I’ve gotten my love for writing and chronicling our lives from my mom. I remember her writing letters for me about current events in our lives, advice, and family memoirs back before blogging was a thing and she only had a pen and paper to keep her thoughts. So naturally, I asked her to be my first guest blogger. Not surprisingly: she didn’t disappoint.
My daughters are twelve, twenty, and twenty-six this year. I love saying that – try it out loud – it’s great fun.
My girls – DeeAnna, Lauren, and Anna – were born across three decades of my life. By the time our youngest, Anna, reaches the age of majority, I will have been mothering daughters for over thirty years. How time flies.
Not surprisingly, a lot has changed in those years. I’ve gone from being the youngest mother at Dee’s kindergarten orientation class (well, yeah, I was a Teen Mom before MTV made it popular), to being one of the older mothers (surely not THE oldest?) at Anna’s middle school open house this year. I’ve learned a lot, and I’m still learning.
When DeeAnna first suggested that I write on this topic, I made that squint-grimace face we all make when when we would rather not go there.
So first let me say: 1) I do NOT recommend having a baby at the age of 18; and 2) I often feel that I just now have any business raising a child; and 3) while I didn’t actually give birth to my two younger daughters, I had the great honor of becoming their step-mother when they were each very young. Lauren and Anna each have quite wonderful mothers who allow me to call them mine, and l’m forever grateful.
Also: I find it necessary to make self-deprecating, often irreverent jokes about the mistakes I’ve made along the way. As you may have guessed, 1 bio-daughter plus 2 step-daughters equals 3 marriages. I really must stop marrying men with small children. Yikes, did I say that? Apologies to my husband Donovan, who put an end to all that nonsense when we married 10 years ago.
So enough background. In answer to my Dee’s question: if the 40-something Mom-Me could somehow time-warp back 30 years and speak to the teen Mom-Me, here are the things I would love to tell her:
1. That kindergarten teacher that just spoke to you like a 5-year-old? She talks that way to EVERYONE. Seriously, I can still remember how that felt (it made the #1 spot on my list!). Chin up – your baby is going to be the teacher’s pet by the end of the first week.
2. Get over the Mommy guilt you feel over leaving your babies in day care for 10 hours each day. In 20 years, you are going to read a book called Freakonomics that statistically proves that daycare kids are no less successful, by any measure, than kids of stay-at-home moms. Yay for those who are so fortunate – but your babies will do just fine.
3. No amount of education or career success will prevent you from feeling SO INADEQUATE at times – with your child’s teachers, other parents, and your own circle of friends. But you are going to find – no matter how perfect that teacher, mother, or co-worker may seem – EVERYONE is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind and forgiving always.
4. No pressure, but… your influence trumps all other factors in your kids’ lives. Nothing – truly nothing – matters more. Not the schools they attend or the friends they make. Give them your honest guidance. Trust that your unconditional support will motivate them to do well.
5. Get yourself to church, girl! BELIEVE that you are forgiven and a loved child of God. Lift your head high and walk through that door on Sunday. And if you don’t feel welcome, try another church next week. Don’t give up. Don’t give up.
Which leads to my life mantra these day… Don’t Stop, Do More. We can all find reasons (excuses) to do less – call it work-life balance or any other trendy term. But here’s the truth – we’re all only here for a little while. I think we have an obligation to make every day count – don’t stop, do more.
PS – I really meant to include more humor, but somehow this turned so serious! Maybe next time if I’m invited to contribute again!