AUTHOR: Carolyn Savage | POSTED: March 12, 2013 | COMMENTS: 3 Comments
CATEGORIES: Advanced Maternal Age, Glass City Parent,
Every Wednesday I appear with Rick and Mary Beth on 101.5 The River to talk parenting (or cooking…or wine…depends on the week). This week we are talking about the upside of parenting a second-time-around. I’m on at 7:30 am and if you aren’t local, you can tune in and listen on I Heart Radio.
I’ve written before about the pitfalls of parenting at my advanced maternal age. What I’ve come to realize however, is that there is an upside to having an opportunity to doing this whole parenting thing over again.
Sometimes I forget what a valuable asset it is that this isn’t my first time at the mothering rodeo. In fact just the other day a reference to my past experience helped me during what has become somewhat of a snarky issue between Sean and I. You see, to put it simply, Sean freaks out when I let the girls’ milk-filled sippy cups sit out on the counter. The other morning, I caught him sneaking their cups into the fridge, and I gave him the evil eye…
Sean Milk can start to spoil after only an hour of sitting out.
Me Those cups have only been sitting there for a few minutes. Put them back. They’re fine.
Sean Have you researched this?
Me Yes. Yes I have. (And I pointed at the boys.) See them. Yes, those two tall teenagers that are sitting on the couch. I haven’t killed anyone yet, so put the cups down and back away from the fridge.
Now, just for the record, I don’t allow the milk to sit out and go rancid. I do, however, have the added advantage of already having raised two kids. Of course, I don’t want to pat myself on the back too much (because I realize Drew and Ryan are still a work in progress) but I’ve managed to get them through without poisoning either of them. I think their success buys me some parenting “street cred” and I realize that there are a few other wisdoms that will influence the choices I make with the girls as they grow up!
Here are a few…
I know now that starting early on in athletics very rarely pays off in the long run.
I’ll never forget overhearing a conversation between two fathers of second grade boys. One of the dads was asking the other dad how his son was enjoying his first season of pee wee hockey. When the other dad remarked that his son was having a great time the first dad said, “Well I’m glad to hear that. I was worried for your son because, well, you know…he’s starting to play so late.” Apparently the first dad had started his son when he was three and was fearful for the other boy because he was late to the game at the almost washed up old age of eight. It struck me as an absurd assumption at the time, and is even more ridiculous ten years later because guess who’s kid is on the varsity hockey team and who’s isn’t?
I’m glad I’ve learned that starting a preschooler in organized athletics isn’t an indicator of future success in the sport.
Advantage # 2
I know now that material appearance is not an indicator of internal stability.
When I was a young mother I was often impressed with peers that seemed to have it all. The big beautiful house, the manicured hands and the cottage up north must have meant that these people lead carefree day to day lives. I assumed that a family that had all those things also had their priorities straight and that’s how they accrued such success. Now after watching a few of these “have-it-allers” lose it all, I realize that you can’t assume that the package is indicative of the contents. Carefully constructed facades are sometimes the first to fall.
I’m glad I’ve learned that substance is important and appearances can be deceiving.
I know now that being included is not as important as cultivating authentic friendships.
When I was a young mother I wanted to belong. I joined the swim club, volunteered at school, and worked on committees so I could meet people and create a healthy and enjoyable social life. A full social calendar made me feel good. When my life took a turn down an unanticipated path, however, I realized that the peripheral relationships that I’d worked so hard to create were not built on sustainable attributes. As many of my so-called friends retreated to their comfort zones, I realized that my authentic relationships were revealing themselves. Now I cherish my shrunken net of friends. These are the people I can truly rely on.
I’m glad I’ve learned to trade popularity for genuineness.
Of course there are drawbacks to this second trip down the parenthood path. I don’t have as much energy as my younger counter parts. I worry about how much of my girls’ lives I’ll be able to witness. I dread those moments when I realize that Mary Kate’s friend’s mom is a former fourth grade student of mine. However, all the downsides pail in comparison to the advantages that accompany experience.
I actually think I’ll enjoy this repeat trip through parenthood more because of my been-there-done-that…or…been-there-made-that-mistake-already perspective.