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Going to war

I have two fellow tell-it-like-it-is moms. And one of them left for war today. A whole year. Gone. I’m not talking about the war between siblings that results in bumps and bruises.

I’m talking the real thing: Iraq.  I am terrified for her. She will be the gunner, flying as a medic (whatever that means). Thanks to the media, I have terrible visions of what this entails. She told me it’s not like that, but she’s a mom. I think it’s innate to protect the ones you love, even when it means not being totally honest. (Two words: Santa Clause.)

I’ll say it again. She’s a mother. For the next year, her girls will perform in dance recitals, get ready for dances and deal with “dumb” guys — without their mom.

Can you imagine going a year without seeing your children? Understandably, she was an emotional wreck. Dad doesn’t make sandwiches the same, or tuck in kids the same, or read stories in silly voices the same. Dad is good. But dad sometimes doesn’t cut it.

While a part of me can’t understand her decision and is angry with her for leaving, I admire her strength, her courage, her ambition. She’s following her dreams, and for that, I have the utmost respect.

But when I see the girls at parties without their mom, it’s going to be hard. I vowed I would step in as best I could. But I’m not mom. Yes. I’m a mom. But I’m not their mom.

Sacrifice. It’s by far one of the most painful requirements of parenthood. I have made countless sacrifices for my children, but nothing like my Army girl.

So here I am, writing about spilled milk, while one of my best friends is on her way to a warzone. It puts things in perspective, doesn’t it?

Please: Pray for all those who are fighting for our freedoms, who leave their daughters for a year so that we can enjoy the right to vote, the right to express ourselves without fear.

God speed.

Two tell-it-like-is moms

My Army girl and me, before war

Spilled milk

children, Kristen Parker

My three children

“Don’t cry over spilled milk.”

Before children, I thought it was just a cute phrase that parents said to calm down their children. But let me tell you: Spilled milk has created more tears in our house than bloodshed.

That’s what this blog is about. It’s about the real job of parenting.

When I was pregnant with my first child, unexpectedly of course, I read all the books. I learned when and what to feed him; how to get him to sleep through the night; how and when to punish. But once I had him, those books were moot. Until you’re a parent, you don’t get it. The books don’t matter. You have to do what’s right for you, and, quite frankly, for your sleep cycle.

In researching parenting blogs, I found several that focused on “how to raise the perfect children.” Parents who don’t allow sugared cereal, or chips or candy. Parents who never spank. Parents who don’t say no. Parents who strictly enforce the 8 p.m. bedtime.

It sounds so perfect. But, as I tell anyone, I am far from perfect and so are my kids.

Working more than 50 hours per week and going to graduate school, I’ve learned to give up control. I have an awesome stay-at-home dad who tries to instill some order in the chaos of a house dominated by three children. No, he doesn’t do things the way I would do them, but at least he does them.

So this blog will serve as an entertaining look into our family of five. We’ll show you that we’re not textbook parents. We spank. We yell. And, well, I enjoy a couple glasses of wine at night. My house is a mess.

But we cook every night. And our microwave broke months ago and we haven’t replaced it!

So we’ll also show you that we love unconditionally and that we allow our children to make mistakes. We lose it after a day of fighting and whining, but we always remember to say “I love you” at bedtime.

I wish someone had told me the truth about parenting, instead of having to read about the perfect parenting remedies. Perhaps it was post-partum depression, but after reading the books and the Parenting magazine stories, I felt worthless.

I subscribe to Parenting magazine and I read Dr. Sears. I even subscribe to parenting blogs. But rarely do I find parents willing to tell it like it is.

What do you really do when your child says he hates you? How do you really punish her when she runs into the street after her bouncing basketball?

These are things I want to know. I’m taking a leap of faith with this blog, but I’m hoping I’m not the only mother who isn’t afraid to tell it like it is.

So I welcome your blogging ideas and your input (whether you agree or disagree).

Spilled milk causes tears. But so does reading about “perfect children” that I don’t have.

My kids are awesome. And I’m betting yours are, too. So let’s share levels of awesomeness.