It begins with pregnancy. The advice storm during pregnancy is just the precursor to the “words of wisdom” avalanche that is making its way toward you. Just when you think you cannot possibly hear one more “vaginal ripping” story, you join the ranks of motherhood and foolishly assume the horror stories are over.
Wrong song, Sally.
It never ends. You hear stories of tantrums, trips to the ER, anal thermometers, and then there are the stories about the children!
Most of these stories bring us closer together. Most of the time, we just need to share a “me, too” moment. We bare witness for each other and we feel less alone.
This is not always the case, however. I love to hear a story that makes me feel better about my own inadequacies. I do not like to hear, “Can I give you some advice?” That never ends well. Trust me. If anyone says that to you, feign a case of diarrhea and run for the door.
Choose the advice you listen to very carefully. Choose your friends wisely.
The best advice a friend gave me was, “Don’t forget to have fun and don’t forget to play.” At the time, it seemed so simple, so silly. It sounded like, “Don’t forget to breathe in and out each day.”
Those words have saved my bacon so many times. When I have been face down in diapers, swamped with work, overwhelmed by mountains of laundry or so tired that I put the coffee pot in the freezer, I would remember her advice and make myself leave the house in search of fun. I never had to go far because the women in my neighborhood know fun.
Several years ago, we started a neighborhood tradition. We prank each other by leaving bizarre objects in each other’s homes. We might leave a Lil Wayne painting on your mantle. We might place a mannequin on your lawn chair. In the heat of summer, we might leave a life sized Santa on your front stoop.
It is completely immature. It is completely fun.
When we returned from vacation last summer, we were welcomed home by a mannequin on our roof. At bedtime, my daughter said, “When I grow up, I hope I have friends just like yours.” I hope so, too.
I hope she remembers to play.
I hope she remembers to have fun.
I hope she has friends that will make her belly laugh.
I hope she has friends that will hold her hand when she has an ugly cry.
I hope she remembers that driving a minivan does not mean the party is over.