Blog: Mothering By the Seat Of My Pants




By Contributing Editor Jenny Isenman

I spend much of my time in disbelief that I am the mom of two amazing kids, because I often feel like a kid myself. How did this happen? When did this happen? Just yesterday I was getting my license, graduating college, moving to my first apartment… and somehow I am an adult with a home and children. Children that come to me in the middle of the night with growing pains, and nightmares looking to be comforted. I’m mothering by the seat of my pants. I creatively make up feel better songs or merely relay the advice my mother gave me as a young child.

How is it that I am winging it and my mother seemed to know everything? I walk around sputtering a slew of medical advice I got from this woman who was so thoroughly competent and mature at 35, they may have even let her practice medicine in some states, like West Virginia.

Was Dr. Mom wrong? Was she all knowing or just a teenager, stuck in a “mommy” body, spouting the information imparted by her mother before her? If your tongue has a green tint, do you not need to make a BM? If you get stung by a bee does toothpaste not soothe the sting? It all made perfect sense when I was 8.

I took these practices as gospel, logging the protocol in my “future motherhood file,” for safekeeping. I filled my arsenal with pertinent and sometimes even magical remedies, only to find myself at 35 in a CPR and safety class being jeered by the instructor, the “movie star” hot instructor.

Because I am mentally no more than 21, I was secretly praying he was a stripper, hoping his snug manly fireman’s uniform would Velcro straight off to the sound of some cheesy disco accompaniment. Don’t think I didn’t whisper, “bow chicka bow wow,” to get the ball rolling.

I attempted to impress him with the vast medical knowledge I had learned from the omnipotent Dr. Mom.

“Butter for burns?” He laughed. “Coke Syrup? “ He questioned. “Who taught you this stuff?” He prodded and not in a flirty teasing way. Apparently, my medical knowledge was archaic. Not only did it make me seem old, it made me seem Amish.

I was about as sexy to this strapping buck as the Snapple Lady. There it is, that four letter word that is so hideous so heinous… L-A-D-Y. To this stud I was just some “lady.” My mom was just like me… some kid who was a “lady” to everyone else. Some of those brilliant treatments she made up on the fly and the others she just relayed as I did, hoping to sound as if she knew what she was talking about. She believed what she was told as a child, because her mom, another “Lady,” of maybe 25, told her it was so.

My entire foundation crumbled in 3 hours and a snack break. Realizing your mother was no more prepared or mature than you are is a shocking and mind altering epiphany. It’s like trying to figure out what was here before the world. If you think about it too much your head may spontaneously combust.

My mind was swimming. I tuned out the sexy EMT, well, muted him, to think this through. Have I found the key to motherhood? Is it not in the actual knowledge but in the belief? My ultimate goal as a parent is for my children to be safe and secure. Is that not what my mother, the witch doctor, did for me? Having trust and faith in her knowledge was a necessary part of making me feel safe and secure.

Maybe we don’t need to know everything or be ultra mature to be good parents. Maybe the answers we have are enough. My epiphany was making me hyperventilate. I considered throwing myself to the ground, grabbing my throat and kicking resuscitation Annie out of the way. Look, sometimes you take it any way you can get it.

About Jenny:

I am a neurotic mother of two amazing, wonderful, brilliant, perfect children which is saying a lot because I am a harsh critic and an uncompromising disciplinarian. You know, the kids have to sing for their supper kinda stuff… well, they at least have to ask… well, a grunt would be nice.  Actually, they just sit and I make multiple meals until one is worthy of their sophisticated taste buds and doesn’t exacerbate their fear of burnt spots, crust, pizza bubbles, or food that touches other food.  It is my job to keep them protected from the Florida sun, prehistoric insects, and plasticware with the number 3, 6, or 7 on the bottom. I have to expose them to just enough germs to build their immune system, while using little enough sanitizer to keep them healthy. I also have to remember to feed and water them daily.

A freelance writer for magazines such as InStyle and Mademoiselle, I also have a fabulously funny and relatable blog called suburbanjungle.net