The ultimate end of 2011 post. As written by you.

vintage noisemakers
vintage noisemakers via

Man, you bloggers and your inspirational end of the year posts. You certainly set the bar high for a gal.

There’s Neil Kramer and his annual Blogger Christmahanukwanzaakah Concert. The always thoughtful Chris Jordan offers 9 New Year’s Resolutions for a Happier Family at Alphamom. I’m seeing ridiculously comprehensive year in review posts that will make you feel like you spent your entire 2011 frittering away every free second on something stupid.

And I’m sure if you Google around, you’ll also find those perennial link-bating end-of-year favorites like “The Top Celebrity Moms We Love To Hate,” “The 12 Weirdest Celebrity Baby Names of 2011” and “17 Things That Celebrity Babies Owned in 2011 That You Never Will So Haha Sucker. Now With Giveaway.”

Oh the pressure!

I still recall my memoir instructor telling us that one of the things memoir writing requires is perspective. Without that, I’m not sure I can write the beautiful, resonant, perfectly insightful, mildly witty end-of-2011 post that I would hope to. Maybe in 2013.

Also, our house is a mess and I have like six taped Bravo shows to catch up on and we still haven’t unpacked from our whirlwind 3-city, 4-family Christmas week tour.

However, what I can do is reflect on few things I learned about parenting this year. Because as you all remind me, we never stop learning.

-Overall, the community of parents support each other more than they don’t. Despite what the talk shows and the page view-boosting parenting websites that allow anonymous commenting will have you believe. We have more in common than we don’t.

Mommy guilt is stupid. You’ll still have it, but that doesn’t mean it’s not stupid.

-Before you take credit for your child’s excellent manners/sleep habits/sociability/ability to speak in full sentences at 18 months, have a second child. Go on. Do it.

-Flip flops are far more appealing to children in the winter. In fact, the colder it is outside, the greater the insistence on wearing them.

-In life, at work, with your blog, with your children: You get what you give.

-You cannot parent based on worst-case scenarios. Or at least I cannot.

No mother does it all. So we need to stop asking her how she does.

-Damn every annoying cliche person who has ever said, “treasure these years, it goes so fast.” Because it’s totally true.

I’d love to turn it over to you, the mamas (and papas) who always know best and always turn my comment section into something far more interesting than the actual post.

What’s the one best thing you learned about parenting or children in 2011?


51 thoughts on “The ultimate end of 2011 post. As written by you.”

  1. I need to chill more. When I do I’ll be more present, healthier, feel less stupid guilt, have more fun, my kids will have more fun and it’ll probably make me look 10 years younger. Like a miracle cream only not so goopy.

  2. There comes a time when your children have children of their own. You will want to continue being supportive of your children but your grandchildren will need your support too and they will seem ever more rational than your children. Hmmmmmmmm.

    1. Not ready to think about being a grandparent! But I’ll hold that thought for another 25 years or so.

  3. Balance is bunk. It is like an imaginary bar someone has been holding over our heads… everytime we jump for it, it is yanked just out of our grasp. This year I embraced the simple fact that I will never be a stellar mother on the same day that I am stellar at my job. It is impossible for me to give my small people 100% of the attention they deserve at the same time I give my clients the attention they deserve. Now? I juggle. Sometimes I drop a ball. And it is ok. But when I’m with the small ones – I focus on them and when I’m working, I try to keep my attention there. It definitely isn’t perfect, but it is possible.

    1. I agree. I heard a leadership guru say work/life balance is a misnomer. He refered to it as a symphony, at different times different instruments and sections take the lead, but it all comes together for beautiful music. I try to remind myself of this as I try to give everything 100%. Just play the piece as it happens and it will all be fine.

      1. I think that work + life + balance are three words that should never appear together, consecutively, ever again. Could that be our 2012 resolution?

    2. Well said.
      I drop the ball all the time. But then I pick it up, move forward, and try to focus on what’s in front of me.

  4. If I can’t rationalize my parenting decisions as related to my children’s health and safety or in the interests of their being the best “them” they can be, then I am probably misguided or over-relying on the reflexive “no.” I often owe them more thoughtfulness, and I am working on it.

    1. No is totally a reflex, isn’t it? I remember a great article a few years ago about a mom who decided to say yes–to everything–for a few days. The world didn’t end. Fascinating.

  5. I learned that it is better to take a break and play with my children, especially when my instinct is to brush them off and say “Later…”

  6. Just when you think your 17 year old daughter can’t possibly kick your emotional ass and hand it to you one…more…time, she suddenly starts to morph into an insightful, empathetic and almost-wise human being JUST IN TIME for you to send her off to college in the fall.

  7. Great post, as a new Dad i can already relate to pretty much all of it 🙂 Thank you!

  8. Babies don’t keep but messes do.
    Hold your babies, they’ll only be this small for so long.
    The rest of that crap over there can wait, promise.

  9. Parenting doesn’t end when your kids turn 18 or 19 or 20 or go to college. It’s not that it gets more difficult but it definitely gets more complicated. And more expensive. Still, I wouldn’t trade a day. Ok, I would trade a day. But not more than that. Ok, maybe two days.

    Happy New Year, Liz!

  10. She won’t remember these first few years, all the time we spent together, the nights snuggling, the days filled with play and laughter, the dates with my husband that almost always include a +1 now. She won’t remember that for a while, mama put her life on hold, so I could bask in hers. She won’t remember, but I will. I learned that the stuff that matters will be there when I’m ready to get back to it. But right now, what matters is her. And it does go so. very. fast.

    1. I love the distinction between what we do for our kids and what we do for us. Sometimes it’s both. But sometimes it’s not; and it’s easy to confuse. Happy new year!

      1. She may not remember as in “be able to talk about her experience as an infant,” but I have friends who fostered a boy who had never been picked up in his first few months of life (his parents had drug problems). He had SO much of a deficit that I don’t know if he will ever overcome it. The snuggling, the loving, the attention – it is absolutely crucial to those little babies. Don’t ever forget it.

  11. Sometimes you have to hover – long after you think you can take a deep breath and let them fly a little on their own. This is especially true if your kid has some “stuff.”

  12. 1 – I am a better parent when I am MORE frazzled than when I have too much time to dwell on shit that does not matter.

    2 – Despite the fact that my son needs ‘time alone’ (gasp) when the stomach flu hits – he still needs mom. Guess I will be going to college with him after all.

    Happy New Year Liz – Thanks for being a marvelous influence on the blogger world. R

  13. I’m finally getting to where I can say “screw the mess” and just play with the kids. Now I need to get my guests on board with the mess.

  14. We had a busy year, and at the end of it when I finally let go of some things so I could spend more time with my toddlers, I found that they and I are better, calmer, and enjoy the day more when we spend more quality time together.

    Unfortunately, that realization has made me feel more guilt rather than less, even though you are so right, guilt is a stupid waste of time and emotional space. Someone needs to make a pill for that.

  15. I’ve learned that my Ideal Mom Self and my Actual Mom Self are a lot farther apart than I would like them to be. Alas.

    I’ve learned that going back to work has made the three hours after school and before we settle down to dinner-or some approximation thereof-that much more difficult because we’re all tired, and I’m that much more inclined to try and squeeze every minute out of every moment with my kids. But I’m worn out. And maybe a little mean.

    I’ve learned about this blog and it’s reminded me that it’s ok to think, to be critical, to be forgiving, to be always working towards being a better person and mom. So thanks.

    Happy New Year everybody!

    1. Ah, the Arsenic Hours — when you can’t decide whether it would be better to eat some yourself, or sprinkle it on a doughnut and feed it to the kids. Trust me, as they get older, it gets better. All too soon they’ll be in their rooms during those hours, instead of under your feet…in their rooms with their earbuds in, not hearing you call them to dinner…

  16. I became a mom this year and learned what it means to love something completely. (Don’t let my husband know.)

  17. That a lot of parenting problems solve themselves when I stop trying to solve them.

    So maybe I shouldn’t stress so much.

    (Latest case in point: the 2 year old who is almost done weaning after I threw in the towel and said we’d stop trying to wean because she was fighting it so hard. What’s worse: this is the second child I’ve weaned, and it went the same damn way the first time around. I guess I’m a slow learner.)

    Happy New Year!

  18. This year I saw my children deal with a stressful situation. And my heart ached for them, but I was so proud when my daughter came to me and said “I need help with this, it’s too much for me right now.”

    I almost pulled a muscle patting myself on the back for raising a kid like that.

  19. When I left a corporate job to stay home full time with my 4-year old son and start a home-based business this year, I learned just how HARD full-time parenting is. When I told my son I wouldn’t have a boss anymore, he said, “I’ll be your boss, Mama”. Yep, truer words were never spoken. Toughest boss I’ve ever worked for. 😉

  20. this year i’ve taken a much more laid-back approach to parenting – less volunteering at the kids’ school, fewer after-school activities, more just “hanging out”. i’m totally digging it as a lifestyle choice.

  21. No matter how good a parent you are, or how good a person your kid is, they will mess up, and people will judge. You will all learn from it, though, and become better people because of it. Then you’ll realize how little everyone else’s opinion actually matters and how freeing that is.

  22. Well, to be quite honest, I haven’t learned much about parenting. YET. That will come later in 2012 when we have our first. And I’m both excited and terrified at the same time. I have a feeling that’s a parenting sensation that never goes away.

    1. You’re in good hands Liz. Lots of people who are still excited and terrified, but here and ready to help.

  23. I’ve learned (or am in the process of learning) that there’s really no “right” way to do anything related to parenting. What worked for you may not work for me, and vice versa. Or even, what worked with my first may not be right for my second. Along the way, I’ve finally gathered that, when friends make parenting choices different from my own, it’s not a judgment against me. In fact, it has nothing to do with me or my choices. Those are THEIR choices for THEIR children. And, those choices and my choices can both be valid.

  24. That, when I take a deep breath, I can “find the joy” in (just about) any situation. It’s become a mantra for me (hence, the quotation marks)–and it’s prevented countless moments that I would have regretted later without that breath and reminder… “Find the joy.” Example: Younger daughter sitting on floor with library book and a dozen ripped pages… Enter mom. Experience pulse rate quicken and patience end. “Find the joy. Find the joy.” I look over at my older daughter for some distraction and she is running up the stairs with the duct tape. I laugh. Found it.

    1. I think that’s the kind of story I’ll always remember Julie. It reminds me of something Gretchen Rubin would write. Thank you.

  25. Goodness I know! The pressure of summarizing the year – especially when all the media outlets and bloggers are already doing such a bang up job of it.

    Anyway, what I’ve learned parenting wise (or at least what I try to remind myself) is that children are remarkably resilient. My son will not be indelibly scared by crying himself to sleep one or two nights or not perennially spoiled because I gave in to a tantrum when I was at my wits end. Wonderful people emerge from all kinds of parenting environments.

    I say that to the moms (like myself) who fret about providing too much or too little of just about everything (discipline, boundaries, sugar… whatever!) to the point that it drives us crazy. As long as we continue to be a loving and intentional parents our children are going to be just fine. And maybe even better off the less we fret.

  26. When both parents are home it doesn’t mean it’s time to “get things done”, sometimes it’s time to sand which the kids with attention!

    My kids are frggin awesome in a crises. I was sick for two straight months and the oldest two dis SO much, and I felt guilty for it until I read my 2nd grader’s back to school report. She was so proud of being capable and she cherished all the reading I did with her. All the stuff I was afraid they would regret missing out on was my problem, not theirs.

  27. I was struck by something Jayme wrote: “She won’t remember that for a while, mama put her life on hold, so I could bask in hers. She won’t remember, but I will.” She’s right. I thought I quit my job for my kids. But I really did it for me.

    1. mrs.Q – really profound words –
      I need to remember this when I say to my kids – I stayed home all those years with you, for you
      actually – it was for me. thanks, rachel

  28. Your child will potty train when he is good and ready, and NOT BEFORE. 🙂

  29. I learned this year to keep reminding myself that “this is her childhood”. This is IT. All the good, all the bad, all the mundane; this is her childhood. It helps me stay grounded and in the moment – especially those small moments when we are hanging out and laughing and playing together.

    And I learned too that six is a great age! Tons of fun…

  30. I learned that it is ok to say “yes” to my four year old daughter. In fact it’s important to show her that what’s important to her is also important to me (at least every once in a while).

    I also learned that having a second child changes everything! 5 weeks old and counting. Precious!

    Welcome to 2012!

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