This Mother’s Day marks my 10th year of being a parent. Ten years ago, I was in my final trimester of pregnancy with my first daughter.
I was about to embark on a journey that would invigorate my life, move my soul, and challenge me more than I could have imagined.
Here are 18 of those lessons, things I know to be true at this place in time in my journey as a parent… in no particular order:
1. There is nothing like the love that comes into your life after having your children. Nothing compares to their hugs, their snuggles and words.
2. Patience is most certainly a virtue.
3. You will be thrown up on, peed on and encroached upon in your bed … repeatedly.
4. Fear of messing it all up never goes away. It is a consistent emotion that drives you towards the best version of yourself.
5. You will mess it all up on some days. It’s a given. Being kind to yourself. Showing your children you are human is not a bad thing. Apologize when you need to, it’s not weakness to do so. I take comfort in those moments after the fact because I think they are learning that perfection is not a requirement in life.
Or, so I hope. I’ll let you know for sure when I have them raised to adulthood.
6. The sex and ‘where do babies come from’ talks come far earlier than you might imagine. You’ve been warned.
7. Each and every child is different. They think differently, they react differently, and they love differently. Learn their individual love languages and the actions that help them thrive in your care. It will help them to feel valued, loved and connected to you.
8. They will make you laugh at every stage of their life. They will frustrate you to no end, at. every. stage. of. their. life. Both of these things help you grow as an individual and as a family unit. How you respond ultimately defines how your relationship will be shaped. Enjoy their silly even when it comes at inopportune times, and help them navigate their frustrations and yours with as much grace as you can muster.
9. The discussion of things like death, addiction and all those family secrets, may come much sooner than you’d like. Less is more, but being honest is best.
10. Resist the urge to compare your children with that of others. They are not defined by their accolades. And, neither are you.
11. Kids are so intuitive. They know when you are struggling with a decision, disciplinary action, or relationship in your life. It’s ok to show those moments, while being mindful of how they take it all in.
12. When you are overwhelmed with laundry, appointments, dishes and commitments outside of the home, it’s ok to pause and just be in the moment with your kids. Those things will wait. It won’t matter if you had all your laundry on lockdown ten years from now, but the time you took with them will.
13. Speaking of time, make some individual time for each child. Have something that is just for them and you – a regular date, a special book at night or a fifteen minute chat as a wrap-up of the day.
14. You will be challenged more than you could have imagined, yet you’ll rise and find your way through that time.
15. You can’t possibly know it all. You will continue to evolve as a parent, just as they will grow into their own. Be open to all of the unknowns that this brings. It will help you keep your sanity.
16. Do your best to avoid trying to keep up with the best of everything. It will only bog down your life. Your children do not need a boat load of toys and ‘things’ more than they need quality time with their parents.
17. Tune in more than you tune out. Unplug and dedicate time for real connected moments. It only takes a moment to make eye contact, and hear them. Do it. It’s a goal I set for myself daily.
18. Don’t sacrifice yourself for your kids. They will fare better if you are well physically and mentally. This also teaches them that self-care is important.
All of the above are the things I know to be true. But, admittedly, I am a work in progress. I judge myself harshly, become disconnected when I should be tuning in and ignore my own needs to meet theirs. But, I know that I have to keep trying to do better, be better and that the above things will ensure I have a strong relationship with my girls.
I feel so fortunate to be a mother of three lovely individuals. They are remarkable, strong and hilarious. They love so big and they bring so much to my everyday life. An otherwise mundane day is made better by their silly. A stressful week is alleviated by their embrace. My life is richer because I have learned so much through raising them. Ten years in and I’m still learning, and I’m pretty sure each day I’ll continue do so.
What would you add to this list? What do you know to be true when it comes to parenting?