1. Quality time is essential. My husband and I take turns picking up our children from school, depending on his work schedule. On the days that I pick the kids up, as soon as we arrive home and walk through the door, I instruct the kids to wash their hands and I let them have playtime in their playroom, which was once my living room. Giving them playtime usually allows me to cook, wash leftover dishes from breakfast or simply shower. For a while, when I would hear my 3 year old ask, “Mommy can you come and play with me?”, I would respond in a loving tone that I couldn’t because I had a lot to do. It wasn’t until I read, “The Year of Yes” by Shonda Rhimes (which is a GREAT book), that I realized that it was okay to delay my “to do” list. Fifteen minutes means the world to her and most of the time when I play with her, it involves me sitting with her and her telling me how to play with her, “Mommy sit here”, “Hold this Barbie and let’s pretend to shop at Macy’s”. And that’s all it takes!! Usually as soon as I get in the groove of things she says “Okay Mommy, I’m done playing with you; I’m gonna go play with my sister now”. She walks away and I am left sitting alone…just me and the doll.
Fifteen minutes is all it takes to satisfy her! Of course I spend endless amounts of time throughout the evening engaging in conversation with her, but actually stopping to play with her for 15 minutes is so meaningful to her.
2. Often I’d hear my 3 year old speaking to her little sister with a soft, loving tone and I wondered where she learned that. Eventually, I realized that she learned it from me, because that is the way I speak to her. While pregnant with her I told myself that I would always speak to my children in such a way that my words and my tone would build them up. I told myself that I never wanted my children to fear me, but that I did want them to respect me. When she would ask me closed-ended questions that require a “yes” or “no” answer, I would always answer “yes, ma’am” or “no, ma’am”. Now that she is older I notice that that is how she answers me and other adults. When she does something that makes absolutely no sense to me, like last weekend when she used my brown lip liner to draw on her face, I remind myself that she has only been in this world for 3 years. I’ve been here over 35 years and there are times when I still make crazy choices. I don’t call her “dumb” or “stupid” or “slow” like I have witnessed other parents call their toddlers. Of course there are times when I have to raise my voice a few octaves, but for the most part I speak to her with a tone of correction when necessary or when necessary take away something meaningful for a few hours or a day, so that she understands there are consequences for all actions.
As an adult when I make a decision, even it’s it’s something as small as an impulse buy, I hear my mother’s voice in my head steering me in the right direction. The tone is never belittling and it is never condescending. It is always a loving tone. I take comfort in knowing that when my mother passes away that tone will remain with me until my demise. I hope one day my daughters will be able to say the same about me.
3. I am the very first example of what my daughters can be. I have to be mindful of what I say and do. My 3 year old can be heard saying words and phrases that she often hears me say: “Seriously?”, “Really?!””Are you kidding me?” or “This is ridiculous” (lol). It’s so cute to hear her use them and in the correct context, but imagine how different her vocabulary would be if I were always cursing at her or gossiping about others in her presence. Also, I love Yoga. I practice it at home and often go to yoga class. Sometimes I see her in the mirror practicing Yoga poses. Children are so impressionable. They enter this world as a blank canvas. Our jobs as parents, although today I am speaking to mothers, is to provide the blueprint that will aid in them developing their own personality and identity.
I wrote this as a word of advice to young mothers and as a reminder to myself. No matter how zany or bonkers motherhood can be, we should be grateful for these little blessings that have been entrusted in our care. No matter how big they are, no matter how tall they are, no matter what they will always be our little babies.
Happy Mother’s Day!