Getting Schooled, Mom Style

Ah, the Christmas season. I really love it, and I especially love that I always finish my shopping in November so I never have to enter the horrible, horrible pit of hell that is the mall in December. This year, I really focused on baking. The boys love to help with baking, and I thought they would really enjoy decorating gingerbread men and the gingerbread house.

After our hours and hours of decorating the gingerbread house and cookies, I came to the realization that there are two types of moms in this world: those that can use the little attachments on the icing decorating tubes, and those that can’t. I belong to the latter group. Artistry is not my strong suit, as is obvious by looking at the globs of icing dripping off the gingerbread roof, and the windows which look as if someone set them on fire, melting down the gingerbread walls. But who really cares? It’s Christmas, and the boys think that the house is fantastic and the strangely faceless, but highly decorated gingerbread men are awesome. Part of this is due to the fact that they are three and four years old and hey, anything with icing and candies looks great to them. Another, larger part is due to the fact that artistry is not their strong suit either. And yes, you can tell at this age.

Doesn’t gingerbread decorating really seem like the kind of thing that moms should be able to do, like locating a specific, small obscure toy in a room full of other small, obscure toys, and knowing exactly when everyone in the house had a snack and therefore when they will need to eat again? It’s like a male friend said to me when his wife was pregnant “I better figure out how to fix the bathroom plumbing. Don’t dads always know how to do those things?” Very true.

When I was pregnant with Mark I read probably every pregnancy book on the market. I felt like I was studying for some strange exam that featured questions about weight gain, blood pressure, ankle swelling, and epidurals. Finished all the pregnancy books, I started on the parenting books. The bizarre world of parenting books, starting with “The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding” and ending with the truly strange “Babywise”. Every book, it seemed, had a different agenda, a different program, and “studies” to back them up. Every book promised that if I followed their program, then my baby would be well-adjusted, developmentally gifted, and the happiest baby ever. First time moms can be insufferable when it comes to the parenting books, and I was certainly no different. I really just wanted to get everything right. I wanted to know how to do everything that I thought a mom should know how to do, not realizing that most moms learn through experience and instinct.

After Jake came along, only 17 ½ months after Mark, I gave up reading anything about parenting or milestones. Hell, I think I probably forgot how to read for a while, so sleep deprived and hormonally deranged was I. At that time, it was all about just getting through the days without too much crying (on my part). But what do you know? Despite the fact that I read none of the up-to-date parenting journals at the time, Jake has turned out okay. He’s turned out great, actually. Experience and instinct – it’s what parenting is all about. You don’t have to know everything to be a good mom.

So back to the original story – the cookie decorating. So what if my gingerbread house looks like it was decorated by blind, insane people? It was fun doing it, and the boys enjoyed it. I’m never going to be able to use those little attachments on my icing decorating tubes, and I’m okay with that.

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