Advice To My Younger Mom
The final weekend of April is here and as I always think we should never wish days away, I am looking forward to the month of May. Gardens are being cleaned, lawns are getting prepped for their first mow of the season, tulips are starting to open and the days are slowly but surely getting warmer. For me personally, it’s one of my most favorite times of year.
And my most favorite day of the entire year is next month. May 12, 2019 is Mother's Day. And I love, love, LOVE Mother’s Day.
You see, I never wanted kids. Ever. I used to say that I was going to have a series of affairs and raise a pack of dogs. (Insert eye roll emoji) And I have to say that being a mom has completely exceeded my expectations. And fallen short of my hopes. It’s been amazing and awful, awe inspiring and devastating. And far and away is the best, worst, most beautiful, thankless job I have ever had.
With kids that are almost 20, 18 ½ and 16 ½, my time of influence with them is pretty much gone. They are their own people, with their own thoughts and their own agendas. And I look back on those younger days, on that younger mom and I think, “Oh honey. You should have done that different.”
If I only had the luxury of knowing then what I know now…there is much I would have done different. And because I’m me - why not share that wisdom with other moms out there that still have time to make an impact on their babies.
To the moms out there - I got you. I heard you. I cried, I laughed, I nodded and agreed. And know that I wrote this one for you.
And to my three reasons for waking up each day and trying again, my gratitude, my passion and purpose…Alexandra, Conor and Jackson - I also wrote this one for each of you.
20 Things I'd Tell My Younger Mom
As I said, oh there are things I would do different. Things I wouldn’t do at all and much I probably should have done. Not an end all, be all guide but some great words of advice.
Talk the Talk
Keep talking to them until you’re blue in the face. No, really. Ignore the eye rolls, have the conversations and then have them again. Even when they appear to not be listening, the words do get through.
Take all the pictures. And then take some more. And then more. Because there will come a point in time when they will want their history and one of the best ways to give them that is through pictures.
Spend more time. Put down the remote and go outside and shoot hoops. Play cards. Go for a walk. Something. Anything. There is no replacement for the time that you spend with your children and the things that you learn when spending that time together.
When you’re present, be present. Don’t just be a piece of furniture. Be tuned in to your children when you’re with them.
Progress Makes Perfect
When in doubt, take a few minutes to reflect on the progress your child has made. Progress is perfect - no matter how small the steps. A masterpiece doesn’t happen overnight.
Here and Now
Don’t wish the days away. As moms, we long for those milestones. School for them - more free time for us! Licenses and graduations and freedom. Only to find that we look back on the days of after school snacks. A little hand in ours walking to the bus stop. The excitement over learning how to read. Broken hearts that only momma can mend. Don’t rush time - it goes by fast enough as it is.
“Because I said so” is reason enough. Period. Don’t get yourself caught up in that vicious cycle of explaining your why. You don’t need to.
Earn their respect before they become teenagers. If you are a pushover and your little brats know it, you will be bulldozed when they become teens. Earn their respect and make sure they know where the line is before they hit their stride in those lovely teenage years.
Cuddles For Dayz
Cuddle with them every single chance you get.
Let them see you cry. And hurt. Struggle. Rise. Be kind. Overcome. Laugh. Act silly. Be the person you want them to become.
Gut Instinct Rules
Trust your gut. Tune into your ‘mom sense’. If something feels wrong, then it is generally wrong. We often know our children better than they know themselves and when that vibe kicks in that something isn’t right - trust it.
Eye Of The Tiger
Let them fight their own battles. I know. It’s hard. No one likes to see their child get hurt, treated unfairly, be upset. But there comes a point in time when we have to step to the side and allow them to fight the good fight themselves. Allow them to advocate for themselves.
Good and Not So Much
Don’t blame yourself for their screw ups. And don’t take credit for their shining moments. They are their own little beings with minds of their own. Let them take the bad with the bad and the good with the good - not you.
It’s okay to be disappointed in them. It’s okay to be disappointed in you. And on those days, you hug them and tell them you love them before you go to bed. With the promise that tomorrow is a new day. And then cry in your pillow.
Dr. Spock Who?
Timelines are foolish. Sure, it’s great to use them as a general ‘guide’ but kids have a way of reaching those milestones when the time is right for them. They will use the potty, get rid of the pacifier, sleep in their own bed, learn to read - all of it. Because it doesn’t happen at a certain age or based off of what the ‘expert’ says means nada. They get there, I promise.
Let Them Be Little
It is hard to be a little - figuring this big crazy world out. It’s hard to be a mom - figuring this crazy kid out in a big crazy world. Help each other out.
Failure Is Necessary
Let them fail. Because they will. Time and time again. And it is necessary in order for them to succeed.
You Scream, I Scream
Ice cream at times is perfectly acceptable for dinner. Or breakfast. And some days - BOTH!
Take Me Out To The Ballgame
You will have days where you knock it out of the park, mom style! And you will have days where you are an epic failure. And every single solitary mom in the world has those days. Learn from both of them and move on.
Cuz Every Little Thing
Every little thing - it’s gonna be alright. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow. But eventually.
Mother's Day Gifting
I am not a gift person. Unless of course it’s a puppy. Then gift away! But I do have some suggestions that Momma might like for Mother’s Day.
Leave her alone
I’m laughing to myself because it’s really one of my most favorite things. Just let me be. Let me have my coffee in silence. Let me go spend time in the garden spreading the mulch the way I want it spread. By all means ask me if I’d like help and I’ll say no thank you. Be around because we like to have you around and it makes us feel good but let her be for a couple of hours. Without asking her to make you breakfast.
Write her a letter
It is hard to be your mom. Fact. Write mom a letter and thank her for what she does for you. And actually write down those things that she does for you. A little bit of appreciation goes a long way.
Flowers, flowers, flowers
Get her a hanging basket or a gift certificate to buy flowers. I know this is something my brother does for my mom every year and she loves it. She gets to go to the flower farm and pick out all of her plants for her pots and doesn’t generally have to spend a dime.
EXACTLY what she wants
If she asks for some specific - get her EXACTLY what she asked for. If momma asks for a new garden wagon, this exact one - don’t go out and get her a yellow wheelbarrow. Get her what she asked for and not what you want to get her. Unless it’s a puppy. That is the exception.
Photo engraved jewelry
I have three pendants, one of each of the kids. I love them and have them stacked on a longer chain that layers with everything. They are inexpensive and the quality is exceptional. And it gives her a visual reminder of her hard work, her ‘why’. Keychain, pendant, for the car, endless options.
Mother's Day My World
With older kids, I don’t have the luxury of my advice. And there are days when the mistakes of my younger mom haunt me a little. Days and moments where I was less than, an epic failure. And, like moms sometimes do, we allow those moments to haunt us rather than celebrate those days where we were an incredible success.
To my Jax, I’m sorry that I haven’t always been present in the moment. I think the baby of the family sometimes gets lost in the shuffle. I have been to the least amount of your events and games of the three of you and sometimes your brother and sister are A LOT and take up my time when I’m with you. But that doesn’t mean that you’re ‘least’ in any way, shape or form in my life. I couldn’t be more proud of the man you are becoming. You chose a path that is completely your own and although this year has been a challenge, you have faced it head on and stepped up to the plate. You have always been the very definition of joy and the fact that you still hold my hand when we’re in the car - it’s a gift.
And my CJ...in so many ways I feel I’ve done you wrong, haven’t been enough. I have always said that you were the best of me and your dad and the worst of me and your dad. Stubborn and headstrong, loving and loyal. I wish I had disciplined less and not held you at times to the standard we did, forced you to rise above. It gave you incredible resiliency but at times I wonder at what cost. You are the epitome of ‘mission, men, me’ and you and I are bound by our love for our dogs and our fierce loyalty to protect what it ours - family. You will always be the second man to steal my heart - runner up to your daddy.
Oh my Lexi, what a journey it’s been figuring us out. I wish I had listened more and talked less. Trusted my gut and made life less difficult. Your tenacity is unparalleled and you have the ability to dial in and get the job done and have a nature that can only be described as kind. We have fought for one another, earned the relationship that we share. And I can tell you that there is no one else I would want in my corner other than my best girl.
And to my Mom…I am the momma I am because of you. There are days I am swallowed up by the distance in miles, especially with Dad gone. I am so proud of how you have risen, how you continue to face each day head on, how you roll with the punches as best you can. Know that I love you more than words can say.
Mommas, you’re doing a good job. Raising kids is hard and amazing, disheartening and awe inspiring. Be kind to yourself and let that garbage go. There is no perfect Mom - trust me, we all know that woman that thinks she is and she is NOT. None of us are. Love your babies when they’re lovable and pour yourself a stiff one when they’re not and send them to their rooms. Put down the phone and have a conversation. Ask the questions and then ask them again. Let them hug you with sticky hands and fall asleep in your lap. Let them fail. And rise. Tell them every day that you love them. And that every little thing - it’s gonna be alright.
And to all the littles out there reading - be good to your Mom. She is doing the very best job she can and even though she might some days be a hot mess, there are days when she is Wonder Woman too. Love her for both.
Happy Mother's Day 2019!