My oldest son turned 18 recently.
When I was growing up, I didn’t want to be a mom. I was the oldest in an abusive family and I didn’t want to pass on dysfunction. I was opposed to the idea of being a mother and even asked my doctor about sterilization in my early 20s.
Suffice it to say, NO ONE was more surprised when I said, “Sure, WTF. Let’s do this!” and got pregnant.
It’s been the most adventurous adventure of my life. Showing up for my kids prompted me to heal at a level I never, ever would have found otherwise.
So…thank you, Lisa 2004, for saying “yes” to the invitation to pregnancy and motherhood.
Now, dear reader, here are my most precious treasures collected during 18 years of parenting. I hope you’re entertained and inspired.
- There’s thinking about something and doing it. Doing it is the only way you’ll know for sure what an experience will be like for you.
- Just when you’ve got it figured out, it will change. (Term “it” defined as “life,” including sub-topic “parenting.”)
- The stereotype of “a good mom” is limiting, outdated, and toxic AF.
- Your opinion of yourself matters more than anyone else’s, including your kids. Holding yourself in high trust and high esteem beats people pleasing every damn time. (P.S. It’s okay if your kids don’t like you all the time. Really.)
- Being a parent connects you to a singularly unique human experience. I was transformed by parenting to develop new emotions and a more expanded vision than I had before. It’s indescribable. (The parents reading this are likely nodding their heads…)
- Parenting is fun when you have your priorities right.
- Parenting is hard when you layer your own sh!t on top of your kids’ experiences.
- Parenting is expensive. Also worth every damn penny. The investment doesn’t depreciate, either. My Kid #1 goes into the world telling jokes and being the most loyal of friends. He’s got a work ethic that won’t quit. You’re freakin’ welcome, future employer, partner, grandkids. We’re fortunate to have him on the team. #TeamHumanity
- Parenting is a customized experience. Each parent-child pair is a unique match, never to be replicated. Treat that connection as a precious, rare prize and it’s amazing how you’ll experience it with intense joy and great humility.
- Kids bloom when they are unconditionally loved and accepted. They really bloom when you model loving and accepting yourself unconditionally, even while wanting to grow and improve yourself.
- Kids and parents both appreciate clear communication, including boundaries and apologies.
- Parents model relationships with their kids. Would you want your kid to replicate their relationship with you at work, in their marriage, with their own kids? If the answer is “no,” it’s the parent’s responsibility to troubleshoot and resolve.
- Kids are downloading and installing what you DO before they’re assimilating what you SAY.
- My kids are not the result of my shaping. I am not a puppet master. Children are sovereign beings. Seeing myself as a team leader instead of a sculptor has made all the difference.
- I am not my kid’s butler nor their concierge. Kids are capable of more independence and participation than they’re given credit for, even very young. When they say “I do it myself!!,” let ‘em. Note: Choosing this strategy makes things both easier and harder.
- My family is a learning organization. It’s been my role to guide my kids to become strong decision makers and problem solvers. It’s not my job to do things for them but to create opportunities for them to practice doing for themselves and others. Note: Again, choosing this strategy makes things both easier and harder.
- When you decide you’re really, really good at something…and you pair that decision with the commitment that you will be the best you can be…the results are amazing. Decisions first, results later. I decided that I would be a really good mom to these 2 humans, then I lived into that decision through the highs and lows. And I AM an amazing mother not by luck or training but through commitment and focus.
- I expect nothing from my kids in return from my mothering. The relationship they create with me as adults is theirs to decide. They are beholden to no obligations. They are not responsible for my happiness and I’m not responsible for theirs. I give generously with no strings attached. Funny how this approach has built a ferociously strong bond that I anticipate will sustain over the next decades.
What would you write on your own list of “parenting treasures”? I’d love to read yours.
And, happy birthday, my adult son. Thanks for changing my life for the better.
P.S. I invite you to fall in love with the “Less Stress, More Fun” podcast. Subscribe today! Each week’s episodes offer smart, fun ideas to reduce stress and boost your sense of playfulness.