A Letter to Moms of Little Ones

A letter to momslittle ones b:w

Disclaimer for not-so-new-moms: My guess is that for every one of us who have been moms for more than 10 years, we’d all have a list of lessons learned. I decided to reflect on what mine would be. I hope you’ll share this with the newer moms in your life. 

Dear Mom of Little Ones,

I swear yesterday I was in your shoes: surviving on little sleep with a newborn, potty training a very stubborn preschooler, watching him ride off on the bus to kindergarten through blurry, tear-filled eyes. Two months ago, I helped that same son register for high school. How in the world did that happen?

In the blink of an eye, I tell you.

I only have four years left until my oldest is a certified voting American heading off to college. Everyone always told me they ‘grow up way too fast.’ The reality? It’s true. Life can feel like a blur sometimes. But here’s what they don’t tell you, or rather, the lessons I’m learning along the way.

1) Give yourself grace.

You will never be a perfect mom. There, I said it. There is no such thing. As hard as you’ll try, you will make mistakes — and make lots of them. There will be times you will feel like an utter failure, the worst mom on the planet. But always remember, you {and only you} were chosen to be your child’s mom. Handpicked by the Creator of the universe. You can do this. And on those days when you feel you can’t, tomorrow is another day.

2) Your child is not perfect.

Just like you aren’t perfect, neither is your little one. He is human. Just like you, he will make mistakes. You will have so many dreams for him even before he’s born. Maybe he’ll become the class valedictorian, an NHL player or the President of the United States. If not, don’t set your expectations so high that he can’t meet them. I learned this the hard way. I realized I was placing my need for perfectionism on my child, who was totally different from me. Your children will have their own set of talents and gifts. Let them have choices and learn who they are. They may look like you, but they are not you. Your child will not be the best at everything. It’s ok. God has a purpose and a plan for them, I promise.

3) Say ‘I’m sorry.’

Two very simple, yet powerful words. This goes along with numbers 1 and 2. The best example you can be for your child is an honest one. I have had my share of parenting failures. I have never felt more humbled, raw and loved than when I looked my child in the eye and asked for forgiveness. They need to see you modeling this behavior.

4) Let your kids be kids.

There are countless activities and opportunities out there for little Johnny, but in the end you only have 24 hours in a day. Instead of buying into the idea that you must enroll your child in every activity under the sun (plus drive them to and from such activities), give him time to just be a kid. Play time grows their independence, their imagination and their desire to figure out what they really like to do. Plus, it’s free! Their schedules will one day be so dictated, they don’t need to join the rat race when they’re young, too.

5) Don’t wish the seasons away.

There were so many times, especially when my kids were babies, that I was in survival mode. I couldn’t wait until they fed themselves, or walked, transitioned out of the crib, or I had the day to myself when they went off to school. Everybody will tell you time flies, because it does. In the blink of an eye, your kindergartener will be heading off to college. I can honestly say I love the season my kids are in — early teens and tweens. We can travel easily, they can make their own breakfasts and clean their own rooms, and they are just plain fun people to hang out with. But I didn’t always love each season. In fact, I’ll admit that the baby stage was definitely my least favorite, so I couldn’t wait to move beyond it. Now I only have photos and videos of those precious days. The saying, each day is a gift, is totally true. You will not get yesterday back. But today is a gift. Live in each moment — the exciting and the mundane. Be grateful for it.

6) Enjoy time away.

I know a mom who has never left her kids overnight — and her oldest is 13. Now hear me, sweet mom, those children need to know their lives are not the center of yours. That’s way too much pressure for them. You are not just a mom. You were a person before you had littles running around. You have other important roles, such as a wife, a friend, an employee, a sister, a daughter. The best thing you can do as a mom is to get away for a girls’ weekend, an overnight, or trip with your hubby — alone. Your kids will develop stronger relationships with dad, grandma and grandpa, or a favorite aunt and uncle, while you get time to be refreshed. And the best part is everyone is excited when you come home!

7) Love your spouse well.

If you are married, your most important relationship is to your husband, not your kids. If you love your spouse, your kids will also feel loved. It’s so easy to focus on our kids because they are so dependent on us. And I’ll admit, because I’m a task-driven person, compassion and attention toward my husband often comes secondary to my need to get things done. My husband selflessly puts all of our needs before his own, and he jokes that he’s a third-class citizen in our house. But it’s no joke. He should feel valued and loved. And that’s my goal. When I was a youngster, I’d often catch my parents kissing in the kitchen. My brothers and I would gag and roll our eyes, but inside, we knew they loved each other and we were a family forever. Next year, my parents will be married 50 years — and they still kiss in front of us and hold hands. I want to be like them. And I want my kids to gag, roll their eyes — and know we’re a forever family.

8) Let them fail.

This will always be hard. As their mom, I want my kids to do everything well, I don’t want them to get hurt. When they’re learning to walk, and about to fall down, you want to swoop right in and catch them, right? Life is like that. It’s hard to see them get a bad grade, not get invited to a party, or not make a team. But it’s in those moments when perseverance, courage, wisdom and learning prevail. When they’re little, the failures — and consequences — are small. If they learn from their choices and mistakes at a young age, they’ll be more prepared for the bigger decisions ahead of them.

9) Pray for them.

Every day. If you don’t, who will? The Evil One is out there, and he’s a sly one. 1 Peter 5:8 says “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” My son was exactly two months old the day two airplanes ran into the Twin Towers in New York City on the infamous morning of 9/11. I remember placing him in his crib for a nap, pouring my saddened soul out to God, wondering what kind of world my baby was going to grow up in. The enemy, who I deem the father of lies, wants my kids. But prayer is the shield that prevents him from devouring them. Every morning, before my kids head out for the bus, I pray over them. I especially love when my soon-to-be high schooler asks me to pray for him during a specific time of the day (while he is taking a test, for example). I can’t think of anything more important to do in my day. There is power in prayer. Don’t leave your kids unarmed and ready to be devoured.

10) Have fun.

Be crazy. Laugh a lot. Wrestle. Play together. I love that my kids think I’m crazy. Who wants a boring mom, right?

Happy Mother’s Day to all of you on the motherhood trail…

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