This is my third
Sure, I see the merits of being an "attachment parent," Tiger Mom or even a Helicopter Mom, and I'm sure I integrate the best elements of clinging, pouncing and hovering.
But as a proud child of the '70s, I fancy myself being more of a "Millennium Falcon Mom."
While dads can debate when and how best to introduce their little Lukes and Leias to the "Star Wars" universe, I have been culling wisdom from that galaxy far, far away to inform my home planet.
As my husband and I have been slowly sharing some of the magic of the movies with our elder child, I've pulled several nuggets of parenting wisdom from the words and sentiments of the original trilogy.
Granted, the "Star Wars" series sheds more light on the dark side of parenting than offering actual role models. But, honestly, with an 8-month-old and a 3-year-old, I often feel as if I resemble Han Solo's description of the ship: "She may not look like much, but she's got it where it counts, kid."
To my son and daughter, I expect to be play several roles. Part wise, mysterious-yet-quirky mentor (Obi-Wan Kenobi); backward-speaking coach whose age defies calculation, training them to harness and use the Force within them (Yoda); and that all-powerful evil force trying to blow up their world (Darth Vader).
Here are a few of the gems I use as a Millennium Falcon Mom:
The Force is strong with this one: Anyone who has a 2- or 3-year-old has probably said a less positive version of this. My job as a mother is to help them harness that youthful impetuosity, distraction and general whininess and turn them into a disciplined, refined and honorable Jedi.
Aside from spirited toddlers, the notion of a powerful force tying us all together is one to which I really subscribe. As Yoda explains to Luke in "Star Wars: Episode V -- The Empire Strikes Back," "Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter."
In other words, we are more than our bodies. More important, we are more than what we think are our limitations.
To that end, my husband and I know that our children are children, and not small adults. But we don't limit our expectations of them so they won't limit their understanding of their own potential. It is by understanding their own relationship with everything and everyone around them that they will be able to understand and define themselves.
In the meantime, with those spirited toddlers, I find that the Jedi mind trick can serve as a blessing when there's a war of wills. (This is not the toy you were looking for.) Just remember:
"Try not. Do or do not. There is no try." To me, this is about going through the motions or getting it done. Yoda says this, almost with disgust, to Luke in Episode V as his padawan attempts to lift the submerged X-Wing from the bog.
This well-known Yodaism is one that is part of my DNA. Trying isn't enough. Trying is, essentially, making fruitless efforts. "Doing" is succeeding -- even if you fail.
The key is to help the kids believe in their own power. Luke's disbelief of what Yoda could accomplish despite his diminutive size was what held him back. "I don't believe it," he says. "That is why you fail," Yoda replies.
Employing a disciplined approach with focus can be key, as can projecting success. Faith, which is what Luke was lacking. Like Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru in Episode IV, and later Yoda, we are big proponents of priorities, focus and finishing the task before you.
And in our home, we don't allow any Luke-style whining.
Knowing the odds is overrated: Han Solo scolds an ever-concerned C3PO, "Never tell me the odds!" There's a certain brilliance there.
Having a little bit of wide-eyed optimism and confidence has served me well in my life, and I hope to instill some cocky positivity in my children to help them both stride and stumble into success.
Frankly, if I had paid more than passing attention to, say, our odds of having a healthy child at our ages or the expenses associated with raising kids, I'd have given up before we even started.
I want my children to not let the possibility of failure limit them. Take off grandly, fly and, if you fall back to earth in a grand way, take off again.
One of the last things I always need to remember, though, when it comes to raising kids: "You are unwise to lower your defenses!" Being ever-alert allows me to function with Jedi reflexes when the unexpected materializes.
Happy Mother's Day, and may the Force be with you.