Hello, young mothers, whoever you are. I hope your troubles are few….But I know your anxiety is huge. Those of us who went to school and/or had jobs before becoming parents are used to accomplishing tasks over a reasonable period of time, seeing results, and moving on. Such is not the case with raising children. You won’t know for years whether you did an okay job or messed them up totally. There is no quarterly report card for moms.

I am the mother of two fine young men, aged almost 32 and almost 27, plus stepmother to another fine young man, almost 19. I have learned much over these decades of trial and error, and want to share some things with you.

First, I believe men and women are equal in every way and should be treated as such. However, there is no denying that males do not think or act like females and vice versa. No matter how we may try to provide gender neutral toys and activities, boys will ALWAYS find a way to shoot a gun. We had no weapons in the house ever, so what did they do? They used the half arch block from their wooden block set. They used a carrot. They made noises no girls ever make – engines, shooting, crashing, and an assortment of very rude sounds. I gave them stuffed animals to cuddle. Each morning, I would find that my second son had thrown every single one of them out of the crib onto the floor. His lovey was a second pacifier. One was for his mouth, and he used the second one to – are you ready – “rinse my toes.” He would run the nipple of the second pacifier between his toes to help him get to sleep. Can I guarantee you that he never switched the two? No, I cannot. Yet he grew up to be healthy and relatively normal.

Teenage boys have a unique aroma and it’s not pleasant. It’s not body odor or smelly sneakers. It’s not dirty bed linens or unwashed clothes. I don’t quite know what it is, but it permeates their bedrooms. Perhaps they emit it to keep their mothers from entering the bedroom and snooping around, like skunks do to keep predators at bay. But not to worry: I have conquered it. If I give you no other piece of advice but this one, I know I will have made a difference in the world. The secret is Renuzit Super Odor Killer, which is a room freshener that comes in a little cone shape. You hide it on top of a bookcase or somewhere they can’t see it, and it magically sucks in all the stench, like John Coffey in “The Green Mile” did with the badness and evil in other people. It costs around a dollar (I get mine at the Dollar Store) and I am never, ever without a good supply on hand. It doesn’t mask the smell with something flowery – it really eliminates it, leaving cleanliness and freshness instead. You will know without looking when the cone has withered away to a little nub, because the smell will come back. Replace it, and snoop with impunity.

I will have more valuable tips to share in the weeks to come. Do not despair, because I know the rest of the story and I can promise you that it’s going to be okay.

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