When you have nine kids, lots of folks solicit your advice. I am a chatty southerner, so I enjoy sharing my experiences with other moms.
My youngest was the only one not born in Memphis. I had the privelege of having him in the great state of Vermont--land of freedom, even during labor. By that I mean that I (the one in labor) called the shots. Now, having nine kids over a twenty year span, things have changed a lot. With my first born, in 1987, I had to stay in bed, push when they told me to, and as soon as the baby arrived, they whisked him away to an incubator . Then at scheduled times I was allowed to reach in and stroke him through a porthole in the side of that scary plastic box.
Fast forward to 2007, twenty years later. I am all hooked up (I don't go natural if I can help it) and just waiting to deliver. The nurse asked would I like to get in the tub, or sit on the exercise ball? Um, no, I say, I don't think I could manage that.
"Are you hungry?" she asks.
"You mean I can EAT?" I say.
"Of course, you can do whatever you feel like doing." Nothing I would ever say to my kids, but during labor, those words were music to my ears.
But the biggest shock of all was when the doctor told me to just let her know when I thought I should push. Times have changed.. I have had a nurse storm out of the delivery room when I told her I didn't feel it was time to push, and I with my 7th birth, no less. And the incubator? A thing of the past for healthy babies. Nowadays they lay that little bluish-pink baby right on your chest before they even clean him up.
During those three glorious days in the hospital, I had two different nurses solicit my advice about kids. "Is this your 9th baby?" my night nurse asked, pulling up an exercise ball.
"Can ask you about my ten year old?"
We both chuckled. Of course, I say, agreeing that age ten is when they start rounding that corner, exiting childhood.
And the day I left that wonderful hospital (I am never ready to leave when it's time) my discharge nurse stood beside my bed. "Can I ask you about my twelve year old?"
Again, I laughed. Yes, I confirmed, twelve is tricky.
This month my editor at Memphis Parent asked me: What must your kids absolutely know before they leave home? We asked experts, other parents, and I put my own two cents in. Then we put it all in a piece called "Courtesy, Compromise and Other Life Lessons." The link is below.
I am the first to admit I haven't done it all right. It has been (and still is) a journey of trial and error.
I will leave you today with some of the best advice I've ever received : "When you think you have parenting all figured out, you probably aren't doing as well as you think," my mentor, Jean Stockdale, told me long ago. "But when you know you're in way over your head, when you start each day with "Help, Lord!" then you are most certanly doing better than you think."
I can tell you that has been true in my experience. And the "Help, Lord!" place is where I live most of the time.