I’ve recently hit a milestone in my world of mothering that I still can’t seem to wrap my head around. On June 5, my oldest child turned 10.
I have been a mom for 10 years.
How this happened, I don’t know. One day, I am looking at my firstborn, a baby boy, knowing almost nothing about being a mom, wondering how on earth I am going to do this. Then, before I know it, 10 years have passed, and I am looking at my firstborn, a big boy, and his five younger siblings, knowing little more than I started out knowing, still wondering how on earth I am going to do this thing called parenting.
Over the past 10 years, I’d like to think that I know more that I did when I started, but I mostly feel like I’m starting at square one almost daily. And while I might not know much, I have learned a lot. Here are 10 things I have learned in my decade of being a mom.
1. Babies are fun to snuggle, but so are big kids. Just because your older children are too big to carry around doesn’t mean they’re too old to hold and snuggle. Put down the baby for a minute and hug your big kid. I promise, it will be time well spent.
2. Keep a clean house but don’t be afraid to make a mess. A clean house is wonderful, and is something all should strive for. But don’t be so worried about it that you refuse to buy Play-Doh, Kool-Aid or Legos. Messes are all part of the cleaning process and are often perfect evidence that fun just happened.
3. Potty training is never easy, but “this, too, shall pass.” Be comforted in the fact that your child will not be diapered forever.
4. Sleep is a privilege, not a right. Need I say more.
5. Stressing out never helps. When you’re feeling stressed, that is your body’s way of telling you that you’ve taken things too far. Back off, take a break, and revisit it later … or not. Nobody benefits from a stressed-out parent. Relax and enjoy the ride.
6. No child is the same, or even close to it. Even with six kids who all “came from the same mold,” each is so different. Embrace the differences, even if it means stepping out of your comfort zone. A happy boy wearing his favorite (brightly colored shoes) during family pictures beats a sad boy in flip-flops every time.
7. Talk less and listen more, even if it requires listening to a lot of crying, screaming and yelling. It will all eventually calm down if you talk less. And when it’s quiet, that’s when the magic happens.
8. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that kids are resilient. Mean words do not bounce off a child any more than they bounce off you or I. Be careful what you say and what you do to your kids. Your words and actions will shape who they are and what they think of themselves for years to come.
9. Let your kids make mistakes, but teach them that those mistakes can be made right. Pretty soon, spilled milk will turn into a failed math test, or worse. If they know how to recognize and make better things they have done wrong, then good things will happen.
10. Once you think you know it all, you will soon find that you know absolutely nothing. Stay humble and teachable, and be open to just about anything. Before you know it, you will be 10 years into this mothering thing, and still be calling your mom for advice.
Arianne Brown is a mother of six who loves running. For more articles by her, “like” her Facebook page by searching “A Mother’s Write” or visit her blogs, timetofititin.com or thestoriesofyourlife.wordpress.com.