For the past 5 1/2 years I've been a mother. I love my job (usually). I'm not always good at it. Sometimes I'm impatient. Sometimes I let them eat cookies 10 minutes before dinner will be on the table. Sometimes I count down the hours (and minutes, and seconds...) until Joe comes home from work. But for the most part I'm okay at this motherhood thing. And almost all of the good things I do for my kids, I learned from my mom.
This is my mama, Jan. She raised 6 kids (almost. two are still at home-- the verdict is still out on them) as well as providing a foster home for developmentally disabled men for almost 20 years. She also ran an in-home daycare so she could be at home with us while she put my dad through graduate school. And she's currently the world's best nursery teacher. That adds up to a whole lot of mothering. I was so lucky to be able to learn motherhood at the knee of someone who was (IS) so thoroughly good at it. Here's a short list of the lessons I learned:
Don't sweat the small stuff. Most problems/concerns with kids will eventually resolve themselves with patience and a healthy dose of practicality. Stuffy noses and tummy bugs usually heal on their own; behavior issues are usually grown out of; picky eaters won't starve; and siblings usually grow up to like (or at least tolerate) each other. Stress and worry are rarely productive. Maternal instinct should be trusted.
Childhood should be magical. Kids see magic in everything: sprouting seeds, rising bread dough, sunsets, bugs, flecks of glittering mica in the sidewalk, etc. A wise mother encourages this and joins right in. A wise mother nurtures imagination.
Beauty feeds the soul. A home filled with simple beauty in all its forms (good music and the laughter of children, the scent of baking bread or clean laundry, cheerful colors, etc.) is a happy and peaceful place to be.
Family dinners are important. My mom is a wonderful cook. Wonderful. I could write a list longer than my arm of all the delicious food my mom makes. But the food wasn't the most important part of our regular family dinners-- it was the stories shared, the jokes laughed at (crass as they may have been), and the companionship. And man, that food was good.
Creativity can equal sanity. My mom seems to have a never-ending list of creative talents. She's an incredible seamstress, and an amazing florist. She can paint, embroider, cross-stitch, build cool stuff (she never met a power tool she didn't love...), and grow beautiful gardens. Motherhood can be intense, and having a crafty project or two going is sometimes the only thing keeps me from losing my mind.
Kids should be allowed to get dirty once in a while (or in Daniel's case-- all the time). Life can be messy. And really experiencing life occasionally requires getting messy. So, peanut butter smudged faces, sweaty hair, and dirt-caked bodies are signs of kids who are really living.
I used to worry about turning into my mom someday. Now I'm realizing that's not such a bad thing. Happy Mother's Day!