10 things I learned as a mother

10 things I learned as a mother

When you’re starting a family you read all sorts of books and articles on parenting and seek advice from experienced moms in an effort to raise happy, well-adjusted kids. No matter how much research you do though, it’s still on the job training. With my second heading off to college I can’t help but feel a bit nostalgic and reflect on how much I’ve grown along with them. The stories are endless but here are my favorite 10 lessons in no particular order.

1. Sleep is a scare commodity but early mornings are precious 

Of all the things I sacrificed after becoming a mom (like perky boobs and thigh gap), it was sleep that I missed most. No amount of coffee could replace hitting the snooze button and burrowing under the covers. It didn’t matter if my husband occasionally offered to take the morning shift, mother’s instinct kicked in where I anticipated every coo or cry seconds before it actually happened, making extra shut eye unrealistic. For a while I deceived myself with the notion that it was a temporary nuisance but there’s really no end game: crying babies became energetic toddlers who turn into over-committed-travel-team-athletes who need orange slices pronto. In a desperate attempt to capture any alone time I gradually carved out early morning as my only option, learning to savor the calm before the storm.

Even though the kids have gotten older, I still relish my morning rituals ~ coffee, prayer and exercise. There’s something about being awake before the rest of the world. Like you have a leg up on everyone else. It gives me the feeling of power I need to conquer the day. Even if it’s a false sense of bravado, I’ll take it.

2. You’re never too old to be silly

Truth be told, I don’t know if my children bring out the kid in me or if I really never matured but acting childish is pretty much my default setting: speaking in crazy voices, breaking into an impromptu dance party or snickering at inappropriate jokes are all pretty common in my house. When my kids were little it seemed like I was filling the role of good mommy playing on their level. However at some point I realized there aren’t any young kids around to justify my behavior anymore so I guess I have to own it. Or….twist it into a good thing. Life’s too short to be serious and a belly laugh does wonders to erase a bad workday and bring family together.

3. Breakfast makes a good dinner

File this under learning to let go.

9 am goal: to serve a well-balanced dinner on cute little placemats ~ with cloth napkins! ~ while each child tells me in explicit detail about their day.

6 pm reality: mommy races home from work, pours a glass of wine, quickly changes into sweats and then scours the fridge for anything edible. Go with the flow. It doesn’t matter what you serve as long as you’re around the table together.

4. You can get over a grudge quickly

Ever notice how quickly a child can forgive and forget? A simple “I’m sorry” and a lollipop later they’re back in the sandbox or on the xBox. Somewhere along the way we started taking misunderstandings as personal affronts, overthinking and over reacting to the smallest offense. In teaching my children how to get along with others I’ve stressed to not judge another person, as things aren’t always as they appear. In a world full of helicopter moms, I’ve learned the hard way to heed my own advice.

5. You like pink? I like pink!

Making friends at 5 is sooooo much easier than making friends at 50 but just as important. Sometimes all it takes is one commonality. I’ve got my “mothers of four” friends. My “book group” (aka cocktail club) friends. My “working moms” friends. And my oldest, dearest, they-know-too-much-about-me-but-love-me-anyway friends. Our girlfriends are our advisers, supporters, cheerleaders, listeners and sanity checkpoint. Play dates aren’t just for the kids.

6. Take time to cuddle.

Some days feel like a marathon from getting ready for school to getting ready for bed and all the cooking, cleaning, chauffeuring that happens in between. While homework is wrapping up, I quietly debate how to spend that final hour or two of freedom before my own bedtime. Watching a favorite TV show? Reading? Or writing? Many nights one of the kids will ask me to cuddle in bed with them, shattering my hope to unwind alone in one quick swoop. All too often I’ve failed to hide my disappointment. But I’ve learned during the tumultuous teen years that they push you away more readily than they pull you near so make cuddling a priority.

7. The simplest moments make the best memories.

The perfect day. 20 year old me: a day in the city shopping and drinking.

The perfect day. 40 year old me: family game night where no one yells and ice cream.

I will sum up this lesson as ~ names, places and things will fade but the feelings created as a family endure.

8. Hugs feel better with an extra squeeze

As adults we like to go in for the one-handed, peck on the cheek hug. A sweet gesture for sure. But kids ~ they hug like they’ll never see you again. Both hands clasped around the neck, a hard tug and long embrace. In fact, my oldest son used to say, “not done yet” whenever I would start to pull away. My children have taught me to pause, hug like you meant it and linger in the moment.

9. Macaroni necklaces are timeless.

Maybe diamonds are forever but the best things in life are free. While my children are older now, every so often I pull out the hand-painted, chipped, DIY jewelry and admire it like a badge of honor. Just don’t ask me which kid made it and how old they were. I’m not that good. Nonetheless it’s a reminder that they ~ and I ~ were once young and homemade is always more heart felt.

10. My mother was right more often than she was wrong.

Oh this is a hard one to admit. Every mom I know {at least the honest ones} have stated on more than one occasion that they grimace when they open their mouth to speak and it’s their mom’s voice that comes out. Ours is the generation that wants to be friends with our kids and exchange open, two-way dialogue. But no matter how much times change, common sense and order must prevail. “My house, my roof, my rules.” “It’s for your own good.” Someone really should just write the handbook already. I’d like to believe that it will be different with my girls and they’ll cherish bestowing my wisdom on their young ones. But given they pretty much mock my every move, my every spiel, my every short coming ~ I’m thinking history will in fact repeat itself.


4 thoughts on “10 things I learned as a mother”

  • Hi, Mary! How lovely to read. Thank you for sharing some of the insight you’ve gained over your parenting adventure. As someone who may be starting a family before too long, there are good things to think about and keep in mind! Especially taking time to hug for real, putting cuddling as a priority. 🙂 That one makes me happy just thinking about!

    • Thanks Anna! I’m so glad I found your blog. Oh how exciting to be thinking about a family. One piece of advice…find a friend with older children (if you don’t have one already) it helps so much to have someone who’s been there. Best of luck! xo

  • Nailed it. These observances are spot on, especially the one about sleep and enjoying quiet mornings to yourself. Great post, makes me appreciate all the stuff motherhood brings. 🙂

    • Thank you Keli! Blogging is like part confessional and part therapy. Such an interesting outlet. So happy I found your blog too. In reading the post about your sister, it reminded me that another really important lesson to being a mom is to say YES to playing as much as possible. The dust bunnies can wait. Children grow up much too quickly. {sigh}

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