The title of this column is from the column I wrote for many years for the Benton County Daily Democrat (which became the Benton County Daily Record in 1988). The title was intended to be a double entendre -- meaning both whatever comes "out of my mind" or that I was going "out of my mind" because back then, I had four children 4 years of age and younger.
Little did I know that before my parenting journey ended, I would bear nine children in 17 years.
Ironically now, four children doesn't seem all that demanding.
Interestingly, I had far more advice about parenting then than I do now.
Now, I would advise any young parent to selflessly dedicate themself to practice self discipline, to love their child unselfishly, to study their child to help each child develop their full potential for their unique character, and to be patient.
It is essential to train, then teach young children. Too many young parents allow their children to "rule the roost" and many will later regret that abdication of duties.
Now, my nine children range from 21 to 38 years of age. Seven of them are married. Seven of them are parents themselves. They are each very unique individuals and I'm grateful and honored to be their mother.
My 15 grandchildren range from 12 months to 14. Their parents are dedicated to rearing their children to be responsible and respectful and their methods are different from mine.
My grandparenting is different from my parenting. I'm more patient and less demanding, but still want them each to learn good character habits and good morals.
My parenting of my youngest was different from my parenting of my first. Over the 30 plus years of having a child in the home, I learned that some things I thought were major issues were not.
Years ago, I heard this quote: "Before I got married I had six theories about raising children; now, I have six children and no theories."
It's relatively easy to advise when not in the trenches, but reality has a way of changing glib answers into profound questions and even more obtuse answers. At one point, there were six teenage girls in our home. But, teens become adults who know everything and then move on and establish their own homes and form their own questions, develop their own answers.
For more than 40 years, I've thought that life would get back to normal after various events. After the baby is born, after she learns to walk, after she's potty trained, after she learns to talk ... after she becomes a teen-ager, after she's married. Somewhere along the way, life kept happening while we were waiting for normal.
Life is full of ups and downs. That baby you adore will grow up and challenge your authority and wisdom and love. You may even be tempted to dislike him or her. But it's not about you!
Children don't ask to be born. We parents owe then unconditional love, selfless discipline and teaching and preparation for adulthood. It's the hardest job there is, but parenting is worth it in the end.
Editor's note: Annette Beard is the managing editor of The Times of Northeast Benton County, chosen the best small weekly newspaper in Arkansas for five years. The opinions expressed are those of the author. She can be reached at [email protected]