When I was a high school freshman, the guidance department counselors gave our English class a "career assessment" to help us figure out what we wanted to be when we grew up.
According to the assessment--a series of questions like "do you prefer working with people or by yourself?" and "do you enjoy lifting heavy objects?"--I wanted to be a social worker.
Which, given that both my parents were social workers, made sense.
Until I realized I'm not social and don't work particularly well with people. (I'm not saying this is good, only that I realized it.)
So I went into journalism instead. I've got a bachelor's degree in mass communications, a specialization in journalism, a cognate in literature, and a minor in church music. (Long story.) All of which does me 0.00 percent good on a daily basis.
On the other hand, getting a PhD in motherhood would have been a brilliant idea--with these core classes figuring heavily into my pre-maternal studies.
1. Sippy cup location techniques. Sure, you can eventually track down a wayward sippy cup via the stink factor, but I would have liked a less stomach-churning option. My brother is some kind of engineer, and I asked him why in the world he couldn't invent a "sippy cup locator chip" to embed in the cups. You'd press a homing button on a keychain clip-on, and the cup would beep until you found it. He made noises about the cost and practicality and other engineery matters and never did take my idea seriously.
2. Maternal medicine. Is this one of the times I actually do need to haul my child to the doctor and pay the insanely high copay only to be told it's a virus that just has to run its course? Or is this the time for movies and medicating with Popsicles?
3. Stain identification and removal. Hot for oil, cold for blood. Got it. But what about stains of questionable origin and makeup? Is that brown splotch chocolate? I think it's chocolate. Please, let it be chocolate.
4. Sibling conflict negotiation. Never mind world peace. I just want peace at the breakfast table.
5. Sleep deprivation management. Or, how to look and act like a well-rested, functioning adult when your sleep debt makes the national debt look trivial.
6. Cooking for picky eaters. Wherein the kid who loves chicken one night refuses to have anything to do with it the next but you somehow intuited this and already decided to serve grilled-cheese sandwiches.
7. Everyday plumbing. I've got Draino and I've got a snake, and I'm not afraid to use them.
8. Math for moms. If Timmy has two apples and he puts both of them on a train traveling 63.7 miles per hour that leaves Chicago at 9 p.m. Australian Central Time, how long will it take for mommy to run screaming from the room to email the math teacher a strongly worded message about the stress of homework on children and their families?
9. Psychotherapy for hormonal adolescents. Otherwise known as, "It will be okay, honey. How about some homemade chocolate-chip cookies when you get home from school?"
10. The care and funding of orthodontia. Me to my daughter: "I will buy you a pony if you can just decide you're fine with those two weird vampire teeth."
11. Interpretation of eye-rolling. "I'm tired?" "I'm stressed"? "I love my mom like crazy but think I have to act like I don't in order to be a normal middle-schooler"?
12. Unconditional love as a primary language. To wit: "even though I know you bashed in your bedroom door with a hammer and then covered up the hole with a poster, I still love you and will claim you as my own in public." (Not that you're going to be out in public anytime soon, however, because you are grounded--without Wi-Fi--until further notice.)
13. Tween-speak as a second language. Your 11-year-old: "Mom, that lunch you packed me today was on fleek." You: "Why, thank you, sweetie. I'm glad you liked it and that it really hit the mark." [Hypothetical example only.]
14. How to navigate the school drop-off line and live to tell about it. Really, is there a reason that child in the car ahead of us has to store his ENTIRE LIFE'S POSSESSIONS in the back of the SUV and unload them at the curb???!!!
15. How to fold a fitted sheet in 67 easy steps. Step 68: give up and cram the thing in the linen closet. Follow up with restorative chocolate.
16. School artwork appreciation 101. "Why, of course, my darling, that looks exactly like a cow sliding down a rainbow, and I absolutely do want to hang it in the middle of the living room wall in the spot currently occupied by your father's and my wedding portrait."
17. Multitasking 401. Yes, you can breastfeed a baby while simultaneously making dinner for the rest of the family and texting the school secretary to demur on her request that you head up the elementary fun fair.
18. Cheap jewelry repair. Tweezers and needle-nosed pliers. That's what I'm talkin' about, baby. Because that little pink plastic necklace your daughter got in her birthday party goodie bag is, at this moment, the most cherished thing she has ever owned.
19. Advanced sleuthing. The rest of the family cannot find [insert any item necessary to the functioning of the entire household] even though they have looked "everywhere." Mom will find it in 0.07 seconds with her eyes half-open (see #5, above).
20. Motherhood as cardiovascular workout. Your heart is swelled up by love for your children. Your heart is crushed by love for your children. Repeat ad infinitum for the rest of your life. Because being a mom is a study in continuing education if ever there was one.
What coursework would you add to this curriculum?
Share it in a comment or over on Facebook.
You're already a summa cum laude mom in my book.
Image courtesy of Chris, rgbstock.com.
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