1. You will want to squeeze your child. Hard. Sometimes out of a love so intense your heart could burst right out of your chest. And sometimes because you are so frustrated you would gladly put that little person up on Craigslist.
2. Allow a ludicrous amount of time to do all things. It CAN take 20 minutes just to get out the door! Not me, you say? Girl, just you wait…
3. No matter what, get outside. The getting there might be pure hell, but the second you are outside you’ll be glad you did.
4. You may not want to be a lululemming, but I am going to tell you the God’s honest truth. If you want to look like you have new thighs and a new ass, without asana the first, run, don’t walk, to Lululemon, and surrender a Benjamin for the Astro pant. There really is a reason why Lulu makes the momiform of choice.
5. Know that your child has a sixth sense. The second you put ass to sofa or big toe to bed is when s/he will wake up from her nap.
6. Once your husband takes over a task, let him do it his way. Grit your teeth. And don’t say anything unless he is about to burn the house down or injure someone. Don’t say anything. Not a single suggestion. Put tape over your mouth if you have to. Because then there will be a fight. And he will never lift a finger again.
7. Remember the Incredible Hulk? If not, go find some episodes of the 70s series. Be prepared for this phenomenon if someone so much as looks at your child the wrong way
8. Know that even if your kid was fine two seconds ago, as soon as you turn around, relax or leave the room, that’s when IT will happen.
9. If you don’t want it repeated don’t say it in front of him. If you don’t want it reenacted, don’t do it in front of her. Few people outside of meth addicts and people with more money than sense find a young kid dropping f-bombs acceptable.
10. DO NOT be shamed by June Cleaver and her mid- 20th century-upper-middle-class housewife crew. Has Betty Draper taught you nothing, woman? The house is spotless and she looks amazing because she has a “girl,” lets the kids watch a ton of TV, has a fat allowance, believes in spankings and drinks and smokes. Pregnant. If that doesn’t take the shine off ol’ June’s apple for ya, I don’t know what will…
11. Rational or not, you will see danger in everything. A popsicle stick is a juvenile shiv. Popcorn is an invitation to choke. And bookshelves – furniture lying in wait to fall and crush a child. If you want to be a laid back mama, then. . . please tell me how because I haven’t a clue.
12. Ignore the mompetition. It is everywhere. Be confident in your choices, because if you’re smart enough to question your parenting, you are a queen. Leave the scene calmly. Speed dial your bestie to vent about the mom who, in reference to the organic snacks you happily threw by the boxful into your cart, told her child, “Absolutely not! Those are loaded with sugar!” Whatever you do DO NOT slapthebitch, chokethebitch or even say “Bitch!”… loud enough for anyone to hear, anyway…
13. You will come to understand how easy it is to “let yourself go.” So in your head, find all those frumpy moms you laughed at when you were a young, hip, fashionable, self-involved chippie. Then, on bended knee, apologize. Profusely.
14. Do not alienate any mom. Practice parental solidarity at all times. Because we’re all in this rocky boat together. We understand each other. And because one day, the mom you got all righteous on might be the difference between wipes or using that lone balled up tissue in your purse on your baby’s epic blowout.
15. Taking time for yourself is hard enough. Don’t make it impossible.
Jennifer McLester in Elfin Magic Photo: Margaret Ellington