Ten Things to Tell My Daughter on Her First Mother's Day
And may she enjoy every minute of this special day!
This is my daughter’s first Mother’s Day since her son was born, so I am retiring to Mother Emeritus status and passing the day on to her. Although there is some disagreement about the source of this quote, it’s a wonderful one: “There are two things you can give your child; one is roots, the other is wings”. My daughter and most TulsaKids readers are in the crucial and all-encompassing phase of planting and nurturing deep roots. It’s been a joy to watch that process as the strong bond between my daughter and her son continue to grow. She’s an amazingly calm and competent mother, and I marvel at her energy as she works a physically and emotionally demanding job and then puts that level of energy into her son also. All moms work hard, whether they are stay-at-home mothers or women that work outside the home. I have rarely offered advice, but if there were a chance to tell her, and other new moms, a few things on Mother’s Day, this is what I’d say.
1. Don’t worry if you make a mistake, we all do. One of my more epically bad parenting episodes was the time I thought it was a good idea to have a piñata at a birthday party for four-year-olds. Halfway through the first swing of the bat, it was painfully (only mentally thank goodness) obvious pre-schoolers shouldn’t be swinging bats. It went down in family lore as one of my lamest parenting moves, and we have the pictures to prove it! I made plenty of mistakes along the way, as even the most well-intentioned parent will. As long as no one gets hurt, laugh and learn.
2. Maintain an identity besides “Callister’s mom." He’s the center of your world and that’s as it should be, but don’t forget who you are apart from being his mother. He will eventually grow up, and you don’t want to be one of those empty nesters driving a mini-van with the license tag identifying yourself as “Calsmom”. He might be a tad embarrassed at the college drop-off.
3. Remember to make marriage a priority. This is tough in the first year, but it gets easier. Although it sounds trite, plan weekly date nights and even a weekend away now and then. Your kids will be fine without you for an evening, they may even enjoy it, and every marriage needs time to be a couple and not just co-parents.
4. I feel like a fraud saying this, but don’t be afraid to ask for help. I had a very difficult time with this one and not only did I suffer from my inability to ask for help, but my children paid the price with a too-often-stressed-out mother. As a single working mom trying to take care of the house, the yard, the pets and the kids, I obviously needed help but could rarely bring myself to ask for any. Don’t make that same mistake, it’s why your mom lives a mile away!
5. Include yourself in the pictures. This advice has been given before, but it’s worth repeating. Recently I was gathering pictures for my 60th birthday, and I realized I have many pictures of me and my dad but almost no pictures of my mom and me together. I made sure I didn’t repeat that mistake when I was a mother, and I hope you will do the same. Your children will cherish those pictures someday.
6. Don’t get caught up in all the arguments about breast vs. bottle, cloth diapers vs. disposable, working moms vs. stay-at-home moms. Do what you know is right for you and your family and forego the guilt trips.
7. It’s normal not to love every day of parenting. Parenting is hard work and though the years may fly, some days seem to last forever. It’s ok not to be enthralled with every breath your child takes.
8. Along those lines I can insert one of my favorite quotes that I apply to every area of my life, “Don’t let perfection be the enemy of good." We all want to do our best, especially in parenting, but will it really affect the quality of your child’s life if you buy a birthday cake from Reasor’s instead of spending hours creating a Pinterest masterpiece? Don’t get so caught up in the pursuit of perfection that you miss the fun!
9. Play with your kids. You shouldn’t be their playmate all the time, but once in awhile drop what you’re doing and get down on the floor and enter their world. Show them that you take joy in their existence. Someone once accused me of playing too much with my kids instead of being more task oriented. His intent was an insult, but I thanked him for the compliment.
10. Love is the most important requirement for the job. Let your words and actions leave no doubt of your love for your child.
Alex and Callister at the Zoo!
Enjoy every minute of this special day and all the love and goodies that it brings. The best Mother’s Day presents I received in years past were letters my daughters wrote, precious missiles of love and affirmation I treasure dearly. For my precious daughter’s first Mother’s Day I wish for her, and every mother, unburned toast served in bed, your child’s handprints on construction paper, a fancy macaroni necklace and maybe a letter of love from your little ones. Happy Mother’s Day!