Appreciation is just icing on the cake

I love being a mother. I fell in love with all my children even before they were born. I loved feeling them move inside me and dreamed about what they would look like, what their personality would be, and what their future might hold.

My kids haven't changed a lot since they were little.

My kids haven’t changed a lot since they were little.

The moment my first child was born (I have four), I devoted my life to being the best mother I could, which wasn’t always easy.

Now that my children are grown and have kids of their own, it’s easy to see where I went wrong (after all, hindsight is 20/20).

If kids did come with a manual, it might look something like this:

1. Spend one-on-one time with your kids, even if you have 10.

2. Make them feel important, loved, and safe.

3. Set boundaries. When you say no, mean it.

4. Give them a daily chore, even if it’s just picking up the front room.

5. Tell them you’re proud of them.

6. Encourage them to try new things, everything, until they find something they like to do or are good at.

7. Don’t try to be their friend. You can’t be their mom and their friend at the same time.

8. Ease their fears by being open with them and answering their questions to the best of your ability.

9. Teach them manners and to respect others; the Golden Rule.

10. Set a good example. Give them someone to look up to.

11. Don’t talk bad about their fathers, or anyone for that matter.

12. Teach them forgiveness.

13. Tell them you love them every day.

14. Never put them down or say they are bad. “Words once spoke, can never be taken back.”

15. Don’t set your expectations too high for your children.

Looking over this list, I can say that some of my parenting skills may have been lacking, but we learn as we go. No one is perfect. I may not have been able to give my kids the world, but at least they knew they were loved.

This year I received a letter from my youngest daughter, Lori, that made me realize that I must have done something right.

And she gave me her permission to share part of it:

“… Having my own children made me look at my mother in a different light. Everyone wants to be a better parent than their own, do things differently. And while that is true in some aspects, I also want to be just like my mother in many ways.

Even though my mom was dealing with her own issues while I was growing up, I always felt love radiating from her. I know she was proud to have us as her children, and she would do anything for us. And I feel the same exact way about my own kids. I think every mother does. But what my mom has taught me in the last ten years has had more of an impact on me than I could ever imagine. She not only quit drinking, she changed many of her destructive habits as well. Don’t get me wrong, she’s not perfect and she knows it. And I don’t think I could deal with it if she was. But she has taught me a lot of life lessons that I want to instill in my children.

She is so caring and giving. She would do anything for her loved ones and people she cares about. She is determined and tenacious. I can see how much her self-confidence has grown as she has achieved things she probably couldn’t have imagined before. She is selfless and passionate in everything she pursues. Her heart is so genuine. She is a deep and imaginative thinker. We can talk for hours on the phone, jumping from one topic to another, and totally follow and get one another. How many people can say they have that type of connection with their mom? I feel pretty damn lucky to say I do…”

Out of all of my children, Lori is the most sensitive. We are like two peas in a pod. It’s not that I don’t love my other children any less,it’s just that Lori and I share a very special bond. I think the greatest gift I could ever have received, especially on Mother’s Day, is the gift of being appreciated. It makes being a mother that much more rewarding.

You are there for your kids from the moment they are born, teaching them to walk, to talk, kissing their owies, teaching them to tie their shoes,  and to ride the bus alone for the first time.  You’re there holding them while they cry after their first break-up, and helping them get dressed for their proms and weddings, and holding your grandchildren for the first time.

When you’re a mom, you take care of your kids because that’s just what you do. You love them unconditionally because they are a part of you. You created them and you raise them to the best of your ability. And when it’s time to let them go, well…. that’s a little easier said then done. But you never really let them go. You just make them think you do.

 

 

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