My First Message to Young Mothers


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.

14 comments on “My First Message to Young Mothers”

  1. I liked this. One thing that comes to mind is the fact that I still feel like a kid myself, in a lot of ways. There is definitely a difference between being a parent of young children and a seasoned veteran with adult children. I suppose the experience only comes with time. Right now, I can’t envision what it will be like to have adult children, let alone teenagers, and I also can’t believe that I am going to grow and change as well while my little kids grow up into older children and then adults. And yes, there is anxiety, and I think a lot of it stems from not being able to see those results as you go. At school you get regular progress reports, and for most of us, at work you get regular feedback on what kind of job you are doing and how your career is shaping up. Most days as a parent, I feel like I am just getting through the day and trying not to worry too much about what the next day will bring, because to do so is futile. Yet at the same time, you do need to worry about the future. It used to be that my career and my home and my life in general was all about ME, and though I wouldn’t have phrased it that way at the time, I now understand how radically different life becomes when you need to factor your children into every decision you make. It sounds like a “duh” kind of thing, but I had no idea how far-reaching this would be. For example — we were talking about college earlier — I put myself through college due to my parents’ bankruptcy, and I used to say that I would expect my kids to pay their own way as well (through scholarships, naturally). Now that the kids are actually here, I understand that overwhelming desire to want to do anything and everything for them. But then I lament the fact that I’m barely saving for retirement, and wonder how I will possibly be able to provide for my kids. Then I panic … then I wake up and start my day over again, and resolve to forget about it … until the next day. LOL, this is like therapy. Well, I’m looking forward to reading more “been there” posts from you!

    1. OMG, Melanie, I still feel like a kid inside, too! It’s shocking to look in the mirror and see my mother, or worse, my GRANDMOTHER.
      I’m going to try to help all of you worry less about the minute-by-minute and focus on the overarching themes of love, openness and doing the best you can. I apologized a lot — still do. I explained why I messed up — sometimes years after the deed. Over the years, the kids came to understand I was just a flawed human being but they knew I would be there for them because THAT I did as intensely as I could.
      So when the summer camp called to tell me my son broke his arm on the fucking Slip ‘n’ Slide (an accident waiting to happen marketed as a fun toy), and I was at work, 45 minutes away, I felt HORRIBLE. I got there as fast as I safely could, flogging myself the whole way. I apologized for making him wait. Then I showered him with attention and TLC (fueled by guilt!). Now fast forward 19 years. What does he remember? That I came to camp and took him home and bought him ice cream and took him to the doctor and snuggled with him on the sofa and let him watch a LOT of TV. Those 45 minutes that were an eternity to me and that I still remember with chagrin were NOTHING to him. Although I learned this lesson over and over, it did not sink in until they were all grown up. So stay tuned for more tales of self-flagellation and screw-ups!
      As for the college costs, I will opine about that as well in future blog posts. Don’t worry!

  2. Thank you Randi! So glad to have you here to talk us all off the ledge and let us know that it all works out in the end… It is very hard for this mom who happens to like results-now! Awesome post, and I look forward to more insight!

  3. This is great Randi-it’s good advice for us women who never lived with boys and then all of a sudden had to share space with a husband too! LOL

  4. Thank you, fellow boy moms. Hope I can be helpful to you and everyone, because some of these revelations may apply to all genders. By the way — this may be the subject of one of my future posts — do you get reactions of SYMPATHY because you have boys and no girls? This is something that absolutely amazes me. My sister, brother and I all had boys only and the things people say are unbelievable.

    1. Yes! Someone once said “Awww that stinks!” when I was preggo with #2 and said it was also a boy. HA! I won’t lie though…I’d love a daughter to go with them!

      1. Whatever happened to being grateful that a child is WHOLE and HEALTHY?? I will write more about this in a future post, but man, it really frosts me when people say this sort of thing to boy moms. And while we, as women, may fantasize about our mini-me daughters, I can tell you that a) I was NOTHING like my mother and hated everything she loved, and b) sons can be like their moms, too! AND…now that I have a daughter-in-law, I found my daughter!

  5. Ooh, I’m so glad to have you on board! I’m gonna need your help! Just like Sarah, we have all the “girly” toys, too, and just like your son, my Little throws all of the lovies out of the crib. “Rinse my toes” is going to have me cracking up all day!!

  6. HAHAHAHA! Randi, as the mom of two little boys, hoping to survive their preteen and teen years…you may have to be my new go-to advice source. I went into this “mom of two boys” thing thinking we would have all gender-neutral toys- we have a play kitchen, grocery cart, baby dolls, etc…and what did Santa have to bring this year? A nerf gun and a firework cannon that makes realistic firework sounds. Loved it 🙂

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