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First things first here: Don’t forget to call your mother today and wish her a happy Mother’s Day. Then, call your mother-in-law and wish her a happy Mother’s Day.

After chatting for a couple of minutes, put your spouse on the phone, because that’s who your mother-in-law wants to hear from most. Even if he’s all grown up and wearing a uniform, she’ll always consider him to be her little baby.

If you happen to be a dad and your own little ones are too young to make homemade cards and last-minute purchases for your wife, then all the responsibility falls upon you to make sure she is treated right on her special day.

On the plus side, it will be her turn next month when Father’s Day rolls around. The more you spoil her, the more she’ll spoil you.

The remainder of this column is devoted to a handful of the many mistakes I have made in my 13-plus years as a mother.

There’s no better place to start than the first time Ron and I took newborn Jimmy out of the house. Like many new parents, our first journey out with “the new baby” was a trip to the emergency room that proved to be unnecessary.

We went to have his little belly button checked at Lester Naval Hospital on Okinawa.

It was bleeding a little bit, and we were worried. Although Jimmy’s belly button was top priority to us, there must have been patients in greater need of emergency care that evening.

We sat, and sat and sat. Jimmy slept, woke up and ate, then wiggled anxiously in my lap. Ron wiggled anxiously and sighed a lot.

Eventually, Jimmy produced one very smelly diaper. That’s when I realized we had left the diaper bag at home, a mistake I would never repeat again.

By the time we saw a doctor, Jimmy’s belly button had stopped bleeding. He left with a Band-Aid on it.

I was not very assertive when it came to feeding the boys flavors of baby food they didn’t like. After bad experiences with meats, we stuck to the more popular bananas and carrots.

Bananas were my favorite because they didn’t stain anything if one of my sons decided to cover everything in throwing range with their lunch.

Regular readers of this column already know I broke the rule about not letting my kids sleep with me when they were newborns and toddlers. Ronnie has almost broken the habit now that he’s in second grade.

My boys didn’t attend nearly as much preschool as well-meaning friends suggested they needed in order to be properly socialized and ready for grade school.

That meant they were home with me or out practicing their social skills at the park, beach or commissary. You would be amazed how social other shoppers can be when your kids have just overturned the grocery cart!

I don’t have as many recent parenting stories to share because not enough time has passed for them to be funny.

It’s hard to laugh over that hole in the garage door when you are still renting the house and haven’t paid for repairs. On the other hand, once you move away and have forbidden your son to practice lacrosse anywhere near your new home, that 100-dollar “oops” is slowly becoming something we can laugh about … almost.

“Happy Mother’s Day!” to all you moms out there from me.

A mother of three boys, Pam Zich has moved eight times in 16 years of marriage to her Marine Corps husband. They have been stationed in various locations, including Okinawa, California, Texas and their current home in Springfield, Va. E-mail her at homefront@stripes.osd.mil or find the Zichs online at www.lifeonthehomefront.com.

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