Oh, I've read my fair share of parenting books. Before my kids were even born, I was reading about what to expect, how to get the perfect latch, and a variety of methods that ensured I would get a full night's sleep before I lost my mind.
Over the past seven years, I've read more. And more. It's like an addiction. If I read just one more, I'll suddenly have all the answers and be the mother I knew I could be. You know, before I actually had kids.
Well, it seems there are a few things all those books forgot to mention. But now, three kids in, I have a few truths of my own to share.
#1: There are no written words that can prepare you for being a parent -- at any stage.
You wouldn't read a book about a World War II hero and suddenly be ready to go to war, would you? Of course not. I'm not saying parenting is war -- at least not all of the time -- but it does take mental, physical, and emotional strength. While it's great to be intellectually armed with tips and techniques, you have to get your hands (and clothes and hair) pretty dirty to really understand what it takes to raise a whole person.
#2: Your baby can't read. And your kid who can doesn't care.
Sometimes theory doesn't take into account variables. And kids are absolutely full of them. "If you do x, your baby/child will do y?" Really? Could you please, please, please tell him that? Because I'm pretty sure he's not getting the "positive" or "discipline" aspect of this interaction. I don't recall any books saying that parenting is easy, but almost every one I've read does make it sound so simple. It's not. Ever. Even recognizing the simple pleasures requires you to stop, embrace, and reflect. That's three steps. Three steps that are outrageously challenging to remember when one kid is flinging cereal across the room and the other has her pants on her head. (Or so I would imagine.)
#3: You can love your kid like crazy and want to sell him to the highest bidder at the same time.
#4: There's no one right way to do things.
If there were, the parenting section of book stores wouldn't be so gosh-darn big and intimidating. Keep learning. Keep loving. And know that you're doing your best -- and your kids are too.
Amy is a Shine Parenting Guru. She shares all kinds of lessons (and laughs) she learns on the job at her slice-of-life parenting blog, Using Our Words. Follow her on Facebook so you don't miss a moment.