|(I’m on the right)|
(Originally published on Mother’s Day 2011)
I thought that since today is Mother’s Day, I’d let you in on a few things I’ve discovered about “mothering.” Some of these I learned by actually practicing them when I had children at home and the others are things I wish I’d been better at:
A little about myself: I’ve been married for almost 40 years (yep, all of them to the same man). We’ve been blessed with four children (a term I have to use lightly these days)–two boys and two girls, in exactly that order. All of them are safely married to people we truly love and get along with, and we are the proud grandparents of 8 granddaughters and a new one is coming later this year.
I certainly don’t pretend to have all the answers, but I do know a few things that work, as well as a couple of things I wish I’d known about when I was having babies and bringing up my family. So, in no particular order, here they are…
1. Always remember that whatever stage you are going through with your child is not going to last forever. You need to remind yourself of this when you are up at 2, 3, 4, 5 a.m. with a crying newborn or a baby that has an ear infection. You also should think about this when you have “terrible toddlers” who want to say “No!” to everything and throw occasional screaming-on-the-floor temper tantrums. Also, when your son or daughter enters the uncertain time of junior high, and the breaking away period that is known as high school. As traumatic as these may seem, if you can just say, “It’s not going to last forever…”, it helps to give it a little perspective.
While I’m on the subject, this also applies to those times when your tiny one is asleep on your chest and you have a house that needs cleaning…when you are the 911 for any injuries, hurt feelings or other traumas that are endured during childhood. These days are, in fact, so fleeting that if you don’t take time to consciously note them, they are gone and you’re left standing there wishing for some of it back…
2. Keep your SENSE of HUMOR!!! I can’t stress this one enough. Enjoy the humor that can be found all around you…your 8-month-old eating spaghetti with her raincoat on, the 2-year-old that poops in the bathtub, an 8-year-old saying something funny on purpose! If you teach your children to handle life with the ability to laugh at themselves, shake it off and go on, they will be able to keep things in the proper perspective and not be so serious about everything.
3. Read to your children. Spending this quiet time is so important. It slows down the world, gives you a special time of interaction with your child(ren) and opens their eyes to worlds they haven’t seen. The ability to read and understand starts very early…
4. Teach your children some common courtesy. They will be easier to live with and a joy to take out in public. I have to say, this is missing in so many households right now, and when these kids are unleashed on an unsuspecting world…watch out! When you’re in a store like “Hobby Lobby” with all of it’s beautiful, breakable things, and a group of 7th-8th graders are chasing each other around the store. Then there’s always the screaming child whose mom just keeps ignoring the noise while everyone else in the store or restaurant is muttering “Take that kid out of here NOW and get him straightened out.” Teach your children to let others go first in line at the church potluck and that taking no more than two cookies, etc. at a time is considered polite. Make sure that when they are in stores with you they are not touching everything in the store. My mom drilled it into us that we were to ”look but not touch” and boy, did we get it.
5. Pick your battles. If your toddler wants to dress herself for the day and wear a pink frilly tutu with her turquoise-colored pajama top and red cowboy boots, let her be creative. There are many guidelines and moral issues that are not negotiable, but before you go to war with your child over something, determine if “it’s a bridge you want to die on.” Where leniency can be allowed without physical harm or loss of moral integrity, be flexible.
I’ll post the rest tomorrow…tune in for more.