Hey! Don’t These Things Come With Directions?

September 7, 2005    By: Kristen J @ 11:59 pm   Category: Life

I have some very lovely children, the cream of the crop I’d say. They do have a few odds going against them. The most serious is that their mother doesn’t know what the heck she’s doing. It’s true. I officially decided yesterday that I’m clueless when it comes to raising children. I don’t know when directions on child rearing were handed out but I wasn’t there. I was probably late, or I skipped school that day, or I may have been daydreaming.

This isn’t a recent development in my mothering life. When I think back, I didn’t know what I was doing right from the very start. I remember my first night in the hospital right after I gave birth to my first baby. It was dark and quiet, the night only being interrupted by the beep of a machine or the laughter of a nurse in the hallway. I was awake and staring at my beautiful baby and I thought to myself, oh my word, you are somebody’s mother! Even if I walked away from this child and gave her to someone else I would still have a profound effect on her. It was a bit overwhelming. When I said as much to the nurse that came in shortly after that he looked at me and said, “This must be your first baby.”

I didn’t walk away from her. In fact I took her home the very next day. I was kind of surprised when the nurses checked us out of the hospital. As we walked out the maternity ward doors I expected one of the nurses to run after us shouting, “Wait! You aren’t allowed to take that baby home yet. We’re not sure if you’re up to the task of raising her!” But no one did and we walked out to the parking lot with our little baby snuggled up in her car seat.

My husband and I loaded her into our junky little car with the heater that never turned off. I sat in the back with this new life and gently held her head straight. I felt anxious and she looked really freaked out. The look on her face is how I imagine a prisoner of war might look when being loaded into the truck bound for a concentration camp. For me, the first 2 months of motherhood were the most difficult of my life.

I went on to have more children after her. Oh how different they are from each other. I’m grateful for that. It adds spice to our family mix. It also adds to my feeling of being clueless. Just when I think I’ve got one kid figured out the next one starts doing something weird. It’s difficult to keep abreast of their needs and wants.

Sometimes when I’m walking through the store with my children or trying to teach them something new I want to tell them, “You know I’m just a kid myself. I really have no business being your mother because I don’t know what I’m doing.” I can’t though. It’s my job to help them feel safe and protected and I don’t think this information would benefit them in any way.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my kids and I wouldn’t change being a parent for anything. I just wish someone could guarantee that they would all grow up to be healthy, happy, and safe even if their mom is flying by the seat of her pants.


  1. Earlier in the week, I saw this picture on a blog, that she had found regarding instructions for new parents . . .

    Of course somehow, I think she and you and I all wished for a bit more instruction than that . . . but at least it brought me a smile! Lol

    Comment by sarebear — September 8, 2005 @ 12:16 am

  2. I had kids so young and I had no idea what I was getting into. The best thing I ever did, though, was take an early childhood education course in high school (we actually had a preschool at my high school that students of this class helped run) and later, while my kids were toddlers, I studied ECE at a college. It really helped me a lot to understand the different developmental stages they go through.

    And those books “What to Do When You’re Expecting,” etc, were good, too!

    Comment by Susan M — September 8, 2005 @ 6:47 am

  3. I am going to print this. It is wisdom. Thank you for writing it.

    Comment by annegb — September 8, 2005 @ 8:19 am

  4. According to Rusty over at Nine Moons his mom and I were perfect parents. The problem is – we weren’t – we made lots of mistakes. My feelings have always been God sent us good kids and fortunately we didn’t mess them up too much. We told them that regularly too.

    From what I’ve seen, parents who love their children and are truly concerned about their eternal happiness can make mistakes but it’s ok, they still grow up to be great people.

    Good luck, Kirsten

    Comment by don — September 8, 2005 @ 10:36 am

  5. Thanks annegb, that is a truly great compliment.

    Don, I’m counting on that to be true.

    Sarebear, too funny! I need to find more pictures like that and hang them around my house so I will have constant guidance.

    Susan m,I’ve read what to expect the first year but that’s it. Should I invest in What to Expect the 4th year? Is there such a book?

    Comment by Kristen J — September 8, 2005 @ 11:23 am

  6. Kristen,

    Don’t kid yourself. You’re a great mom! In fact you’re a great example to me. I learn a lot from you. I’m scared myself of falling into the trap of changing my kids to become who I want them to be instead of who they are (all within good limits of course). You have been a great example that it is possible.

    Comment by Jamie J — September 8, 2005 @ 2:40 pm

  7. Aw shucks Jamie! You are too kind.

    Comment by Kristen J — September 8, 2005 @ 4:43 pm

  8. I just wish someone could guarantee that they would all grow up to be healthy, happy, and safe

    Don’t we all.

    Comment by Stephen M (Ethesis) — September 11, 2005 @ 3:00 pm