I’m not a mom yet but I have a pretty great one myself. (See for yourself to the right!) She’s the kind of mom that is excited to hear from me, even if it’s the fourth time in three hours I’ve called her (yes, that’s happened). I think often about becoming a mother – I’m 28 years old and have opted for a dog and cat instead of a kid. But I don’t have either the dog or cat anymore, so sometimes I wonder what that says about my motherly instincts.
The great thing about not having kids yet – well, there are a lot of great things about not having kids yet – but the one thing that stands out to me is the chance to watch all of my of-age friends and family pop ‘em out, and then piece-mealing a parenting plan for my future. I have the privilege of watching at least a dozen parenting styles, and therefore have the opportunity to think about what I do and do not want to incorporate into my own child-rearing. (Greg is involved in these conversations, don’t worry. Sometimes he starts them, if you can believe that). Now, I understand that the following list is completely in theory because I can’t practice it on any kids. But at least it’s a semblance of a plan. One of the last lines in the modern-day “Cheaper by the Dozen” film is, “When we started having kids we had a dozen theories on parenting. Now we have none.” I’m sure that’ll be me. But at least I can say I gave it my best shot, starting years before I even had a child to raise:
1. Laugh with your kids. The happiest children-slash-families I see are the ones that laugh on a very regular basis. They don’t take a whole lot too seriously, and they find a wide variety of ways to incorporate fun into their quality time together.
2. Consistency. Consistency. Consistency. Whether it’s discipline, bedtime routines, or methods of prayer: Consistency gives children structure, something to look forward to, and they learn what to do instead of what not to do, which is a fine line to walk with kids sometimes.
3. Flexibility. You have a grand plan to have a family movie night. You have the Red Box, the pizza, the ice cream, the jammies, the comfy pillows. You’re more than ready. Then one of your kids throws up. In the pizza box and all over his jammies. And somehow it’s in his hair. Be ready to change on a dime, and just roll with it.
4. Invest. A wise colleague of mine whose 3 children are all-A students and extremely well-behaved, well-mannered, and emotionally healthy, talks often about parenting being an investment, and how – just like retirement – putting forth a great deal at the front end saves much hassle and heartache later in life.
5. Advocate. Between my friends and the parents I work with at my day job, the most well-rounded and emotionally stable children I know are the ones whose parents are not afraid to fight for their children. Whether it’s because of a food allergy, a preferred teacher/class, a bullying situation, or a simple, “How can I help my child do well?”, I always think what a wonderful gift that child is receiving: absolute proof that he/she is supported.
Happy Mother’s Day to every single mom out there who puts her whole heart into her children – biological or otherwise – every day of the year.
In my eyes, You are Superheroes.
Turning into our mothers – My Savannah Morning News feature from 2008
A video tribute to my mom, to the tune of “Like My Mother Does” performed by Lauren Alaina: