After being together for almost 19 years, my favorite girl and I have lots of history. In honor of Mother’s Day, here are a few lessons I’ve learned from being her momma.
- I am the thermostat for my house. If I have a funky attitude, everyone else will too. I try and start the day calm and pleasant because it sets the stage on how everyone else’s day will go. Even though my girl is off in college now, I still try and prepare the night before for the next day. This means doing things like gathering clothes, deciding on breakfast and packing work bags to avoid frantically searching for things the next morning when we are trying to get out of the house. This cut down on frustration and yelling and screaming, which often led to my daughter and me starting the day upset.
- Our home is a safe place. The world beats up on people enough. I strongly believe when you walk through the door of your home, you should feel valued and loved. You should feel free to be you. Your home should be a reflection of heaven, not hell. No one wants to hear they aren’t good enough or how stupid they are. Within the walls of your house you should be built up, not torn down.
- Meals don’t matter. How many meals do you actually remember growing up? My guess is you probably only remember the really good ones or the really bad ones. In the grand scheme of life, what you serve for a meal each day isn’t nearly as important as you spending time together. The fellowship is more important than the food.
- Honesty is the best policy. I don’t lie to my daughter. If she is wrong, I tell her. If she is about to walk out of the house looking crazy, I tell her. Topics that make me uncomfortable, I discuss anyway. I don’t want her getting the street version of things or trying to figure out sex or relationships through conversations with her equally unknowledgeable friends. Even with her off in college, I am determined she is not going to be one of those people who you look at and say, “Now, why didn’t that child’s momma tell her…”
- Love is a verb. Even though I tell my daughter every day I love her, it is more important that I show her. That means answering the phone when she calls to listen to her chatter about what to some may seem like silly things. It means laughing with her and sharing secrets. It means bragging about her to others when she can overhear. It means protecting her and listening. Is showing her love always convenient or fun? No. Is it always worth it? Yes.
Take the picture. I can count on one hand the number of pictures I have of me alone with my parents. I didn’t realize the value of those photos until after I lost both of my parents by the time I was 25. After having my daughter, I realized it was not just important to document my daughter’s first steps or the important milestones in her life. It’s also important to get from behind the camera and document her relationship with me. When she was a baby, I adopted the motto There is always time for pictures with my favorite girl. I don’t care if I’m looking crazy wearing sweatpants and a t-shirt with my hair all over my head, or if I feel my overweight worse, I’m taking the picture. (We took the photo I included with this story in the parking lot of Target because the sunset was amazing.) Why? Because one day those pictures will be all she has of me, and she won’t care that I was looking crazy or overweight. She will have physical proof that her momma loved her and took the time to just be present. Do yourself and your kids a favor, and take pictures with them, not just of them.
With my daughter being in college now, we’ve entered a new season of our relationship. I’m still figuring out how to parent an almost adult child. One thing I do know for sure though is at the end of the day, my presence will always mean more to her than presents ever will.