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My View: Parenting requires lots of love, laughter

By Mary Clista Dahl

I’m at the stage of my life when I could potentially become a grandparent to actual children. For now I’m content to be the proud Grandma of two beautiful granddogs.

It is through my friends and family that I’m also enjoying the process of reliving fond memories of raising little humans and reminiscing about how much I cherish that mother role.

I know better than to offer specific advice to new moms and dads unless it’s asked for, content to sit on the sidelines watching the interactions and open to providing a cuddling lap if needed.

But I do offer this message to all new parents. From birth all the way through adulthood, there are both joys and challenges at every stage. Weather the challenges, hold onto the joys and the challenges will disappear quickly.

Parenting is tricky. If anyone tells you he or she is an authority, know that you are being told  only half the truth. This includes pediatricians, psychologists, behavioral experts and other parents. Most are well intended or educated, but really, they’re there for support and to hear you vent.

Nobody really knows what he or she is doing, even the ones who have children and seem the most confident, because every day with children brings a new guessing game. Even parents who have a dozen kids can’t claim to be experts, because out of those dozen, none are alike or predictable. That’s the beauty and excitement of it.

It is widely accepted in the Abrahamic religions that Adam and Eve were punished for eating the apple by being cast from the Garden of Eden and losing immortality.

What is not documented is that the penance they received was parenthood. Think about it. Having never had parents themselves and never seeing a child before, they had no clue how to be parents. This lack of knowledge has been passed down through generations ever since.

So when you feel like you’re groping in the dark, grasping at straws or otherwise experiencing cluelessness when it comes to child-rearing, it’s perfectly natural. Don’t lose heart. Hold steadfast to your sense of humor and enjoy the ride.

If you do consider entering the institution of parenthood, you should do so with a great deal of courage and thick skin.

Your children will do things, like point to your midsection and inquire how you got “the bubble.” Or tell you that your face smells like vinegar, or that you can’t accomplish something because you are too old. They’ll pull down the Christmas tree for no good reason.

And every day, fill in the blank of this sentence with something new: “Now what in the world would possess junior to ____.”

Meanwhile, you’re destined from this point on to be subjected to cleaning up bodily fluids and keeping a straight face while you watch your child make the same mistakes over and over.

The nice thing is, as long as you have the ability to love and laugh, you can never get it wrong.

Take it from me, whose kids are both over 20 now. Once you’re part of this institution, you’re committed. And I have the padded room with engraved brass nameplate to prove it.

I’m proud to have brought my kids to adulthood by executing all of my rules without having to execute them. And they both know there were times when the courts would have forgiven me.

Mary Clista Dahl, of East Amherst, is a writer, author and founder of Capture Life Writing.
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