Whew, I did it! All three of my children are not children. I am happy to report they are grown and gainfully employed. Now that I am in that “season” of my life, I can look back as a mom and reflect on the journey. So, here are five “pinches” of advice I would pass on to new and young moms:
1. Let’s start with tough love – there is a great possibility your child will never be a professional (fill in the blank).
From sports to dance, these professions are extremely difficult to achieve. Now, I’m not saying it could NEVER happen, I’m just gently reminding you that all those treks for all-star teams and the money and time spent on recitals just might be the pinnacle. It’s okay. Sit back and enjoy the game, cheer “Bravo.” Let your child see you enjoying his or her extra-curricular activity. Sitting around the dinner table twenty years later you will be proud that he or she remembers an encouraging and loving parent, not crazy, screaming at the umpire lady. And, if your kid IS a professional (fill in the blank) then send them an itemized list of all the money they owe you!
2. (Emotional Spoiler Alert) EVERY chance you get show thanks to the loved ones in your life that are helping to raise your precious babies.
They will not always be around. If your child is fortunate to have grandparents, aunts, uncles, or family friends giving time and love to your children, well, thank them. Often. Trust me, a little acknowledgement can cast a long shadow. The memories will be all the sweeter. You will have no regrets, and your loved one will know they are appreciated.
3. You have heard this one before, but it’s worth repeating. Pick your battles.
Traditionally, this is advocated for your sanity in the moment of trouble; however, I would add that carefully deciding what is necessary to get upset about will save you much heartache and embarrassment in the future. Case in point, when my daughter was three my sister gave her an American Girl doll (read expensive). It was adorably cute – blonde, blue-eyed just like her! It was also a highly inappropriate gift to give a child who thinks markers make great make-up applicators. Kirsten was covered in ink! I’m standing in the kitchen with a cloth and soap desperately trying to clean the doll all the while yelling at a three-year-old for doing something innately three year olds do. Oh, the irony of trying to make beautiful this object while spewing ugliness to someone I love beyond measure. I have
since apologized to my now grown daughter and looking back I should not have picked that battle. Some things will seem all encompassing in the moment. Take a deep breath and ask, “Will this matter in five years?”
4. Be nice.
As an English teacher I try to avoid clichés like the plague. (See what I did there!) Yet, this often-used two-word phrase packs a punch – Be nice. Be kind to other moms. As a young couple, my husband and I joined a supper club at church with other new parents. I remember going to our first meal at this large, beautiful home in a high-end neighborhood. Oh brother, what have we gotten ourselves into? Our home was modest to say the least. Looking back, I’m pretty sure I didn’t even have living room furniture! When it was our month to host I did my best to offer a clean, respectable home. In comes our guests including beautiful-house couple. As we cleared away dishes, the woman stops to admire our wedding china. This was one thing I was excited to display because I LOVE my wedding china. After looking at the pieces she smiles and says, “That’s just gorgeous!” I stammered a thank you and thought how sweet it was she offered a compliment on something in my home. It was nice. So simple but so powerful. Our children grew up together and today we are dear friends. She still lives in her beautiful home that I have now been to many times. (We, on the other hand, do not!) A deep friendship can grow from just a small word of thoughtfulness from one mom to another. Be nice.
5. Preach your truth.
Be the type of mom that can look others in the eye with honesty and dignity. You will never be perfect, but you will be persistent. You will not always be right, but you can always be righteous. You will make mistakes, but you can rectify them. Being a mom is the greatest job you will have, the sweetest title you will hold, and the most incredible union you will share with other women.