1. When people say things like "you cannot put a price on that," it doesn't mean you won't be paying for it.
2. Sanctimonious parents often really do know what they are doing. The trick is to figure out what they know without having to spend too much time around them.
3. There is nothing dumber in parenting than starting an argument with your mother-in-law over her style of feeding, caring for, or entertaining your children. She is feeding, caring for and entertaining your children. Do the math.
4. You can spend a lot of time trying to get to the bottom of questions like "why are there marshmallows on the pool table?" but it won't improve your bank shot.
5. Be very skeptical of parenting books that promote some trendy new "system" or "method" or "way" of raising cooperative, successful and attractive children. It is virtually impossible to get kids to read these books.
6. If you do not have a system for keeping track of scissors, nail clippers, left shoes, cell phones and permission slips, the result is exactly the same as if you did, except that you will have established yourself as the go-to person for tracking it all down when the system fails.
7. It is important to keep at least one small part of your life for yourself even if it is only the part you spend thinking about taking a shower. Actual showers are where you will be signing permission slips and mediating sibling disputes for the next 18 years.
8. Keep a pen handy in the shower.
9. Don't get too attached to anything in your house that is made of glass or can be thrown.
10. When someone from the PTA approaches you for the first time, tell them you would really, really like to help, but their projects are stupid and the other parents are irritating. Then say, "I'm just kidding," and give them your husband's cell phone number and e-mail address.
11. Pedicures are a waste of time and money. Schedule them regularly.
12. Celebrity parenting advice is not as useful as you would think.
13. The best way to keep your sanity throughout the teenage years is to spend them on a tropical island with a handsome stranger and a supply of rum drinks. The second best way doesn't work.
14. Surround yourself with people who can talk about something besides their kids. Make sure at least one of them has a really dark sense of humor and a tattoo.
15. Don't look under the couch cushions until you have come to terms with the fact that what you see as a piece of furniture, your children will always see as a place to eat chips and salsa straight from the package.
16. While no one really believes that wolves are capable of raising human children, if you set the bar at the wolf standard, you will spend a lot less time frustrated over things like the fact that your kitchen looks as if coyotes have been using it.
17. If you can dream it, you can do it. Just kidding. Your dreams are finished. Get over them.
18. Make new dreams. Really, really, tiny dreams. Take a ridiculous amount of pleasure in them.