My oldest just turned 12. Ten was an emotional year because …well, double digits… a decade of being a mom…and we were also in the very beginning of the very first lock down of this pandemic.
Each year seems to get a little bit more bittersweet. I find myself looking back and missing the tiny years. And rather than remembering the guilt I felt every single day for one reason or another, proud is what bubbles up and that’s a sweet surprise. Because here’s the thing – all of the things I think I did well, the mom guilt, the pressure, and the messiness – those are all part of why I feel proud. So without those parts, I might feel something different as I look back… and I’m pretty darn happy with feeling proud.
3 Kids. 2 Girls. 1 Boy. 12 years of motherhood.
Nearly 7 of those years nursing. And 7 years working from home with them at my feet.
Here’s what I’ve learned in 12 years of motherhood…
The more I would resist, the more the kids were out of sorts. When I would lean into what they needed and became more conscious and present with them… well, it felt like bliss and all was right with the world. I had to just trust that the things I was pushing against would work themselves out and get done. Because honestly, doing something with crying children at your feet isn’t going to be the most productive.
The moments are fleeting. Soak it up as much as you can.
Let Them Fall (but help them up)
They don’t need you to save them from every bump and bruise. Yes, avoiding illness and broken bones is preferred, but helicoptering and attempting to prevent every disaster is only going to teach them not to trust themselves… and they will think you don’t trust them either. And children want to please their parents – they look for that approval. Allow them to explore a bit and be right there for a hug when they fall.
Cultivate Independence (it’s the opposite of what you may think)
When they are babies and toddlers – it’s hard. And there is a lot of advice out there that goes against what I’m about to say. But, this is advice my mom gave me when I first became a mom and I think it’s some of the best I’ve ever received.
Let them be as dependent as they need, for as long as they need, and they will become confident and independent adults.
It’s OK To Forget About The Chores
See #1. It’s ok to let it go for a bit. It’s also ok to ask for help.
Drown Out The Noise
Learn to ignore all of the unsolicited advice and comparison. You will know what’s best for your children and your family. And it doesn’t have to be the same as everyone else. End of story.
Ask For Help
This one has always been hard for me. But, you deserve help. You don’t have to do it all on your own. Which brings me to the next one…
Take Care of Yourself
When I take care of myself, my kids feed off of that good energy. When I let my self-care, exercise, and healthy eating slide, I notice my kids’ energy is off. They are short, cranky, and demanding. Hellooooooo…. it’s because when I neglect myself, I become short, cranky, and demanding. It’s hard to realize, but our children are a constant reflection of ourselves. They will uncover our old triggers and show us where we need to grow. We just have to pay attention.
Know Your 4 Things
Decide on just 4 things that are most important to you with regard to raising your children. This helped me so much when deciding what to worry or fret over. My 4 things: Are they happy? Are they safe? Are they healthy? Are they having fun?
I came back to these questions a lot and if one was off, I knew exactly where to focus on a shift.
Write / Journal
I don’t keep a regular journal. And I was never good at keeping baby records. But, I started to write them letters on their birthdays. I recap the year and note all of the challenges, triumphs, and new things they experienced or talents they developed. 3 times each year, I’m reminded at how amazing it is to be able to witness their growth.
Trust The Process
Children are very in tune to themselves and to you. Trust that process of growth and development.
Trust Your Instincts
Trust yourself. You are so much more intelligent than you think. Maternal instincts are there – sometimes we have to really drown out the noise to hear them, but listen to those above all else.
And Have Fun With Your Children
It’s not always fun, I know that. But it can be sometimes. It’s ok to play like a kid again – your kids will love it, trust me.