Charlotte Latvala: Basket full of advice


“Are we doing baskets this year?”

This is the same rhetorical question I have been asking my husband for the past few years, since our two older children have moved.

Sometimes they come home for Easter, sometimes they don’t.

Sometimes they bring in a significant other.

And sometimes there is a pandemic.

It’s hard to believe, but it will be the second Easter since we saw our son, who lives in Chicago. We’re starting to think of he’s a disembodied broad head, neck, and shoulders because that’s all we can see on Zoom.

So maybe it’s the year of Easter baskets, the year to stop with chocolate bunnies and Peeps and Chipotle gift cards. (Especially since two out of three kids are self-sufficient and should honestly buy me Chipotle gift cards at this point.)

Or maybe, instead of jelly beans and chocolate eggs, I’ll fill their Easter baskets with snippets of good old-fashioned parenting advice. After all, what could be more attractive than my dear old mother’s nuggets of wisdom? Here we are:

  • Don’t waste your 20 years. Or, if you want to waste them, waste them spectacularly, in a way that will give you exciting memories and fun stories later in life. (Most importantly, don’t waste it.)
  • Please don’t ever send me the word “mom” out of context again, unless you are actively trying to give me a heart attack.
  • Buy the right shoes.
  • Buy the organic chicken. Unless you are a vegetarian. In this case, buy the organic sweet potatoes.
  • Don’t wait until the right time to have a baby. I mean, be married to a reliable human being and have a job and a reasonable place to live before you even think about having a baby. But other than that, know that there will never be a perfect moment.
  • Also know that having children will change your life in a thousand ways unimaginable.
  • Most of these ways are pretty good. (Except numbers 238 and 459, which are about sleep deprivation and Parent Plus college loans.)
  • Don’t spend more on a wedding than on a college semester.
  • Keep your personality in mind when deciding on your career and / or which job offer to take. A fantastic job that makes you uncomfortable every day is not a fantastic job, no matter what others say.
  • Know that there is no shame in taking a nap.
  • Cultivate family jokes.
  • Be your child’s biggest fan, keeping in mind that every parent is their child’s biggest fan and there is plenty of room in the fandom for everyone.
  • Be a little nicer than you think.
  • Do not hold a grudge. For your own good, as well as that of the grudge.
  • Give others the benefit of the doubt. It won’t hurt you.
  • Remember, one day when you are old there is no expiration date for giving your children childlike things. Like the Easter baskets, I’m going to jam full of chocolate this week.

Charlotte is a columnist for The Times. You can reach her at [email protected]


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