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About Mother’s Day…

This is the time when I reflect on what it means to be a mom. Sure, I’ve soaked up as much wisdom as possible from my own mom, my nana, my aunts and even friends, but you know what? Now that my kids are 20 and 22, I feel like I’ve really come a long way as a mom! Any of you who have followed my blog over the past twelve years have probably read some of my embarrassing stories about my parenting fails – but there have been successes too, they just aren’t as entertaining.

Here are some of my favorite blog entries/kid memories from days gone by. I’m soooo happy I wrote these when they happened. There are so many details I completely forgot!

Maya’s first creative project – baking a cake.
Maya outsmarts the tooth fairy.
Maya, artist in the outfield.
When we had to switch shoes at her middle school open house.
DeAngelo breaks his arm and convinces the medical staff that I’m a drunk.
DeAngelo tries to sneak out a large painting of Patrick’s to give as a secret Santa give at school.
DeAngelo’s first shave.

Those are just a few, you can click on the Mama Cray Cray tab to see all the others.

For those of you moms with younglings hanging around, here are my lessons learned from raising two kids into young adults – and also from being a daughter myself! Granted, you already know this stuff, but here goes anyway!

1. Journal the little stuff. 
It’s a given that we always take pictures of birthdays, graduations, family gatherings, etc. We scrapbook and document all the high points. But it’s everything in between that makes up the BEST memories. Pictures are nice, but if you can take the time to write or even talk into a recorder or video camera and share the gory play-by-play of the mishaps and embarrassing moments, you’ll find they are just as golden. When my kids were younger, I worked full-time at the paper, filled orders for our art business and had college at night. Add in dealing with the kids’ homework and family politics…sometimes I became very stressed out. The only thing that chilled me and made me laugh again was sitting down and writing out the crazy stuff. I always looked at it like a sitcom, lesson learned by the end and all that. Now that my kids are older, we crack up at the stories. And there is no way they can say “it didn’t happen like that!” because it’s all right here in black and white!

2. Think big picture.
Even at a small age, it’s never too early to teach your kids life skills. Good habits that will stick with them forever. Community. Family. Positivity. Being self-reliant. Our first thought is to always take care of them and do everything for them and even give in to every wish. But it’s all about balance. If you don’t each them “no” – they’ll go through life expecting everything to come easy and will have a hard time adjusting to real life. If there is something they want, but it’s kind of pricey, work together with them to raise money to buy it together. Teach them how to entertain themselves without a video game or sitting on your lap 24/7. Bring them into your world and hobbies so they will feel like they are a part of what you do, and vice versa! Give them chores, teach them to be accountable. Teach them about the power of volunteering and being kind to others. Teach them to use the phone, how to take care of a pet, Sometimes when the kids are little, it’s easy to think short term and find the quickest way to solve a problem. We think they are so young they won’t remember. They will remember! But if you strive to think of the big picture and envision them as adults, you’ll see it is worth the extra effort to be a good example.

3. Be ready for backlash and schooling on your parenting skills.
No doubt. We did it to our parents, right? Even if you think you are doing the very best Mother Teresa impersonation on a daily basis, your kids will always remember events THEIR way. Usually they are the victim. And they’ll share these stories at the Thanksgiving table in front of all your extended family. When the kids are older, they’ll recap every situation and offer their best Dr. Phil. sigh. It’s a rite-of-passage for us as parents. Personally, I think it’s payback for when we did it to our moms and dads. Just know that someday your kids will be parents too and what comes around, goes around, lol!

4. Tell yourself, “It’s just a phase,” (but keep one eye on them at all times!)
When the kids get into junior high, things get scary. They change. They want to reinvent themselves and make new friends. They begin to question EVERYTHING you do, say and stand for. They want to distance themselves and they’ll pretty much not like anything you like. You’ll inadvertently embarrass them. All I can say is to be strong, be positive, be consistent. Sometimes you’ll have to bite your lip in order to avoid chaos, other times you’ll have to meet them eye-to-eye to discuss the big stuff. But show them that no matter what, you are always there for them. God willing, they will come back to you!

5. Don’t be afraid of tough love.
Listen to your inner voice when you know you have to speak up. Don’t let small stresses fester, because they will. Think of yourself as your kids’ life coach, no one will ever teach them the way you will!It goes the other way around too, sometimes our kids are our life coaches too. Give them respect as the creative, wonderful creatures they are! There is always something to learn to be a better person!

6. The talks – let them come to you.
As they get older, the more info you’ll want about what’s happening in their lives and the less they will want to share. Have faith in your relationship, take a deep breath and let them come to you. The more you pry, the more distance it will create! It’s a fine balance of staying connected and always being around them without doing the smothering thing. There will come a time when they’ll want to reach out because they know you love them and only want the best for them.

7. Unconditional love rules!
Always be the bigger person and set the example. They aren’t perfect and neither are you. You have to have an open mind and learn from each other so you can grow together and have a good life together. Take interest in everything they do. If you can do this steadily, it will pay off in the long run.

8. Trust them.
You’ve worked so hard to be a great mom, there will come a time when you have to let go and let them fly. This is the hardest part for me, I’m still learning. Not a day goes by that I don’t say “If only I could fix that for them!” But really, it’s better to be on the sidelines to cheer them on as they embark on their own journey!

9. Accept the fact that there are some things you’ll never know about them – and that you don’t want to know. ‘Nuff said!

Sorry if this was way corny, I just felt compelled to share. My kids still have a lot of growing up to do, and now that they are almost through college – a whole new journey begins, and I’m excited about that!

Now it’s your turn to share lessons learned about raising your kids! Please do!

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