I started to write a post about all the mothers in my life. My mother, my grandmothers, my sisters in law, my aunts, my friends, family friends, mothers I read about….
I just couldn’t pull it off. I’ll be honest with you. It was too long, too wordy, too full of stuff. There is just too much I could say.
I have been blessed with wonderful women in my life, all my life. I feel like I have learned a great deal from many many different sources about being a mom.
So, I decided to share with you some of the things I feel like I have learned about being a mom from these wonderful women. I am still trying to follow the examples, in many cases – but here is some of what I have learned over the years. In no particular order.
1. Moms should be there for you no matter what. When you are right they should be there to stand up for you. When you are wrong, they should be there to tell you that yes, you are wrong – and maybe it hurts, but everyone is wrong sometimes. When you fail they should be there to pick you up and when you succeed they should be there to bask in your happiness. When what you really need is a kick in the butt, they should be there for that too.
2. Moms should realize you are your own person. You are not an extension of them, you have your own personality and your own mind. Right from the start. Moms have no more control over that than they do the cycles of the moon. BUT, they can encourage the strengths and guide the “weaknesses”.
3. Moms should try to be what their children need on a case by case basis. Sure, consistency is important. But so is realizing that sometimes what a kid needs isn’t to hear the same thing for the 1000th time. Sometimes they need to hear something new – or something different – or something in a different way.
4. Moms should love you with all their heart and soul, and still be able to let go of you when they need to. I asked my mother at my baby brother’s college graduation if she was sad. She said “no, why would I be sad? it is a wonderful day in his life, he worked hard for this. He has worked hard all his life and it got him here. I want to celebrate with him.” I think this is important. I didn’t cry the first day of preschool. I was happy he was moving toward the next big step in his life. With confidence and happiness. Seeing me cry would only confuse him. I saw a mother last year who was bawling her eyes out as she said goodbye and was upset the child ran off to play and didn’t cling to her or ask her to stay. Why do we want them to need us so much? It is only for our comfort – not theirs.
5. Moms should nurture the things we do well, and encourage the things we don’t. No one is perfect at any one thing – everything takes practice and diligence to become terrific at. You can’t learn to play basketball, read, do calculus or play piano over night. Encouraging perseverance is one of the best things we can do for our children.
6. Moms should be willing to try new things. We always encourage our children to do this, but how many of us model this?
7. Moms shouldn’t be perfect. No one is perfect – trying to make our children believe we are will only result in their disappointment of themselves. If you say “woops, I messed up. what can I do to fix it?” A child learns it is ok to make mistakes and also to problem solve and try to fix those mistakes.
8. Moms should be themselves. I knew this wonderful mom as a child. She spoke so kindly and sweetly to her children. Never raised her voice. Never changed her tone. She talked like this to everyone. When I became a mom I had this idea in my mind that I would be like that. It was soon dashed. When my son was about aged 2 I realized I just wasn’t that type of person. Never had been, never will be. I try not to raise my voice too much. I try not to say things that will hurt him. But I am not the sweetest talker in the world either. I say “DUDE, how many times did I ask you to get in the car?” or “hey, what’s going on in here???” a lot. I also try to be myself – sometimes the edited version – but myself at my core. It shows him it’s OK to be who you are.
9. Moms should chillax a little. Seriously. Is it going to matter a week from today that he spilled his apple juice all over the floor? Or that he dug up your flowers, or that he brought a frog into the house? No. It’s not. If it isn’t going to matter in the grand scheme of things, try to take a deep breath, tell him (or remind him) what the rules are regarding this issue, and move on. Don’t freak out. There are many crises in life – much worse than spaghetti marks on the ceiling. Like oil spills, and war, and famine, and child abuse. Freak out over those things if you must freak out.
10. Moms should teach their children that their possibilities are endless. Imagine, if all children knew that life is what you make of it – truly. That you can be happy no matter what happens around you in your life. That you can become what you want – or at least whom you want to be. And that you are great just how you are. Imagine how wonderful that would be.
11. Moms should teach their children it is more important to give than receive. It is more important to be kind than to be right. It is more important to help others than to get ahead. It is more important to love with all your heart and soul than to be afraid of being hurt. It is more important to have compassion than worldly goods. Moms should teach their children to listen to the trees and the mountains and the lakes. To connect with something bigger than themselves. Moms should teach their children to dream. To dream big and not be afraid of those dreams. And moms should teach their children to give. Give give give – compassion, kindness, time, love. Give. In giving we receive more than we can imagine.
Thank you to all the moms in my life who have made all the differences. Who watched me fall apart and come back and find my own strength. Who knew I could do it, or never knew I did it, but whose voices were in me somewhere helping me. Thank you all for being there. In my heart and in person and in the back of my mind. And thank you to those who have already moved on from this life. You, perhaps, give me the most strength.
And thank you to my mom – who never gives up on me, who never lets me down, who never lets me go, who watched me in pain so many times without turning away because she wanted to take some of it – or at least try to help me through it. And who cared for my own family when I needed it most. I love you more than I can express in words. I know what you gave for me. And I can never give it back. But I do thank you for it.