Linda and her husband, Richard, have raised nine exceptional and strong-willed children (five sons, four daughters, no twins, all genetically theirs…just to get all the questions out of the way). Linda is an accomplished author and co-founder of Joy Schools. You can learn more about Linda at ValuesParenting.

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Motherhood is Like a New Computer

When I got my first computer I was totally mystified.  With promises that I’d love it when I got use to it, I was crying for help most of the time. There were so many things to learn and remember!  With a six year old helping me out, I could at least open and close it, get to my emails and a find a blank document. But the complications of figuring out how to do things right with a labyrinth of new procedures in order to produce what I wanted were mind-boggling!

I was working on a new book for mothers at the time and the more I worked on the book the more I realized that learning to deal with a new computer is much like learning to deal with Motherhood. You have to know how to push the right buttons to get the result you want.  And just when you think that you’ve got it, you push the wrong button and it’s a disaster!

You have to learn how and when to minimize mistakes and when to maximize good behavior. Learning to insert encouragement at just the right moment without giving false praise and to view your child “as is” is one of life’s great challenges.

Remembering that every day is just a thumbnail of life as a whole is important. Sometimes deleting a bad day in your mind helps you remember that every day is a new blank document. Still we make mistakes but we can edit what we did wrong, cut and paste in a new idea and get a second chance.

For me the most important button on the computer is the undo button.  I love that thing!  What joy I felt amidst my tears when I accidently deleted a document I’d been working on for hours and hadn’t saved when my twelve year old patted me on the shoulder, reminded me that he had already told me several times to save the document first and then showed me the magic undo button.  It’s the same way I feel when I’ve gotten angry with a teenager who had missed a curfew and then realized that he had been at the hospital with a friend who had been injured while hiking.  Undo!  I love it!

Years passed and though I still often call one of our children to help me undo what I’ve messed up on the computer, I did finally learn to navigate my way through the maze pretty well.  Just like having a child growing up, you learn their page layouts and where the margins are. I was comfortable doing things I needed to do with exceptions of course, like a dead battery just when I need it most with no plug available. I still lose my cool when I can’t find a quote or a powerpoint presentation that I know is in those documents somewhere! This reminds me that I did write a book once called I Didn’t Plan to be a Witch because we never plan those impossible moments with kids, they just happen and we react just about like we do when we’ve lost something important on the computer!

Over time I went through several PCs, desk models and laptops and was actually feeling pretty semi-savvy on my computer…and with the kids. Then for Christmas this year my darling husband gave me a new MAC. What ensued was exactly like having a new baby!  Some things were the same but SO many things were different.  I had to learn a whole new operating system.  Some things were easier and some were harder.. I learned that I had to deal with some things with “two fingers, three fingers or four fingers”, depending on what I wanted to do.

Sometimes our children come with difficult issues and even rare syndromes that require tutors and experts who can help us learn about new ways to operate.  For details on our own new learning curve with an operating system we never could have imagined (which also involves a perfect Mother’s Day gift) check this out:

Motherhood really is a lot like having a new computer.  Every child is different, every experience is a challenge. But what brand of computer/child we have is not as important as how we deal with it!  We need to refresh our minds and remember that frustrations are always in the mix. We can gain expertise by continually learning how to hit the right buttons.  How well we learn to navigate our challenges with boldness is the key to success.

As Mother’s Day rolls around and passes us for another year, we Mothers need to remember how important what we are doing really is. More important than anything a computer, even with it seemingly miraculous capabilities can produce. We need to save those precious documents of our child’s life as our greatest treasures…something that can never be lost or deleted.  And in the end, our minds will view what we have done with amazement.

We must keep in mind however, that one thing about computers and Motherhood is very different. An anonymous donor said it perfectly:  “Time spent with a child is never wasted.”

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