Having done it three times, I feel pretty solid in my ability to parent a baby or toddler. It's the bigger kids that have me stumped.

I recently wrote an article about a "mother's intuition," or the belief that there's some inner compass guiding our decisions as mothers. I certainly don't think I have some biological predisposition for motherhood beyond parts that can make babies (and I am very grateful for them). On the other hand, I really felt strongly that some things were "right" for my babies, and even my toddlers: breastfeeding on demand, co-sleeping, feeding them what I eat (mashed-up, of course).

(Also, please note that when I say "right," I mean for me. Not you. I don't know what's right for you because I'm not you. Seems obvious, but if you've ever read discussion threads on hot parenting topics, you'll know this is not common knowledge for some people.)

Anyway I feel pretty good about those things, or at least my ability to assess and respond to my baby's needs. Or maybe that's because it's relatively simple to respond to a baby's needs: nurse, cuddle, change, play. Repeat.

It's not easy, that's for damn sure. But it's relatively simple, right?

You know what's not simple?

Or maybe I'm just comparing the baby experience to the experience of having, say, a tween. Not simple. Not easy. In fact, for me, it's totally and utterly baffling.

I keep waiting for the perfect response to hop into my mind when my 11-year-old daughter gives me her never-been-seen-before attitude.

I keep waiting for the perfect response to hop into my mind when my 11-year-old daughter gives me her never-been-seen-before attitude. Her death glare. Her furrowed brow framing eyes asking one question and one question only, "No really, Mom, what is wrong with you?"

But it isn't just the tween. There's also my boy, who will be eight in September. He tends to forget tasks about 27 seconds after I ask him. You know, like I say, "Hey Rocket, please go put these socks in you top drawer," and he's like "OK." And then he walks down the hall with the socks as if he's going to complete this complex job… but maybe he sees something on the ground that captures his fascination… you know, like a rock. Or a rubber band. Or a Lego man.

He does this all the time. Like every day. (Don't tell me he has whatever attention disorder you think he has. Are you a doctor? No? OK, thanks, bye.)

Yeah, yeah I know I could read parenting books and helpful blogs and blah, blah, blah, but I hate that stuff. I realize there's a chance it might work, but first I'd have to be capable of changing my behavior for an extended period of time. I'm kidding. Sort of.

I would also have to take the time to read it all, and usually I can't get past the first paragraph before my head says, 'No way this is going to work! They don't know my kid!'

I would also have to take the time to read it all, and usually I can't get past the first paragraph before my head says, "No way this is going to work! They don't know my kid!" Why would I trust some stranger to tell me how to work with my kid? Some "expert" who's never met the child about whom they're [allegedly] an "expert?"

Huh?

Sometimes I feel stuck

On the other hand, sometimes I feel like I'm stuck in a rut with my kids and I don't know how to get out. Like it's a routine: Kid does A, Mom does B, Kid says A, Mom yells. (Well, I don't always yell.) But nothing ever actually changes. Usually when this happens, I hang out for a few weeks (or months? Ugh.) until I can't take it anymore. Then I decide to "change" or "try something new."

I get all crazy and determined to "make things happen!" and "Get this family in gear!"

This lasts for approximately three days. Maybe a week, if I'm lucky.

We're all just doing the best we can with what we've got, I guess, and hoping in the end it's enough.

Then we're all usually back to the same old stuff.

Oh well.

Some people have grown-ups for parents. Other people have me.

We're all just doing the best we can with what we've got, I guess, and hoping in the end it's enough. My kids seem to be turning out pretty well, despite my lack of inner compass.

So that, at least, is pretty darn encouraging.

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