People & Community
FA M I LY V E R D I C T
And the No. 1 Mother Award goes to ... By Katy Raytis
n keeping with the Best Of Bakersfield theme, I thought I should do a column on “Best Parenting Advice.” Then I realized I’m not really qualified to give any advice. In fact, last year, my youngest daughter gave me a keychain for Mother’s Day that said “#1 Mom.” I asked her why she picked that for me and she said, “Because I only have one mom.” Hmmm. I’d finished first in a one-horse race. Not exactly a ringing endorsement of my parenting skills. The problem with parenting is that there isn’t any advice. If there is, you don’t want to read it. I read “What To Expect When You’re Expecting” with my first child and turned into a total hypochondriac. By the time the next kid came along, I didn’t have time to read advice books, nor did I have any brain cells left that could capture and retain new information. The tricky part is that the parental battleground is ever changing. I started out as “World’s Greatest Mom.” I have five mugs and a T-shirt to prove it. But somewhere along the way, my oldest turned 14, and my highly decorated military status vanished. Overnight, I went from being the trusted general in command to subversive enemy spy. That’s the nature of parenting. Whatever “advice” you accumulate comes through unexpected trial and error – lessons gleaned from both hostile and friendly fire that feel like they leave you with more battle scars than wisdom. Military metaphors work. Just ask other parents. Their advice usually sounds more akin to shared war stories: strategic reconnaissance, logistics coordination, tactical planning for the teenage years. I don’t discount the practical survival tips. If you keep a bottle of shampoo and conditioner with the pool toys, your kids will actually wash their hair in the summer.
Bakersfield Life Magazine
You can finish social studies homework for a tired second-grader if you just use your left hand and include a couple spelling errors. If the kids are fighting nonstop, just pop in some silicon earplugs. You won’t hear anything but the gentle hum of your own breathing. It’s magical. Like snorkeling on land. However, the practical tips aren’t really the advice that parents need. The advice we want is how to make sure we will come out on the other side with our hearts in one piece. A few months ago, I was lying in bed with my youngest daughter while she was falling asleep. I told her that I hoped she knew how much I loved her and that, in fact, I loved her so much that there is nothing in the entire world that I wouldn’t do for her. She turned to me, with her sweet, sleepy eyes and said, “Remember yesterday when I asked you to get me a glass of water and you told me to get it myself?” That’s the secret. Sometimes good parenting involves getting the glass of water for them. But sometimes it requires teaching them to get it themselves. Figuring out the difference between those two situations is what really makes us World’s No. 1 Best Mom after all.
Opinions expressed in this column are those of Katy Raytis.