This one is from the archives. 2012?!! My kids would have been 8 and 4.
Fast forward to today and 2022 is a big year for us – they are both graduating – one from high school and the other from middle school. We’ve managed through a pandemic and so much change and loss these past few years. It’s hard to put in words how fast this time went and how much I’ve learned and grown as a mom and as a human these past 10 years. Growth is hard and the pandemic has put a finer point on everything below. I hope it resonates with you too. Whether you are in the thick of managing littles, or your kids are teens and ready to leave the nest, there is no harder job, nor greater gift than being a mom. I am so grateful for my husband and daughters for this great gift to be a mom and my own Mom for paving the path and always lending a listening ear when things get hard. Happy Mother’s Day mamas!
Date: Mother’s Day 2012
Today is Mother’s Day and I find myself reflecting on what I’ve learned over the last 8 years as a mother. Some days, I feel like I’m really getting the hang of this whole raising humans thing, and then other days I feel everything I touch goes to shit and nothing I attempt to do for the greater family good is good enough. Motherhood is complicated. It is a churning ocean, ever changing, with stormy seas, smooth sunsets, and some killer waves. As a mother, we must learn to ride that wave, or we will most certainly be pounded by the surf.
Like life, this journey is not for the faint of heart. It is filled with self doubt, worry, judgement, situations outside of our control, and just a lot of messy, fun and FULL days. What keeps us going is the joyful moments. The sweet baby who smiles back at you for the first time. Watching our toddler as he takes his first step. Seeing our daughter hit her first home run. Sitting together on a warm, sandy beach watching the sunset together as the kids play in the salty surf. Watching those crazy, high energy human beings we created sleep like angels. All of this ever flowing, changing us. Deep down our souls are absolutely full and absolutely terrified.
Here are 10 lessons I’ve learned about life as a mother:
- We will love more than we ever thought possible. From the moment that tiny human arrives and they lay that sweet bundle of beautiful flesh in your arms, our mind is blown with the capacity to ever love something so much. Other the years, we find ourselves developing the capacity to love more, to selflessly give ourselves to others, and to be more open with your heart.
- Fear is our new best friend. With this new capacity for love, we find ourselves afraid of the “what ifs” and fear is the beast that we just can’t shake, no matter how many yoga classes we take, or glasses of wine we drink. Sadly, many of us will suffer in silence, afraid to reveal our fears to others, worrying that our fears will actualize, or we will be judged by others, and appear weak and out of control.
- Our own childhood will play like a bad 80s mix tape in our head. As we navigate the seasons of parenthood, we find that mix tape from our own childhood is playing on loop in the back of your head. It plays songs that remind us of moments in our own childhood where our own parents made mistakes, didn’t live up to our expectations, we faced disappointments, struggles, and uncertainties, but also showed up and created memories. Wonderful memories. As a result, we are triggered to over coach, over manage, and over schedule to correct the wrongs of our own upbringing. We will learn as our own children grow that no matter how hard we try, we will make our own mistakes and things will not go as planned. In the end, the goal is not perfection, but to show up and do your best, as our own parents did for us.
- Plans change. No matter how organized, put together and strategic we are, our plans will inevitably change. Some plans will work out, and others won’t. The kids will get sick the night before we leave for vacation. The car will break down on the way to that event. We will lose that job or get unexpected news. The plans we had for our career will take a back seat to family commitments. What we used to think was important to us looks different now. A friend or family member will get sick. Our marriage will fall apart. We will face a financial crisis. Even the best laid plans have unexpected twists and turns and we will feel lost without a plan, but we must trust the process and focus on the be present in the moment to regain our center.
- Comparison is the thief of joy. No longer just keeping up with the “Jones,'” social media has brought comparison to a fever pitch. As we scroll, we see that mom on Facebook who has a high power career, taking exotic vacations and rocking a bikini with three small kids hanging off her, on her way to her fifth marathon which she completes in record time. It makes us feel like a failure as we sit in a pile of laundry eating ice cream, binge watching seasons of House of Cards, scrolling our feed on a Friday night. We must recognize there is much more we do not see behind the smiling photos and scrolling feeds. Pay attention to how scrolling makes you feel.
- Learn to be Kind. To ourselves and others. Kindness is contagious. We judge others on the choices they make, how they parent, how they seem to have it all figured out, or are making a mess of everything. We gather info and gossip about “friends” like somehow it makes us feel in the know, but all it does is make the other person feel small. We must give others grace and ourselves permission to be kind to others and most importantly be kind to ourselves.
- Respect for others is everything. A simple please, thank you and giving grace to others will take you far. If there is just one value we instill in our children, it is to teach them to respect their peers, parents, teachers, and other people in positions of authority. If we just practiced this, the world would be a better place.
- Lean into our faith. No matter what GOD we believe in, or spiritual path we are walking, finding a higher power and digging into our faith is critical for the long haul. There are so many twists and turns and big struggles in life that we alone feel equipped to handle. There will be a lot of whys in our lives that will not be answered, but leaning into our faith will help us feel like we do not have to carry the heaviness around alone.
- Fostering relationships and community are critical. Seeking out and belonging to a community, whether it is a neighborhood, a work team, a church group, or music group, or sports club, community makes this life so much richer. Knowing we belong and are not alone in our struggles helps us build resilience for the long haul. Together we can do more than we can alone. Developing a strong sense of community and a common cause has the power to change our world. Nurture authentic friendships and invest in time together. Raising your babies and a glass of wine with your best gal pals who love and support you, even during a good ugly cry, makes everything better.
- We must love and let go. This may be the hardest life lessons that parenting has provided. When our babies are little, it is our job to feed and protect them. As they grow, we must sit back and let them take those first steps with the risk of falling. We must watch and wait as they take off on that bike for the first time without training wheels. We must pack their overnight bag and hug them goodbye as they take off for outdoor camp on their own for the first time away from home. We must watch them drive away as they graduate and leave for new adventures in college. Our job is to give them wings to fly.
The journey continues, but one day, I hope my girls will know how much more I have learned from them then I will ever teach them.
Happy Mother’s Day.