A Final Bit of Advice
As we prepare to close our doors here at ABCDlady,
I’ve been taking many walks down memory lane. I started writing
for this magazine when my younger daughter was just born, and she is
now more than two years old. So much has happened in the past two years.
I have gone from being an overwhelmed, confused and panicked new mother
to being an overwhelmed yet confident mother who has come to terms with
the fact that she will never know everything. I have learned a lot about
myself in the process of writing for ABCDlady. This magazine has given
me a place to not only write, but also to vent, counsel and brainstorm.
In this final issue, I am bidding everyone a fond
farewell and offering some final words of advice.
Make some Mommy friends.
And do it quickly, especially if you decide to be a stay-at-home mom.
Those first few days and weeks of being a new mother are amazing, but
they can also be painfully isolating. Make some mommy friends quickly,
and you’ll soon be on your way to talking about diapers, car seats,
pacifiers, night time feedings and milestones with people who are as
interested in these topics as you are. Find new mother groups through
your local hospital or online through websites like www.meetup.com.
I joined a mother’s group and four years later, we are still going
strong. It was one of the best decisions I ever made.
Go with your gut.
I can’t say this enough. Go ahead and get advice from your friends
and your family (yes, even your mother), but be prepared to go with
what your gut tells you to do. You know your child best.
Give your children as many hugs and kisses as you possibly can every
day. And enjoy the rush of feeling them swoop into your open arms at
full speed—these moments will not last, so cherish them.
Talk. And then shut up.
When your child is a baby, talk as much as you can about the world around
you. Oooh, what a pretty pink flower! See that red truck? What a beautiful,
sunny day! But we get so used to talking and talking that we sometimes
forget to tone it down when they get older. I sometimes catch myself
giving a running commentary of everything I’m doing. How annoying
this must be for my daughters! Mama is getting the cereal, and now,
let me get the milk from the fridge, oops, better remember to close
the door, now, let me get a bowl and a spoon, and—oh for goodness
sake, shut up and give them their cereal! I constantly remind myself
to say only what’s needed once. It’s either that, or accept
the fact that at this rate, I’ll be the equivalent of white noise
by the time they’re teenagers.
Become comfortable saying, “I don’t
We live in a culture where it’s good to be the “go-to
guy.” But, come on, let’s get real. Since when did parents
have to have all the answers? My older daughter is only four, and I’ve
already given up this façade. Why don’t penguins’
feet freeze? I don’t know. Why does cutting onions make you cry?
No clue. Do fish fart? I have no idea. But here’s the thing. Make
sure you add the words, “Let’s find out!” after the
“I don’t know.” I actually know of a preschool teacher
who was asked by one of her students where trash goes when it is thrown
away. Her answer? “I don’t know, let’s find out!”
And off the class went, from the garbage truck to the dumpster to the
landfill to see how the garbage was compressed and/or recycled. I didn’t
go to the aquarium to investigate the gastronomical properties of fish,
but I did—with the help of my daughter—do some poking around
on the World Wide Web. (By the way, fish don’t fart, but, boy,
can they burp.)
Lead by example.
Start saying please, thank you and sorry. Say something good
about yourself every time you look in the mirror. And don’t let
your kids hear you gossip, especially about people they know. It will
come back to bite you in the butt.
Let your kids fail.
You heard me right. Don’t let them win at every game
of Candy Land. Call it like you see it, and teach them how to lose graciously.
While you’re at it, don’t turn everything they do into The
Next Best Thing Since Sliced Bread, either. Put them up on a pedestal
all the time, and they won’t know how to get back down to reality
where the rest of us live.
Be their advocate.
My sister told me this a few years back, and it has stuck with
me. From the moment your child is born, you must be his voice when he
can’t find his own. Don’t be shy. Be your child’s
advocate when he can’t speak up—no one else will be stepping
up to that plate. Women have a tendency to feel bad about being assertive
or speaking their minds too loudly. Push that tendency aside and say
what needs to be said. Your child will thank you. Maybe not today, but
Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.
I have a friend whose son has an aversion to the tags on the
back of his shirts, so she cuts them all off. She is now convinced that
he has a sensory integration disorder and is investing quite a bit of
time, money and energy—not to mention STRESS—into having
him evaluated. My theory? The kid hates tags. ‘Nuff said.
Create new traditions.
It’s important for a family to have a few traditions
to look forward to every year, or week, or month, or season, no matter
how small they may be. That’s why we brave the cold one night
every winter to check out the Christmas lights at a nearby park. And
why, come rain or shine, chocolate chip pancakes are served at my house
every Sunday morning—or more like early afternoon, if I get my
way. These pancakes have become such an integral part of our lives that
the thought of not having them is preposterous.
Be a parent. Your child has enough friends.
Don’t condone crazy behavior. Who are these parents who
buy alcohol for their children and host parties at home under the assumption
that as long as the partying is going on under their roof, all is well?
Don’t try and relive your youth through your kids. Set limits
and enforce them. Seek out support and advice when you need to—you
are not supposed to know everything, and it is okay to ask for help.
And get to know the people who are interacting with your child—their
friends, their friends’ parents, their teachers, their coaches.
We all know that it takes a village to raise a child, but that’s
much easier said than done when your village is filled with people you
Take it easy. Don’t be so hard on yourself.
Mommy guilt is bound to happen, but don’t let it control
your life. If you choose to feed your baby formula, let your child watch
TV while you cook dinner, feed your kids junk food once in a while,
yell at your kids or leave your child with a babysitter so you can grab
some “me” time—it’s okay! And while you’re
at it, feel free to go completely against what the experts say. I come
from a family that is big on teasing. We tease each other about everything.
And I tease my girls a lot. They are so used to it now. My older one
throws some zingers right back at me—makes me so proud. But it’s
taught them about the power of words. You know that old adage, “Sticks
and stones may break my bones, but names can never hurt me”? Bull.
Words hurt way more. Teach your children about the power of words and
hurt feelings. Teach them about what can be teased about and what can’t—set
the ground rules.
So there you have it—my top pieces of advice.
Of course, following them doesn’t guarantee any kind of success
(and the definition of success isn’t the same for everyone), but
it will hopefully put our kids on the right path. I thank you for reading
my column and letting me connect with you a little every month. I wish
you all the best!
Brinda Abu-Obaid is a stay-at-home
mom who lives in Clifton, VA with her husband, Aladin, and her two daughters,
Yasmina and Noora.