Here is the job manual I wish I'd received. It would've helped a lot...
Stage One: Indentured Servant
During your first four months in the Mother 'Hood, the only goal is to keep Baby from crying. Period. Sleep, cleanliness, personal hygiene, food and social life are all sacrificial lambs on the altar of peace and quiet. Your main responsibilities are rocking, burping, feeding, and singing lullabies. Stock up on ponytail holders and comfy pajama pants.
Stage Two: Mommy-razzi
After weeks of watching your little Lump sleep, eat and cry, you'll be ready for some excitement. Just wait. In the next few months, you'll have oodles. Smiling! Rolling over! Pulling up! Solid foods! Crawling! Walking! Running! Climbing! Your job is to capture it all with the camera. And then crop, mount, and journal all about it in an acid-free scrapbook while LoveBug naps. Or post online. Or send 8x10 glossies to your 145 closest friends. They will be thrilled.
Stage Three: Lifeguard
Once toddlerhood hits, your kid will go kamikaze. Put down the camera. Now your days will be spent slathering sunscreen, fastening helmets, inflating water wings and filling prescriptions for antibiotics. Your job is to keep Junior and the gang alive. Prepare to be exhausted.
Stage Four: Cruise Director
Remember Julie from the Love Boat? She kept the passengers happy onboard with Bingo, Shuffleboard, black tie galas. You will be doing the same thing...for the preschool set. Playdo on the Lido deck anyone? Fishsticks and french fries at the Captain's table? Candyland Tournament in the Lounge? And don't forget Mom & Me class, playdates, trips to the zoo and storytime. Unlike Julie, you will not be floating miles off the shores of civilization. It will just feel like it sometimes.
Stage Five: Bus-stop Babe
Hooray for school! Someone else will be in charge for a few hours. But don't plan on relaxing. Your Little Einstein will be on her best behavior all day (or not...) for Teacher and then come home for a complete meltdown. Keep lots of individual snack-size goodies on hand. Join the PTO. Volunteer in the classroom often. Spend one-third of the household budget on fundraisers. Spend the other two-thirds on soccer, ballet, piano, Brownies and Cub Scouts, gymnastics and swim team. All free time will be spent cleaning out the car and buying more individual snack-sized goodies.
Stage Six: Didja Master
Little Pumpkin is ready for independence and responsibility. Perfect your Didja. (As in: "Didja do your homework?" "Didja put all the DVD's away?" "Didja brush your teeth?" "Didja practice?" etc.) Consider investing in a polygraph machine and/or a cattle-prod.
That's as far as my manual goes...I know stages 7, 8, and 9 are coming soon and I am completely unprepared. If memory of my adolescence is an indicator, I think my future roles include: chauffeur, guidance counselor, motivational speaker and prison warden.
Anyone with a more complete manual, please advise. Thank you.