Being a good mother is hard work. The hours are long. At times, it can be thankless. It comes with guilt, sadness, fear, happiness, joy and many other emotions. It certainly isn't an easy job, but i'd argue it's the most important one you can have.
I have had many titles in my career -- blogger, entrepreneur and senior vice president, to name a few -- but the one I love most is "Mom." I can't believe my daughter Amber is almost 20 years old. Where did the years go? Like many moms, I've have asked myself many times if I was a good parent, if I did everything right. The truth is, sometimes we do and sometimes we don't. As parents, all we can do is guide, support and love our children unconditionally. There is no ideal recipe or perfect formula. The only one I know that has worked for me is unconditional love. My mom approached parenting the same way when we were growing up; It didn't matter how mischievous we were sometimes, she always would win us over and get the truth out of us through love. When she died at 42 years old, I knew how she felt about me and my brothers and sister. She loved us, and she told us that at every single opportunity she had. She never waited for a special occasion; every moment with her children in her short life was an occasion.
I often remember telling her that I wish she didn't treat me like a baby. Sound familiar? I never understood that when I was younger, but what I failed to recognize is that I was a baby. I was her baby, and I always would be. How old I was didn't matter and it never would. When Amber was little and fell off her bike, I hurt too. When she got an A on a spelling test, I was so excited and proud -- I nearly cried. When she was old enough to have her heart broken, I would have done anything to ease her pain. When she fell in love again, I was even happier just to see her smile again. I get it now -- I am officially my mother, and I love every second of it.
Since there are no manuals on the business of being a mom, I am sharing a few of my favorite tips to lessen the load, ease the stress and make the joy of being a mom, even more joyful:
1. Balance is key. You can't do everything all of the time. Carefully select your commitments as a mom, especially if you also work outside the home. When you are stretched too thin, you won't feel successful at either job, and that means that sometimes you have to say "no" in order to succeed. But, when you say "yes" to a commitment to your child, follow through with it and keep your word.
2. Create a schedule -- and stick to it! When you know which days and times are specifically set aside for mom time, e.g. hosting play dates, going shopping with your daughter or driving the carpool, you know what to expect and you can plan your other responsibilities accordingly. Sure, surprises will come up every once in a while, but do your best to stick to a schedule. We had special days for Amber, mommy and daddy as well as family days. We always sat together at dinner when we were all home, it was a family tradition and we made that routine work.
3. Create a space just for you. If you have an extra bedroom, office or even a small nook or corner, give yourself the undivided attention YOU deserve. You will be a better mom when you take time for yourself. It may mean curling up with a magazine and a glass of wine for a half hour or sneaking out for a quick manicure. Whatever it is, even setting aside 30 minutes a day can recharge your batteries.
4. Love, hug and even more love. We have heard it before, but it is true and it works. There is nothing my daughter and I haven't been able to tell each other over the years because she is not afraid to confide in me and knows how much she is loved. I tell her 50 times a day, every moment I can, every time we speak, that I love her. She tells me the exact same thing 50 times a day and I can't hear it enough. The voice is not a little as it once was, but it doesn't matter, she will always be my little girl and nothing feels better than the words "I love you mom".
With Mothers Day approaching, I am so grateful for my title of "MOM". I often remind myself how lucky I am to have had a mother who was so free and giving with the words, "I love you". The confidence and security those three big words have given to me has made all the difference in my life. Call it cliché if you wish, but the truth is, all we need is love.
Happy Mothers Day to all the beautiful moms everywhere.