It’s the eve of my 28th Mother’s Day as a Mom. My work here is pretty much done. My two oldest offspring are married and my daughter is a mom three times over. My baby is 22. At 6’4″ with a full beard, and deep bass voice, he doesn’t look or sound much like a baby anymore. Each one has turned out to be a wonderful, hard-working, funny, intelligent human being, and for that, I’m extremely grateful. Not that I’d take much credit; there are a lot of things I’d have done differently, now that I’m a (ahem) “well-seasoned” woman of five and fifty years. Here’s what I’d like young Patti to know . . . .
- Worry less about what other people think. I could spend the rest of my life writing about this since it has been such a stumbling block for me. Instead, I’m leaving it at that.
- Teach important stuff more. I feel like most days I had all I could do to just keep everyone alive. The thought of actually teaching my kids important principles that they could look back on and say, “My mom always used to say . . . . . ” and then fill that in with some really profound concept, just didn’t happen. I have a lot of friends right now that are right in the throes of raising their kids. And they are doing such an incredible job. The things I hear them say they teach their kids . . . I never came close to that. I managed to keep everyone fairly clean, fed, clothed and loved. But no profound teachings came from my lips. I feel like I was more of a “custodian” and less of a “teacher.” Nothing wrong with custodians. I just wish I would have been a teacher.
- Whoopdie-fricken-doo if the kids are always at your house and rarely at someone else’s. When the kids were little, it seemed like the neighborhood gang ended up at our house a lot. Or even when they were really little, it seems like playdates occurred at MY house far more than at someone else’s. I would get quite severely bent out of shape that the child-sharing wasn’t perfectly even. Yup. In a perfect world, you’d watch someone else’s kids and then they’d watch yours. Even steven. Get over it. If it isn’t like that, big hairy deal. Your kid has friends to play with and you get to be a part of it. In about three minutes, they’ll be graduating from high school so just relax and enjoy this time.
- Don’t try to fix everything yourself. How are they ever going to learn how to figure out things for themselves if you fix everything for them? So they’re sad sometimes. So they don’t finish first sometimes. So maybe they lose a lot. Maybe they get into trouble and have to pay the consequences. Parents naturally want to make everything alright. Everything is not alright. People need to know how to take care of themselves. It’s called being an adult.
- God’s way is ultimately the way to go. This ties right back up there with number 1. Who cares what other people think? Doing what you know is right in God’s eyes will many a time elicit eye-rolls and tongue-clucks from others. To quote myself: Whoopdie-fricken-doo. If they don’t understand and do things another way, stick to your beliefs. Fight the feeling to “fit in.” God has entrusted those particular little people to YOU and you need to shut out what the rest of the world is telling you what is right and listen to the voice of Truth.
In closing, I’ll just add I didn’t bomb this job completely. But if I had to do it all over again (and I couldn’t, I’m just way too tired for that) I’d heed my own “older self” advice. Maybe that’s why grandmas are so smart. They practiced on their own kids and can put better skills to use on their grandchildren! Wait, did someone say grandchildren?? Here are the sweet things that call me “Maga.”
Happy Mother’s Day . . . . if you’re a mom of human kids, kids that bark or meow, or have had a hand in mothering others’ kids . . . . may you feel loved and appreciated!