Instructions Not Included

I love instruction manuals. People claim that the ones Ikea includes with their products are pretty confusing, but I think they’re fine. I first look for the instructions with each gadget/product we buy and I make sure I read it from cover to cover before using or tinkering with what we purchased.  In fact, I have a separate filing box for all the instruction manuals of every appliance and gadget we have here at home — yes, I’m a little OCD — but doing so has made it easier for me to find the instructions/user guide in case we need to troubleshoot something.

So sometimes I wish that Carlo came with an instruction manual. 

Even if it were just in pictographs, I’m sure I’d figure it out. And in my dreams, I’m certain that this manual would help me figure out why Carlo has been crying inconsolably for the past 10 minutes; or why he chews Chippy corn chips and goldfish crackers like a pro but fake-gags whenever he eats anything else; or why he likes to throw things even if he knows that throwing is not allowed inside our home and will surely get him a time-out. And since this child-specific instruction manual is nothing but a figment of my most fervent wishes, I used to turn to parenting magazines and parenting books for answers. But I’ll be honest, when I do, I often end up discouraged and depressed rather than enlightened.

$h*t! I’m doing everything wrong. Crap! Carlo isn’t yet insert-milestone-here (e.g. sleeping through the night, walking, talking, potty-trained, etc.) Have I managed to screw up my child’s emotional/psychological/physical development by doing this or that? 

So this morning, when I read this post by Joey, I totally could relate. And just as she has done, I too am breaking up with parenting magazines and parenting books for a while because they just make me feel inadequate. I’ve got enough on my plate to handle without having to wonder “Am I a good mom?”

That e-card above really summed it up perfectly for me. Am I an imperfect mama? Yes. And I’m okay with that. I just have to do my best. I know the difference between what’s right and wrong, good and bad; and I can use that as my compass when it comes to dealing with my little tornado. For example:

Carlo eating his booger = not that great, but not fatal to his health. Carlo dumping cup-fuls of water all over the floor while we were brushing our teeth = bad but not horrible.  Carlo watching an hour’s worth of cartoons on TV or playing on his iPad while I cleaned up the mess in the bathroom = not good, but not horrible either. Carlo writing numbers on the wall with a crayon while I was still cleaning up the bathroom = not good, but again, not horrible. Me tired from all this but hey! I’m alive and my child hasn’t been spanked/yelled at/punished = a win all around.

Now I’m off to defrost some sole for dinner (Joey’s post that I read this morning lists an amazingly easy recipe for sole). And maybe my boy and I will bake some chocolate chip cookies for dessert too.  

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