No, not the kind of mom you see in a sappy, made-for-TV movie. What I mean is that I will be #momming for most of my lifetime.
You see, I had my first child at 19 years old. A girl.
Then came the second girl when I was 26.
Then a boy at 41.
Yes, by the time it is all said and done, I will have had a child under 18 in my house for forty years of my life. I’ll wait while that sinks in.
While most people my age (48) are enjoying their empty nest, I have recently started all over and have a house full of Legos, toy dinosaurs, and Minecraft everything.
In fact, I have a grandson (my eldest daughter’s son) who is only 15 months younger than my son.
And you know what? I love it.
I’ve pretty much been all the moms: the teenage mom, the mid-20’s mom, the “mature” mom (definitely my least favorite label), the single mom, the married mom, the stay-at-home mom, the working mom, etc. And I have learned many valuable lessons through all of these experiences.
Here’s what I can tell you:
First: You’re doing it right.
Unless you are blatantly mistreating your children (which I know you’re not), then you are doing a good job as a parent. If you wake up every morning and try your best to get the kids off to school, yourself together, and your job done, then you are a great mom.
It will not always be pretty! In fact, it will almost always be messy. But you are doing your best, and you are doing it right. So stop doubting yourself so much.
Second: Embrace the mess.
My oldest daughter is 28 now, and my second is 21. I remember the days when they would have their Barbies, dolls, and stuffed animals spread out all over, and how much it used to stress out my OCD brain.
While I still encourage my son to pick up his things, I have loosened up on that a bit. Because I know all too well that, someday, he will pick up his toys for the final time and never want to get them out again.
Third: Take time for your relationship.
It is so easy to fall into a pattern of only relating to each other as “Mommy” and “Daddy.” While it is truly a beautiful thing to share the love you have for these little humans with someone else who loves them just as much, it is equally important to step outside of that sometimes and call each other by your actual names.
Make date night a priority. Go to bed a half hour earlier so you have time to talk, laugh, and just be together. Have a no phone zone, where you make the effort to connect with each other. Play a game. Cook something together. Whatever. Just take the time. It’s so important. My husband and I feel a million times better about pretty much everything when we’ve had some time together.
Fourth: Try to be in the moment with your kids as much as possible.
My son loves Minecraft. He wants to show me every single thing he’s built, battled, won, discovered, and on and on it goes. Yes, it’s hard to stay engaged. And no, it’s not interesting to me. But it is everything to him.
I really try my hardest to make a concerted effort to pay attention and get excited with him. I remember back to when my younger daughter was little and I was going through a rough time in my life. I brushed her off a lot, and that has ended up being a hard thing to live with.
Plus, I know all too well now how fleeting this time is. He will be a man in what will feel like the blink of an eye.
Fifth (and most importantly): Take the time to take care of yourself.
It is not selfish. In fact, you are at your best for them when you are at your best, period. These days are precious, and I want you to look back on them as fondly as possible.
So eat right. Move your body. Take your vitamins. Love yourself.
Take care of their mama. They need her.
QUESTION: What phase of motherhood are you currently in? How have you noticed your perspective change as you’ve changed phases?
CHALLENGE: Think about this list and implement some of these practices in your own life. Make a real effort this week to speak kindly to yourself and do something to care for you.
Edited by Sharon Brown and Kimberly Price.
Image provided by the author.