Mommy’s Little Instruction Manual by Conlee Ricketts

Kids don’t come with instructions but parents should. All adults should really. I’ve know myself for 48 years now and I have explained myself to my daughter more than once in order to make sure she doesn’t take any of my ridiculous nonsense too seriously.

Here’s my list of repeat offenders that my daughter knows:

1.  I’m loud—too loud sometimes. I talk too loud, I laugh too loud, I can be a “yeller” but I’m also able to get a room full of 60 twelve year old girls to quiet in three seconds with a calm, loud, clear, “Quiet please.” My daughter knows that sometimes Mommy talks embarrassingly loud in the grocery store, at the mall, in front of her friends, hell, even in the kitchen. Sometimes my “teacher voice” takes over and she hates it.

2.  I cuss. Sometimes I punctuate my life with inappropriate “flowery” language. My daughter also hates this, but this is part of the rebellious side of me that I share with my own mother. I have tapered back since becoming a mother, and I’m very well behaved in public and in front of her friends, but if she would just decorate that damn swear jar I promise I’ll cut back even more because I won’t want to put my quarters in.

3.  I avoid saying “always” and “never.” I even encourage my daughter to erase these words from her vocabulary because every single adamant “never” I’ve used has come back to bite me in the ass (25¢). BUT my daughter knows I will ALWAYS love her…forever. She even asked me about this statement because she knows how I feel about these words. We talked about a mother’s love and I think she knows she can always count on this. I realize she doesn’t quite understand how much love I have for her, but she doesn’t need too. I just need to continue to show up each time she thinks I’m “mad” and remind her that I love her (no matter how loud I get).

4.  Sometimes I cry but it’s not the end of the world. My daughter finally shared with me that if I tear up and look like I’m going to cry it sort of scares her, (translation: it really scares her) I understand. I’m the Mommy. I’m supposed to be the all powerful barrier between good and evil in her life, and for the most part I am. It’s just that crying relieves stress for me and unties the knots in my gut, so for her sake I keep it private. When she breaks down and cries about things I do take the time later to explain that it’s okay to cry and help her notice how good it feels and how much stronger she feels after.

5.  I like my calm and quiet time. For as loud as I am I also need the contrasting quiet to that. I have to have time to sit and stare, breathe and think, read and write. Sometimes she doesn’t give me that space, but I know that at some point my presence may become intolerable to her and she will shun me, so I might as well enjoy having this 80 pound tween climb all over me laughing while I try to meditate or read because she “misses me.”

There are a lot of personality quirks that come along with the whole package of Me and for the most part my daughter rolls with them. After I wrote this list I asked my daughter to think of things that she has learned about me that she considers essential to understanding the woman I am. Being loud and needing quiet were the first things out of her mouth. I think she may be the only person on the planet who has seen “the entire real me.” I’ve never needed to be anyone else around her because she has never asked me to be anything other than who I am. Consequently I am probably the most honest, genuine version of myself around her and she still loves me. I love that. It really teaches me a lot about love, trust, and acceptance.

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