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I received a lot of guidance – some solicited and some forced on me – prior to Crash's arrival.
The best piece of advice that I received actually came from the sales clerk at Hallmark.
I was buying TK a Christmas gift – one of those Willowtree sculptures. I think the one I purchased was called, "Motherhood" or something apropos like that.
Anyway, it tipped off the sales clerk that we were expecting a baby.
CLERK: "Is this your first child?"
ME: "Yes. Why? Do I look terrified?"
CLERK: "Can I give you some advice?"
I had an internal wince and answered with a forced, "Sure."
I was waiting for the stereotypical "Get your sleep now" or "Enjoy every second of free time you have between now and then."
Then the sales clerk shocked me with some of the most thoughtful guidance that I had received. She said: "It goes so fast...enjoy every minute of it."
She explained how her kids were already in junior high, and she was baffled by where the time had gone.
I remembered this profound advice the other night when my parents came over to eat dinner and see Crash. I told them that I had started this blog, and my dad (right) said the same thing as the sales clerk.
"Enjoy everything – even the crying," he said. "Because before you know it, they'll jump in their car and drive away forever."
As a son, his thoughtful remarks made me smile, but as a brand new dad it made me very sad.
My dad went on to tell me about an Erma Bombeck column he read right around the time I left for college. He said it pierced his heart and brought him to tears.
After some online research and a trip to the library, I finally found the column he was referring to. It centers around parenthood, kids growing up and empty nest syndrome.
Again...smiles and tears.
I HAD to share.
Thank you, Hallmark lady. Thank you, Dad. Thank you, Erma.
"No More Oatmeal Kisses"
by Erma Bombeck
One of these days, you'll shout, "Why don't you kids grow up and act your age!"
And they will.
"You guys get outside and find yourselves something to do...and don't slam the door!
And they won't.
You'll straighten up the boys' bedroom neat and tidy: Bumper stickers discarded, bedspread tucked and smooth, toys displayed on the shelves. Hangers in the closet. Animals caged. And you'll say out loud, "Now I want it to stay this way."
And it will.
You'll prepare a prefect dinner with a salad that hasn't been picked to death and a cake with no finger traces in the icing, and you'll say, "Now, there's a meal for company."
And you'll eat it alone.
You'll say, "I want complete privacy on the phone. No dancing around. No demolition crews. Silence! Do you hear?"
And you'll have it.
No more plastic tablecloths stained with spaghetti. No more bedspreads to protect the sofa from damp bottoms. No more gate to stumble over at the top of the basement steps. No more clothes-pins under the sofa. No more playpens to arrange a room around.
No more anxious nights under a vaporizer tent. No more sand on the sheets or Popeye movies in the bathroom. No more iron-on patches, rubber bands for ponytails, tight boots, or wet knotted shoestrings.
Imagine. A lipstick with a point on it. No baby-sitter for New year's Eve. Washing only once a week. Seeing a steak that isn't ground. Having your teeth cleaned without a baby on your lap.
No PTA meetings. No car pools. No blaring radios. No one washing her hair at 11 o'clock at night. Having your own roll of Scotch tape.
Think about it. No more Christmas presents out of toothpicks and library paste. No more sloppy oatmeal kisses. No more tooth fairy. No giggles in the dark. No knees to heal, no responsibility.
Only a voice crying, "Why don't you grow up?" and the silence echoing, "I did."