Mothering By The Seat Of Our Pants

Figuring out that your parents knew as little about raising children as you do is a mind altering experience.

I spend much of my time in disbelief that I am the mom of two amazing kids, because I often feel like a kid myself. How did this happen? When did this happen? Just yesterday I was getting my license, graduating college, moving to my first apartment… and somehow I am an adult with a home and children. Children that come to me in the middle of the night with growing pains, and nightmares — looking to be comforted. I’m mothering by the seat of my pants.

How is it that I am winging it and my mother seemed to know everything? I walk around sputtering a slew of medical advice I got from this woman who was so thoroughly competent and mature at 35, they may have even let her practice medicine in some states, like West Virginia.

Was Dr. Mom wrong? Was she all knowing or just a teenager, stuck in a “mommy” body, spouting the information imparted by her mother before her? If your tongue has a green tint, do you not need to make a BM? If you get stung by a bee does toothpaste not soothe the sting? It all made perfect sense when I was 8.

I took these practices as gospel, logging the protocol in my “future motherhood file,” for safekeeping. I filled my arsenal with pertinent and sometimes even magical remedies, only to find myself at 35 in a CPR and safety class being jeered by the instructor, the “movie star” hot instructor.

Because I am mentally no more than 21, I was secretly praying he was a stripper, hoping his snug manly fireman’s uniform would Velcro straight off to the sound of some cheesy disco accompaniment.Don’t think I didn’t whisper, “bow chicka bow wow,” to get the ball rolling.

I attempted to impress him with the vast medical knowledge I had learned from the omnipotent Dr. Mom.

“Butter for burns?” He laughed. “Coke Syrup? for a belly ache?“

“Who taught you this stuff?” He prodded and not in a flirty teasing way.

Apparently, my medical knowledge was archaic. Not only did it make me seem old, it made me seem Amish.

I was about as sexy to this strapping buck as the Snapple Lady. There it is, that four letter word that is so hideous so heinous… L-A-D-Y. To this stud I was just some “lady.” My mom was just like me… some kid who was a “lady” to everyone else.Some of those brilliant treatments she made up on the fly and the others she just relayed as I did, hoping to sound as if she knew what she was talking about.She believed what she was told as a child, because her mom, another “Lady,” of maybe 25, told her it was so.

My entire foundation crumbled in 3 hours and a snack break. Realizing your mother was no more prepared or mature than you are is a shocking and mind altering epiphany. It’s like trying to figure out what was here before the world. If you think about it too much your head may spontaneously combust.

My mind was swimming. I tuned out the sexy EMT, well muted him, to think this through. Have I found the key to motherhood? Is it not in the actual knowledge but in the belief? My ultimate goal as a parent is for my children to be safe and secure. Is that not what my mother, the witch doctor, did for me? Having trust and faith in her knowledge was a necessary part of making me feel safe and secure.

Maybe we don’t need to know everything or be ultra mature to be good parents. Maybe the answers we have are enough.

My epiphany was making me hyperventilate .I considered throwing myself to the ground, grabbing my throat and kicking resuscitation Annie out of the way. Look, sometimes you take it any way you can get it.

26 thoughts on “Mothering By The Seat Of Our Pants

  1. Cherie

    What are you talking about…I attended Sophia Weiner University and did my internship and residency at Timberlane General Hospital. This EMT guy should have pulled the velcro. You are absolutely right, make your children feel safe and secure, that’s what motherhood is all about. Come on let Mommie kiss and make it better.

    Reply
  2. Gail Kent

    Yes, the kimono has been opened. Most stuff in motherhood works as long as your kids believe it will. It stops working when they hit teenhood.

    Reply
  3. julie

    sorry, i won’t be reading your post today. can’t get past the picture! leave this “lady” alone to fantaSIZE-LOL!!!

    Reply
  4. zeemaid

    So I guess my telling my daughter about an ice cream tree that you can only see by the light of a full moon has just destroyed my credibility with her eh?

    (Hey I was tired of the… where did you get the ice cream, mommy… where do you think I got it? sheesh)

    Reply
  5. Wilern

    Is that the picture of your EMT or an old picture of your missing dad. Dad was probably a guy with a wallet and no brain attached. Your kids will someday look at your remedies and laugh. The end result is that the’re comforted and feel loved. The path is somewhat immaterial.

    Reply
  6. admin Post author

    Wilern… are you calling my dad chopped liver?:) Truth be told he was more like a mom than most moms I know. However, he was not the spouter of magic remedies, he was the neurotic one that worried those boo boo’s may be something more. I have a lot of that in me too… but that’s a whole other article.

    Always love the comments!

    Jenny from the blog

    Reply
  7. The Business Coach for Moms

    The beauty of childhood is innocence. They innocently believe anything that we say. My 11yb whispers to the younger ones,”you know mommy has eyes in the back of her head.” Because I told him that one day…maybe several weeks.
    Their innocence is good for brainwashing. I tell them, “you can do anything, you’ll going to be rich, you are God’s Masterpiece created to do good things, you will change the world!” I even recorded a tape and put it to sleepytime music to play as they fall asleep or use as quiet backgrd noise while we’re in the car.

    The jury is still out determining if this form of brainwashing works. My oldest is a 16yb and so far so good!

    p.s. I need a supersize copy of that pic; but it must easily fold up to be tucked away into my wallet away from my husband! How soon can u get that to me?

    Reply
  8. Barry

    I enjoyed this blog very much. Picture didnt do a lot for me although everyone else seemed to drool over it. Dads handle things differently. Dads are better at giving advice on the type of car a future guy might be able to afford for her (Rolls) ,easier marrying rich than poor, checking D & B’s on prospective mates etc. Mothers are better at mothering and fantasy fixes for little hurts. Our guidance is Goal Orientated. You gals can handle the Fairy Godmother stuff better.

    I’ve seen your dad and that picture could be his twin
    P.S. I’ve seen your dad and that picture couldn’t be his twin.

    P.S. I know your dad and darn if that picture couldn’t be his twin.

    Reply
  9. Michelle

    I married a fireman, nanny nanny boo boo! (By the way, it sounds much better if you picture me putting my fingers in my ears and waggling them as I taunt you.)

    Reply
  10. rachy

    so, jenny, you didn’t get the “owner’s manual” at the hospital?

    parenthood is so simple — everything’s in the manual! (now availble in a searchable cd!)

    but, seeing you don’t have the manual or cd, simply remember this: if it doesn’t kill ‘em, it’s making ‘em stronger!

    Reply
  11. nancy schutt

    Oh yeah right, sexy men, especially firemen, well lets just say men in general, know the answers to whatever, better than young mothers, mothers in general, well lets just say women- pretty much all the time.
    you know what? toothpaste DOES work for bee-stings, tongues give the full story of your innards, hot water soaks kill warts, and sitting on cold surfaces causes hemorrhoids. Your mother’s wisdom was passed down to you from your great great grandmothers, and should be duly respected, especially by knuckle headed, albeit pretty, dudes. My great grandmother saved my grandfathers life when he was an infant with pneumonia by wrapping him in onion skins after the doctors said he was doomed. Don’t forget, you have a duty to pass this valuable information from your mother on to your daughter, then her daughter…

    Reply
  12. Insanitykim

    I taught CRP/First Aid for Red Cross for about 3 years, and all I can say is, I learned to recognize when people were NOT dead. Everything else pretty much requires a freak-out and a call to 911, which brings out the firemen. Who knows if they were cute, they could have been aliens for all I knew when my daughter was passed out in my arms!

    I stick Mentholatum under my kids’ noses for tummy aches, and for me I am convinced that drinking a dry martini will kill any parasites in my sushi.

    My mom told me if I coughed up phlegm and then swallowed it instead of spitting it out it went right back into my lungs. Didn’t take me long to realize it was going into my stomach. Did either revelation stop me? No…

    I have diarrhea of the mouth right now…any suggestions??

    Reply
  13. Ed

    Hey, give your mom props for perpetrating such a lasting and relatively believable ruse. I recognized the black hole that was my mom’s parenting ability at 5 when she lubed my pasty white ass up with baby oil and sent me out to play on hot summer days. I truly believe she would have used Crisco if it weren’t so expensive. So three degrees of burns later and the closest she ever came to Mary Poppins was when she suggested a blister-popping game. Hey, at least she wasn’t as bad as my dad who would make me drink a shot of cheap scotch before he slapped my blackened flesh then laughed until he farted.
    Kizmitically speaking, I carried a (substantially less sexy) photo of a fireman and told everyone that he was my real dad and Mrs. Butterworth was my real mom. God knows who my kids will claim as their “real” parents. All I can say is that I hope their mom is firewoman hot.

    Reply
  14. Tara

    You out-did yourself Jenny :) Such truer words have never been spoken…at least not the way you put them lol. Thanks – sharing with every mother I know! – - Tara

    Reply
  15. Chris B

    Oh, yea!!! I especially liked, “Was she all knowing or just a teenager, stuck in a “mommy” body!” For me and my mom I think the answer is/was a resounding yes.

    Oh, and I still feel like a 25 year old, but I’m in my late 50s! (I didn’t like me at 21!)

    Reply
  16. Kirk

    Lets see:

    Mothers do “Mothering By The Seat Of My Pants” and babies “Fill the seat of their pants”….. seems like a natural winning combination … LOL

    Reply
  17. Kathy

    Some of those remedies are time tested! Kissing an owie still works wonderfully. Just ask my 3 year old granddaughter. It worked for her daddy’s owies and it works for hers. It only stops working when you grow up and stop believing that it works.

    We all start out doing the best we can, then learn more along the way. Our first mommy education comes from our own mommies while they were being mommies to us. The best thing we can do as grandmas is to let our daughters be mommies to their babies. That might mean letting them learn new things too. Who knows maybe something else will work better, or at least different.

    We all figure it out, don’t we. Keep laughing along the way!

    Reply
  18. Erik Deckers

    You know, some of those old home remedies DO work. Don’t let some smarmy EMT instructor make fun of you or shame you into thinking they don’t.

    I learned a long time ago that a big key to looking like you know what you’re doing is to appear confident. Even if you’re not sure inside, just act like you are, and your kids will believe you.

    Reply
  19. Diane Mierzwik

    Feeling like you’re still a kid in an adult body – yes, I know that feeling well, especially last week when I was chasing my car down the road because I didn’t put on the emergency brake. Had to show my teenager, new driver, damage to the car mommy did – oops!

    Reply
  20. rachy

    i like Kathy’s comment about the kiss for an owie: i found that always having a few band aides was essential! i was always amazed how something so simple could stop the tears after getting a boo boo!

    Reply
  21. Alison Robb Astair

    Isn’t it amazing Jenny, that the calming and soothing answers are just inside of us? It all comes from so much love and wanting to just make things better.

    I always tell all of my clients, that children don’t come with instuctions! That’s much of the confusion of being a parent. The books sort of put a “one size fits all” into their writings. I end up in so many parents home where they tell me that one book told them one thing to do and another book told them something else! So much confusion!

    I love what I do! I love working with parents in their homes! Tailoring things to each child and family is where success comes in! For all of the other stuff, you’re right, it’s by the seat of your pants!

    Reply
  22. Pingback: A Test to See if You Have Officially Become Your Parents | The Suburban Jungle

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