We do the best we can as parents. After all, there is no instruction manual. No required classes to take. No certification. People just get pregnant, the baby is born, and we take it from there – on faith, with much hope, vowing not to make the same mistakes our parents made.
Our kids grow up, watching our goofs. It doesn’t matter that we don’t make the same mistakes that our parents did, because we come up with a litany of our own. Despite all the best intentions, all the parenting bloggers’ advice, sleep scheduling, breast feeding, baby-wearing, organic applesauce, and “everybody wins” sports, we screw up.
In my novel Keep the Ends Loose, fifteen-year old narrator Mandy Heath watches her mother Winnie nearly destroy the family, despite the fact that Winnie thought that what she was doing was the right thing. We see Mandy in her teenage wisdom document the “soap opera that is her family” unfold, and it is Mandy who has the maturity to hold things together, despite her exasperation with her Mom, her hormonally amped-up brother, and her “long lost uncle.” It is a humorous novel, but it is also true. Our kids are often much more grounded than we give them credit for. And sometimes they save us from ourselves.
The first question authors are asked is “Do you write about your own life and family?” The answer for most of us is a decided “No!” Certainly, there are bits and pieces of events that spark a story, but I can guarantee you that if anybody in my family recognized themselves in one of my books, I would be in big trouble. However, I also must give my two grown children credit for “saving me from myself” on more than one occasion.
I don’t wear “mom jeans” because I have been schooled by my daughter. I learned early on not to hug my teenager in public. Good grief, I had no idea about the unwritten rule that a woman over 40 must not wear green nail polish. I have also learned from my daughters how to handle my husband when he tells that same joke for the hundredth time: “Just laugh, Mom. Just laugh.” Oh, and the all-important text, don’t call.
I write about young girls in my books. My novel-in-progress is no exception. I applaud wise young women. I was one once. And despite my many parenting mistakes, I raised two of them. I am proud to be their mother.
I just asked one of them for advice. Via text, of course.
Molly D, Campbell is the author of two novels, Keep the Ends Loose and Crossing the Street, both published by The Story Plant.