February 28, 2014
When I started this blog, nearly four years ago, I thought I would dispense advice about parenting. I figured, I'm a rational, even keeled lady. I knew I would never be the sort of person who had Pinterest-Perfect birthday parties or hosted tablescaped dinner parties. (I've actually surprised myself quite a bit in that respect.)
I was completely wrong.
I know nothing about parenting. And every time another thing goes wrong, I'm more and more certain that I know nothing about parenting.
I know plenty about being a parent, sure. But when it comes to advice?
I only have one thing to offer.
No matter how exhausted you are, how sick you are, how disrupted your routine, how much chaos in your life...
No matter what, you can make purple oatmeal. And you know what? It's a lifesaver.
Nobody tells you when you're pregnant that there will be days where you've got one kid with diarrhea and one with an ear infection, where you've probably broken your foot tripping over a tiny wooden chair while carrying a thirty pound toddler, and you've got to figure out whether or not it's worth it to get yourself to a doctor without a sitter.
Nobody tells you that there will be days when you just couldn't drag yourself out of bed early enough to make scrambled eggs and pancakes, as requested, and you've only got ten minutes for the kids to eat before you have to bring them to school.
Nobody tells you that you need a back pocket full of tricks that will only work for only one child, and only a couple of times, because sometimes that's all you need.
Instead, you get advice.
"Take help when people offer it."
"Let the floor go unswept- they're only babies for a short while."
"Enjoy every minute."
"Nap when they nap. Sleep when they sleep."
"Take time for you."
"Don't forget to laugh."
"Spare the rod, spoil the child."
It comes from every corner, from everywhere. "Parenting advice." And nine times out of ten, it's just added to the heap of clutter in your head making you feel guilty, or ineffective, or insufficient to the needs of your family.
But no matter what else happens, you can make purple oatmeal.
Boil 3.25 cups of water. Add two cups of quick oats. Stir occasionally for about six minutes. Add 1.5 tablespoons of brown sugar. Add 2.5 cups of frozen blueberries.
As the blueberries thaw (and they will in less than thirty seconds) they cool the oatmeal. The moment it's done, the kids can eat it. You don't have to wait for it to cool. You don't have to worry they won't like it. You don't have to worry about a thing. Just make purple oatmeal, put it in bowls, and give the kids their spoons.
And no matter what else is happening, at least they're all eating, and they're happy.
This is the sum total of my advice as a parent.
This is all I've got.
Next time a friend tells me with joy and fear and excitement that they're going to have a baby, I won't tell them how they'll be overwhelmed with every feeling a human can feel more often than they can possibly imagine.
I won't tell them to remember the precious moments, or to learn to take quick cold showers, I won't lecture them about a "heart outside your body," or the ever present fear that comes with the love, or how all encompassing, life changing, and life affirming that love can be.
"Make sure there's always room in the freezer for blueberries," I'll say.
"You're going to be just fine."