Just when you figure how how to be a good parent, the kids grow up and move away. There is no chance to do it over. You can only hope that they don't write a tell-all book about their horrid childhood.
Every other vocation requires education, study, and aptitude. With a baby, it's on the job training with no salary, 24 hours a day, and you're under pressure to be Parent of the Year. In reality, you look at the tiny bundle and mutter, "What do I do now?"
In past generations, young families were surrounded by grandparents and extended family members who could help. But with a mobile society and jobs in various locations, young couples often don't live near their parents. Grandma can't pop over to babysit or demonstrate how to swaddle or provide encouragement for breastfeeding. The best alternative is to find groups of other novice parents and share tips, childcare, and wine, if necessary.
After raising two marvelous children, I can look back and realize what I did right and wrong. The best advice I can give is to pick your battles. Once my three-year-old daughter threw a major tantrum because she wanted to sleep in her party dress while I tried to cajole her into her pajamas. In hindsight, I was the silly one. It would have saved a lot of drama if I had agreed and tucked her in bed, frilly outfit and all.
I'm fortunate to live near my grown children and their families, and I'm in awe of their amazing parenting skills. My daughter's first daughter is spunky and creative, just like her mother. I predict some interesting times in the near future. My son dotes on his baby girl, and it's fun to watch them together. I would allow her to sleep in a party dress any time she wants.
It sounds like a cliche, but kids do grow up too fast. Another amazing reality is that now we're all about the same age. I couldn't possibly be old enough to have grandchildren.
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