So you’ve found Mr. or Mrs. Right. The questions from your parents will start approximately 15 to 20 minutes after you get home from your honeymoon. “When are you two going to make us a Grandma and Grandpa?” This is a question that will continue to be strategically placed in all future conversations until the baby gets slapped on the butt in the delivery room.
So, let’s say you two have decided to bring a child into the population. This will be the life-changing event you’ve always dreamed of. Now whether you have dreamed that this will be a happy dream or a nightmare is another story. Make sure it’s a happy dream; it’s the only way to go, trust me. Parenting is about love, support, protection, and stepping on Lego blocks left at the foot of your bed in the middle of the night. It’s also about censoring yourself when you want to swear…which is exactly what happens when you step on the Lego blocks.
Just to let you know in case you’re new to my column, my wife (The voluptuous Eileen) and I have 4 children. They’re not children anymore though. My oldest, Catie is 19, John is 16, Casey is 14 and Dana is 11. Two boys and two girls. The girls are on each end so they can’t fight about who stole who’s sweater or belt or purse or WHATEVER DAD. OMG! STOP TALKING ABOUT US!!! Sorry. They pushed me off the computer and took over. I got it back now.
Everything I’ve learned about parenting over the last 20 years can be summed up by hitting my favorite button on the Microsoft Word toolbar…Bullet points. So here we go!
- Take a lot of Videos and Pictures. It is a great bribery tool when they bring their first date over to meet you. You know you’ll have great videos of them picking their nose, or cutting their own hair, or running around the house with cowboy boots and a diaper on to make sure they stay in line.
- Babies cry. Sometimes for no reason. Don’t lose your mind, just deal with it. Pacifiers for everyone!!!
- You have a tough job. You work five days a week, 8-10 hours a day. You think that’s a rough existence, try being a stay-at-home mom for a while and you’ll be ecstatic when you go back to work. Don’t be the amazing invisible dad. Get in there and help. You’ll have more fun than you’d ever believe.
- Respect your wife or husband. Don’t fight in front of the kids. Take it outside. (Sounds like my old bouncer days) They don’t need to hear it. To them, Mom and Dad are perfect. Don’t screw up the fantasy until they’re old enough to understand that everything isn’t always as perfect as an Air Supply song. (I think I’m gonna hurl!)
- Hold your kids when they are little. When they get big, you’ll miss it more than you would ever believe.
- Go to their games, recitals, spelling bees (I still feel like an idiot at the spelling bee) and all the other stuff. When a child looks out in a crowd and sees his or her parents cheering them on, the smile they put out will light up the world.
- Believe what your children tell you until they give you a reason not to. When they lie, all bets are off. Don’t let them forget that being honest is the best of the life skills.
- Don’t take your anger out on your family. Hate your job, your boss, your life? Do something about it. Don’t take it out on them. They think you’re the greatest thing ever, and you can screw it up really quick with some misplaced anger. This goes for both of you. I’ve seen some pretty mean moms in this town. Mean enough to make me go stand in the corner for a time out and I don’t even know them.
- Every night, no matter where you are or what you’re doing, kiss your kid’s goodnight and tell them that you love them. Setting a good example can go on for generations.
You never know how much time you have on this earth. When you check out, will you leave a bunch of loving kids who never doubted that you loved them or will you and the priest be the only ones at your funeral? You decide.