Sometimes, things get tangled up. As a parent, you do what you can.

By Sammi Johnson

My dad once said, “There’s no handbook for raising children, so you just go for it and hope for the best. And, I have to say I’m patting myself on the back because I think I did a damn good job.” I mean, that’s nice and all, but the serious takeaway is that I totally get what he means and want to be able to say that exact same thing some day.

“We did it. Everyone is OK. We did OK.”

As for my response to the small boy in front of me asking how kids get made, I said: “magic.” He’s actually asked me four, possibly five times to date. But, yep, I went with magic. Was that the right answer for right then? I stand by it. There is no handbook for parenting. I mean, there is, if you count the cabagillion mommy blogs, parenting books and parenting pro-tips websites that provide a ton of great advice — but never for the exact situation in your life.

In the heat of the moment, it’s just you answering questions from way out in left field. It’s just you brushing out Frankenstein hair, which then becomes a unsolvable math problem by morning. It’s just you untangling six necklaces, and somehow you get them apart, but you could never again replicate the methodology of your smart ways. It’s just you scratching your head over the amount of missing socks in your home — an unexplainable, constant mystery. No rhyme or reason, just trial and error.

That’s what parenting is. It’s one slippery slope, one enormous leap into the universe of the unknown. Saddle up, buckle down, loose your ego, and go for it. I’m discovering that’s how you approach parenting. And business. And life.

We do have some huge wins in the parenting department — don’t get me wrong, our kids rule! And we love parenting. We love it so much that we decided to do it again, but I’ll save that story for another column. We’re winning every day, but we’re also losing. I mean, how are you supposed to navigate this web of a life with grace, humility and patience when the medical bills drop, the weenie song that your son made up is on repeat and you’ve spilled the milk again?

My dad introduced the idea that’s there no handbook for this, but he’s also the one who patted himself on the back for doing a good job without one.

The point is this: You’re going to pull hair, break the necklace, say the wrong thing, overreact, underreact, cry, laugh and remember with gratitude that tomorrow is another day. And our kids will be OK. They’ll be able to navigate work, relationships, heartbreaks, promotions … and basic life like a champ, because we did. And do. Every day. So we’re owning our shortcomings, admitting fault, celebrating our awesomeness and trying to squeeze the best out of every moment, which creates amazing days, all of which adds up to an amazing life. We’ll look back without any idea how we managed to untangle the web of it all, because we couldn’t repeat it even if we tried.

Happy end of 2017. This rally cry is for you, me and all the other parents out there. May we all pat ourselves on the back. You’re doing a damn good job without a handbook.

Sammi is a mother, wife, business owner and marketing director at the Flathead Beacon in Kalispell. Contact her at