Several years ago I wrote a little something about the lessons I've learned while raising my kids. It's very nostalgic to read it now because I feel like that part of my life is over. At the ages my kids are now, the raising is all but done. If they haven't gotten it by now, then I think it's too late. All in all, I think Dan and I did a pretty good job. Our kids are happy, healthy and productive, so what more can you ask for? Grandkids, that's what. But none of them are ready for that, so I will have to wait. Here is what I wrote about my mom lessons with a few little updates added:
When people ask me what my job is, I always respond, "I'm a mom!" To which they reply, "Oh, you're so lucky, you get to stay at home with your kids." The answer to that is, no, I have a place I go to every weekday to earn my living, and some would call that my job. But in reality, the most important thing I do is raise kids. So that's my job. The other is just a place I go so my kids can eat, have health insurance and go to college.
I take my job very seriously. I want to raise responsible citizens of the world. I want my kids to have a conscience and a great work ethic, compassion and understanding of their fellow earthlings. Oh yeah, and it would be nice if they were happy, too. I love my job. It's interesting, challenging and my life long passion. I've been in this job for 24 years with no plans of retiring. I will however take the promotion to grandma when it comes along; although I’m sure that won't be for some time yet. I'm looking forward to it, as with most promotions the job is easier and has more perks. Anyway, I digress. I'm not a psychologist, psychoanalyst or psychotherapist (although, my children often tell me they think I am psycho!) I'm just a mom who has learned a lot in her on-the-job training. Here are some lessons I’ve learned:
Sarah-24 years old. Lessons learned from this child: no matter how old the child is you must always listen to what they have to say. Sometimes they are right. Sometimes your children are smarter than you are and while scary, you must deal with it and never let them know you know this. Pride is a good thing. Your child may have talents you never thought possible, so if they're interested in something, let them try. There is nothing like the relationship a mother has with her first born.
Stephen- 23 years old. Lessons learned from this child: feeling guilty is a normal mothering emotion. It does not, however, mean that you ARE guilty. Getting straight A's in school is not as important as being a happy, well-rounded child (or adult, for that matter). It's ok if your 8yr old really believes he can be Batman when he grows up. Constant cartoon watching will NOT turn your child into an ax murderer. There is nothing like the relationship that a mother has with her son.
Elizabeth- 20 years old. Lessons learned from this child: Whatever you tried with the first two children will not work with the third. Constant activity only makes the mother tired, not the child. If your child is a slob, you may just have to learn to live with it. Some things are not worth fighting over. Imagination is a wonderful thing. If your child makes you laugh every day, you are a very lucky person. There is nothing like the relationship that a mother has with her last born.
Here is my personal training manual for the most important job I've ever had:
1. Read to your kids everyday. Some of the best memories I have with my kids are the times when we read together. They may become life long readers, or not, but what they gain from it is immeasurable.
2. Some things are just not worth fighting over. Who is going to care 10 years from now if the bed is not made today? Learn to pick your battles.
3. Each child is an individual. Treat them as such. What worked with one may not work with all of them. Adjust your parenting accordingly. The kids might think you aren't being fair because everyone is not "treated the same". To bad, life is not fair, and it's better they learn it from you than from their first boss.
4. Do not "fix" things for your children. If you do, then you fail to teach them the essential problem solving skills they will need when they are adults. I've always told my kids that each experience they have is a life lesson and they need to use these life lessons now so as to make the transition to adulthood that much easier.
5. Do not be your child's friend. They have enough friends. They need you to be the parent. It doesn't mean that they can't come to you with their deepest darkest secrets (they won't, but you can hope). It means you're not there to provide them with a good time. You're there to provide them with the skills to get through life. You will have lots of good times along the way and lots of not so good times. That's the breaks of being a parent.
6. Make sure they know your love is unconditional. I have a little saying that I always use on my kids when they are feeling down or put upon or just not having a great day. "No matter what happens, your Mother always loves you." Most of the time they roll their eyes when they hear it because they've heard it so much, but I know it means a lot to them. They have even turned it around and used it on me. That is a great feeling.
7. Parents are not perfect. Sometimes we make a decision that our kids think is wrong. Listen to what they have to say about it. Sometimes they're right. Also, when we act too quickly or harshly, which we do, we need to say we're sorry. We don't accept that behavior from our children, why should they accept it from us? And when you've made a mistake, admit it. I've made a lot of apologies during my tenure as Mom. It's important for kids to know that everyone makes mistakes and that you're a big enough person to admit it.
8. Let your children have opinions. From what their favorite color is when they're two to how they feel about the death penalty when they're a teenager and everything in between. Listen and discuss. You may sway them to your side, or not. But you learn so much about your child when you listen to how they feel and what they think.
9. Make sure they know you value their education. Go to parent teacher conferences even if your kid has straight A's and the teacher says you don't need to. Volunteer at school if possible. Ask your kids what they are learning about.
And last but not least........
10. There are no rules. Sometimes you just have to wing it, use your common sense and hope you get it right.