Joni Hilton: Stop Worrying and Start Enjoying

photo courtesy of Joni Hilton

There are amazing, devoted, wonderful, deliberate mothers out there, and each week we’ll spotlight one of them here at The Power of Moms. Do you know a mom who deserves a little time in the spotlight? Email rachelle.price (at) powerofmoms.com. We can’t wait to meet her.

Introducing Joni Hilton

I have four children ages 20, 23, 28, and 30.  Which is impossible, because I’m only 29!

What are some unique and interesting aspects of your family or your approach to mothering? What do you do that is a little different than what seems to be the “norm”? What have you decided to prioritize in your mothering that you see as somewhat unusual? 

Not long ago I was being interviewed by a newspaper reporter who asked what one word my kids would use to describe me, so I phoned each of them. The oldest two are boys and both of them said, “Creative.” And I think that has been a hallmark of my parenting. For example, every morning when the kids were young, we’d have a “Five Minute Miracle,” a quick little science project or art explosion or word game, before they’d head off to school. It was my way of getting them to hurry along, so they wouldn’t miss “project time.” But they learned a ton from it, as well.

Another unusual thing I did was to emphasize 1) manners, and 2) work. Two things my kids learned at a very young age are that if you can’t answer the phone properly, you can’t answer the phone. And if you can read, you can do laundry.

What have you decided to NOT prioritize in your mothering that many other moms seem to think is important and worthy?

Sports!  We signed our kids up for everything, and I mean everything, including karate, fencing, golf, plus all the team sports, and not one of them really caught on. So we dropped it. We let our kids pursue their own interests instead of forcing them into the popular community mold. We learned that they haven’t missed a thing–all the “teamwork” values can be learned in other venues: drama, dance, community service, church programs, etc.

What have been your favorite parts of motherhood? How do you cultivate joy in your journey as a mother?

My favorite parts of motherhood have been watching my children blossom and become generous, kind people. Seeing that light in their eyes when they do the right thing–priceless. Were there lots of bumps along the way? Of course. But if you hang in there and keep showing them how fulfilling it is to do things for other people, they do catch on eventually. (By the way, kindness trumps the other goals I used to think were so important, such as academic prowess. Yes, that’s nice, but it doesn’t warm the heart like seeing your kid take another one aside to give him encouragement and comfort).

One way I cultivated joy in my journey as a mother was to keep a journal of all the hilarious, sweet, and amazing things they said when they were little. I’d even pull over in our car to jot down a wonderful observation or question. It was a better record of their personalities than photos.

What has surprised you about motherhood? 

That it goes on forever! You think you’ll be finished when they head off to college, but you are never done. It’s still the best job on the planet, but you are definitely in for the long haul!

What have you learned from motherhood? Please share a specific story or incident that really taught you something. 

I’ve learned to forgive more quickly, to be patient, to honor the role more, to be selfless, to let the unimportant things slide, and most of all, to cherish every second. I used one of my favorite incidents as the ending of one of my novels, in fact. It happened when my eldest, Richie, was about 7, and we were sitting on the front porch together. He said, “On my last day of being playful, I want to play with you the whole day. I sure hope it’s on a Saturday.” There’s nothing more important than making whatever sacrifices you have to, just to spend TIME together.

What have you learned about motherhood that you wished you’d known sooner and would like to pass along?

That all the things you worry about when they’re young (teething, toilet training, all the physical milestones) are unimportant and take care of themselves. Instead of worrying about our children’s progress, we should simply love them, laugh with them, pray with them, and soak up this precious sliver of time when you are their whole world, and they are yours. A wise woman of much older children than mine passed along some other good advice. She said, “When you’re wildly in love with your kids, it covers a host of parenting mistakes.” So stop worrying and start enjoying.

 

 

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Comments

  1. says

    Love Love Love this article!! What wonderful, wise advice from a Mother who has been there done that and done it well. Perfect timing for me too. Our son has been playing baseball this year and hasn’t enjoyed it much at all. I wanted him to know what its like to be on a “team” and to learn a sport etc. etc…but the fact that he hasn’t had much fun has made it all so not worth it! I feel so relieved to see that Joni learned early on that they don’t miss a thing and they should choose what interests them the most. Ahhh, relief!! :)

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