Written by Girl Birthday Gift
1. "When I get those handouts to write down my "parenting advice" at a baby shower, I always want to preface it by saying, please read this at two in the morning, when your sweet but fussy baby still doesn’t sleep through the night, the sound of your spouse’s REM snores make you rage blackout, and you’re trying to Google "voodoo/witchcraft guaranteed to make babies sleep" while simultaneously bouncing the guilty offender as you pace the floor because your baby KNOWS when you try to sit down for a break. Then, and only then, will these words mean anything to you as a parent: "This too shall pass, we’re all just making it up as we go along, and you’re doing a great job."
That run-on sentence has gotten me through my darkest parenting hours. That and a lot of tears. There is no secret, no magic recipe for successful parenting, but there is survival and joy in this holy and hard job.
This too shall pass.
A toddler who is a stage five clinger?
This too shall pass.
A toddler who offers to wipe your bum because curiosity trumps privacy every time?
This too shall pass.
A toddler who speaks whine so fluently it’s frightening?
This too shall pass.
It all passes. It doesn’t make it easier, it doesn’t make it go away, it just reminds you that you can do the seemingly impossible until it passes to the next seemingly impossible.
We’re all just making it up as we go along.
Truthfully, just like the generations of "know-it-all-you’re-over-thinking-it" Grandmas before us, we’re all just making it up as we go along. Mistakes and bad decisions are part of the process. Treat yourself just like you would your child when they make a mistake; forgive. Remember that love is unconditional. And chase it all down with a fruit snack. Fruit snacks forever.
You’re doing a great job.
I have a theory that all mothers want to hear, on repeat, "You’re doing a great job." Surround yourself with your mama soulmates who will say just that. You know, those ones who will dance stupidly in a Target with you when your kid successfully uses the potty for the first time. Those who will respond to every one of the dozens of pictures you send her of your kids because your mother-bias leads you to believe your kids won the clever and adorable lottery. And finally, those who will give you a resounding, "Amen!" when you text to confess that you just asked your toddler to please stop speaking for an unprecedented two minutes. (Prepare to stand in complete heart-eye emoji awe if your child actually complies and then give yourself a giant pat on the back for being such a brilliant mama.) Surround yourself with those mamas who love you and your children hard, and those who love going to the bathroom alone even harder.
Really, it’s impossible to know what parenting will be like when you’re hopped up on the all those gifts, food you didn’t have to cook, and the estrogen plentiful at a baby shower. There is no way to understand the depth of love and sacrifice you’re going to face. Parenting is magic and messy, and the reminder that "this too shall pass, we’re all just making it up as we go along, and you’re doing a great job," brings me hope, and fruit snacks, as I move along the path of imperfect parenthood." - Bekka, one of my favorite mama friends who constantly inspires me, mother of two genius and adorable toddlers.
2. "Be teachable. We don't always know what we are doing as mom, but when we mess up let that be a teaching moment. Dont' get down on yourself. Learn from your children, from your mistakes and let it be something you can add to your skill set. We know that children are forgiving, humble and absolutely loving, and we can be teachable just like them. And I think it help us get down on a level that will appreciate our children and be grateful. Gratitude is also a skill that will develop if we allow ourselves to be teachable. I have come to appreciate those moments where I can learn and grow right alongside my children." -Shelby, my beautiful and sweet mama friend, mother of a handsome brood of little toddlers and baby boys.
3. "Someone recently asked me what advice I would give to new parents. It was this; just breathe, don't listen to anybody else but yourself. You are your child's ultimate gift, you know exactly what, when and how they need you. Trust your gut, relax and have fun. Everything will be just fine." -Miko, my Instagram friend who I think is an incredible mom, mother of adorable teenage and elementary-age kids.
4. "The best parenting advice I can give is that parents work as a "team" and together they give their children love in the form of structure, instruction, values, faith, and encouragement. When parents together share these objectives there is consistency and continuity. Without it there are feelings of confusion and children flounder." -Dianne, my mother-in-law, mother of the best husband in the world and two other, equally fabulous, adult kids.
5. "For me, the best parenting advice is to take care of your marriage. Not every home has a married mother and father. I didn't have that growing up but I know that's what I wanted for my children—a strong, healthy marriage for them to benefit from. I learned that if you take the time to love and respect your spouse, your children will feel safe and literally secure in their little world. The truth is they will see how you respond to your spouse in a quarrel. And they will do the same. They will watch how you treat each other and they will mimic. They will listen how you talk about your spouse when the spouse isn't present and they will observe. They will love how you love. In the end they will ultimately do as we do, not as we say. As we love, honor and respect each other we will teach our children that marriage is valuable and a blessing, and that the family unit is ordained of God." - Lindsay, my sister-in-law, mother of bright elementary-aged kids, a happy toddler and smiley baby.
6. When your kids want to talk with you or spend time with you, you take it and cherish it! They grow SO fast!" -Darcie, my sister-in-law, mother of fantastic teenage kids.
7. "'If I had my child to raise all over again,
I’d build self esteem first, and the house later.
I’d fingerpaint more, and point the finger less.
I would do less correcting and more connecting.
I’d take my eyes off my watch, and watch with my eyes.
I would care to know less and know to care more.
I’d take more hikes and fly more kites.
I’d stop playing serious, and seriously play.
I would run through more fields and gaze at more stars.
I’d do more hugging and less tugging.
I’d see the oak tree in the acorn more often.
I would be firm less often, and affirm much more.
I’d model less about the love of power,
And more about the power of love.'
This poem by Diane Loomans puts everything in perspective and is perhaps the best thing I have ever read about being a parent. For that reason it has hung on my fridge for I don't know how many years. It is a total eye-opener, and yes, on occasion it makes me feel guilty. We all experience mom guilt though, right? Being a mom is a work in progress! Some days I do a better job than others. But I love my kids so much that I try to improve each day." -Holly, my middle sister, mother of awesome elementary-aged kids and the cutest, chubbiest baby.
8. "I think it is valuable if you can instill in your children to be happy with who they are. Not to be the best, but to do their best! It makes us all feel okay about ourselves—and that's healthy-minded!" - Ginger, my oldest sister, mother of incredibly sweet elementary-aged kids.
9. "Love your children unconditionally. Don't compare them to one another—it's not a competition." - Marie, my amazing mama, mother to EIGHT crazy, and wonderful adult children.
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