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For a title so grand, with a capital “M”, you think it would have come with instructions.

I began my journey into Motherhood so on top of it. Pregnant with my babes, I devoured every word in baby books--the kind that gave me a play by play of each week. 

“Your baby is the size of a grape!” 

“Your baby is the size of a cantaloupe!” 

“Your baby can now hear your voice!” (crap, what have I been talking about?!)

I loved knowing what my baby was doing at each stage, and imagining it bobbing around inside of me shaped like various fruits and vegetables. The instruction was so simple, yet it was EVERYTHING.

After I pushed my babies out into the world, I stopped relying on parenting books , as they all seemed to contradict each other. “Let your babies cry, they will learn to self soothe, and therefore build trust and respect”. So while I let my baby cry, I would then read “don’t let your babies cry, they will feel abandoned and grow up to resent you”.

I decided parenting books were not for me. 

And so far it has worked out.(?) 

Except that I don’t know what I’m doing. I make stuff up. I Google, I guess, I pretend, I say “go ask dad”, I say yes, I say no, I say WHOOPS, I get it right, I get it wrong, I worry, I laugh--so hard, I cry, and then I wake up and do it all over again the next day. It’s exhausting, all this mothering without instruction.

There are times I check their pockets because I think maybe, just MAYBE there is a small folded up piece of paper hidden somewhere with the faintest hint of instruction. I’d settle for a simple diagram with a few steps and a couple arrows, just for when things really get crazy, and making it up seems hard. Where is the “Parenting Teens in a Pandemic” flowchart? 

All I find in their pockets are candy wrappers.

So I just keep at it. The laughing, the crying, the figure-it-outing. I take photographs, I take notes, writing my own rules as I go.

When I’m 99 and have life all figured out,  I’ll reach into my pocket and pull out a crumpled piece of paper, the word Motherhood scribbled on top. You’ll ask for a peek, I’ll smile and sweetly say: write your own instructions, make it up as you go. That’s what us mothers do.

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