more fun than you are and I'm definitely enjoying my second chance at childhood more than I enjoyed my first.  I have no complaints about my first crack at it, either.  It's a do-over with the wisdom of experience--plus, no one can ground me anymore and I'm allowed to use curse words without consequence.  WIN!

I catch some flak from time to time about my "questionable judgment", outright "poor judgment" and "irreverence"when it comes to raising you, particularly when we are having fun or when I choose to have a sense of humor about what life brings our way.  Those words sting, and I am trying to see the constructive parts of those types of criticism.  I occasionally succeed (and other times, I employ a little technique I call "creative profanity" in my own head).   I have to believe that those people who call me out on this only have your best interests at heart, and that's an extraordinarily good thing.  You need good people advocating on your behalf, and I'm glad that you have them.

(**Let's also get it straight that when I hear these types of comments, it's usually because I let you make a catastrophic mess that will require a solid hour in the tub to scrape the crust out of your ears, hair and nostrils.  It's not like I gave you a crack pipe, a lighter and a Ginzu knife.  Jeeeez.  Priorities. )

But this isn't about them, sweet M.  This is about you.  At the end of the day, I don't care if every single adult person I know thinks that I am not taking parenthood seriously enough.  I do, however, care quite profoundly that you think that you have a good mom.  It's an audience-of-one kind of deal for me, and I think that you and I are square on this.  We both know that I take nothing more seriously than you and what I need to be doing so that you grow up to be an adult of character and of substance.   So long as you know it, I'm good.  Better than good, actually.

Some of my favorite times are our "woman-to-woman" discussions on the stairs where I dispense those tiny nuggets of life wisdom that may serve you well somewhere down the line.   I usually leave the heavy lifting of life's profundity for spiritual gurus like Pink, Katy Perry and Taylor Swift (never underestimate the power of pop music lyrics!), but I've had a few gems of my own.  If you remember nothing else I've ever done or said, I hope you remember these little nuggets:

1.  If a boy can't be bothered to wear shirts with sleeves, you can't be bothered with him.
2.  If a boy makes you walk on the street side of a sidewalk, you kick him to the curb.
3.  If someone in your company is rude to a waiter/waitress or doesn't say "bless you" when you sneeze, you don't walk away.  You run.
4.  You can tell everything you need to know about a person's character by how they react when their luggage is lost, their flight is unexpectedly cancelled or they receive the wrong dinner in a restaurant.
5.  In the long run, manners and respect get you further than tantrums ever will.
6.  Until you can consistently wipe your own ass, complete world domination is slightly out of reach.
7.  There is nothing more fun than dredging your hands through your birthday cake with your very best friend.  Mischief+good company=lifelong memories.
8.  Choose your friends wisely.  Spend your time with girls and boys of quality.  I know you know what that means.  Forget quantity.  Forget good-time friends. You may notice that your Aunt M just started cleaning up our house that was destroyed by 40 little people without being asked.  That's a real friend.
9.  Drama is something you watch on TV and not something you live.  It most certainly isn't something you start.
10.  Find something you love .  Do it sincerely and to the best of your ability. Raise the bar on yourself. Hold yourself accountable and find someone else to hold you accountable.  This is the path to success.

This is useful stuff, little girl.  It may not be profound, but it's certainly useful.

Happy birthday to my go-with-the-flow, sassy, effervescent little sprout.  I love that we are growing up together...

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