I have my mother and my grandmother to thank for making me a mom. I know that sounds impossible—but if it weren’t for their love and guidance, I’d be a sniveling mess of a mother with a child running wild in the streets. (OK, if you are my neighbor, this is the part where you stay quiet and I leave $10 in your mailbox.)
That’s because my mom and my grandmother have always been there for me. They’ve answered questions, calmed panic, taught me to be the teacher and showed me how to have fun with my son. All these things haven’t made me a great mom. I make mistakes—some huge, some small and I don’t think that’s going to stop anytime soon.
But for the most part, here’s what I’ve learned so far on my mommy journey from two women who deserve more than just one day for me to thank them.
- Motherhood is the Hardest Job You’ll Ever Love. Motherhood doesn’t come with raises, reviews or a corner office. There will be good days and there will be days so awful, you’ll wonder what possessed you to have children in the first place. On those terrible days, you’ll look into the eyes of your children…and still wonder what made you toss out the birth control pills.
- Motherhood Means Making Hard Choices. Right from the start, you have to make decisions that will affect your life and your family’s life. Do you work or do you stay home? Do you paint your child’s room neutral yellow or find out what sex he or she is before birth? Daycare? Pre-school? Home school? Public or private school? How old is old enough to watch PG-13 movies? How young is too young to listen to rap or rock? How mature should your child be before you answer the questions about sex with the truth and not just some made up stuff about a stork?
- Childhood is a Time to Make Mistakes—Or, as Mom Says, Time to Learn the Hard Way. My grandmother says that if a person goes through childhood without messing up, he or she isn’t going to be a fully-fledged adult. And mom says all of us need to make mistakes, so we can learn from them. It’s not enough to teach a child right from wrong—a child has to experience the consequences and rewards of doing right before he or she can stop doing things wrong. Frankly, I’m still working on this one.
- Never Judge Another Parent. I’ve seen parents do things I thought were stupid. Heck, as a parent, I’ve done things that were stupid. But most of the parents I know are doing their best with the tools they have. Not everyone has the same values, upbringing and life experiences. All those things, plus outside pressures, are part of parenthood. For the most part, all parents have the same goal—to teach their children to be the best adults they can be. We all have different ways of teaching that so, unless they are hurting their kids or themselves, we need to accept other parents as they are.
- Practice Forgiveness. As a parent, you’re going to mess up more than once. You’ll overreact to a small transgression, you’ll under-react to a large one. You’ll make a judgment call and be wrong. You’ll be upset and stressed and yell at your kids when they don’t deserve to be yelled at. Or your child will do something so incredibly stupid, you’ll want to hide in your bedroom and cry for days because you are convinced that this child, whom you love more than anyone or anything else on the earth, is destined to grow up to be a prison inmate or worse—a bad parent. Forgive yourself. Forgive your child. And as my grandma says—don’t worry. Tomorrow is another day. And you’ll have a brand new opportunity to mess up again.
- Don’t Take it So Seriously. Yes, it’s a serious job. You are responsible for taking a screaming, smelly creature and turning it into a responsible member of society. That’s no reason not to have fun. Go to Disneyland and ride every single ride. Go to the beach and dig tunnels in the sand. Play in the backyard fort and pretend you’re “Mommybeard, Fiercest Pirate of the Caribbean.”
Because motherhood is truly the best times and the worst times and the times that I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world. Of course, I have grandma and Mom to get me through it. And I wouldn’t trade them, either.
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