Our second last blogger is Leslie, a lovely lady I met through the challenges and one of our Style Me Bloggers. I love her voice in her writing and was thrilled when she offered up a post last week!
When Deena first described the Mommy Diaries series and extended an invitation for her blogger buddies to participate, I was eager to write a post with some of my own “sage mothering advice”. But the more I thought about my mommy-hood, I decided that I might not have done anything in raising my two daughters, Lauren now 28 and Brennyn now 30 that would be helpful or pertinent to today’s young mother. So I dismissed the idea. Then after I read the posts written by our mutual friends, I emailed Deena to see if she might have room for one more mom on the bandwagon. And she did! So here I am.
I have always said that God gave me daughters for a reason…the reason being that I would be raising my girls pretty much on my own. For a lot of their childhood, my daughters were without a strong father figure to balance my mothering. I was kind of the mom and dad rolled into one often-exhausted, grumpy, impatient parent.
When began writing this post, I called my daughters to ask them for their opinions about the one thing they thought I did most right as their mother. I had an idea in my mind of what I thought I had done right but I was interested to see if they would say the same thing.
Lauren said that I taught them how to do things around the house. When I heard that, I was worried; as a perfectionist with obsessive compulsive disorder, I was often a real taskmaster at home. But she went on to say that I showed them how to do things that would normally have fallen to a man/husband/father to do. Climbing on the roof to fix the AC every year. Fixing things around the house. Cutting the grass, using the weed eater (which is the most confounded piece of equipment I have ever used), changing a flat tire. Although Lauren is very happily married, and not yet a mother, she is the one who assembled their IKEA furniture and hooks up all of their electronic devices. She can fix anything! So I am certain, if she has daughters, Lauren will raise them to be strong and fiercely independent.
I asked Brennyn what I did right as a mom and she replied that I was always a good listener. And that I offered good advice. When I heard that, I giggled. Lauren has said that sometimes I offer too much advice when she only needs someone to listen to her concerns not resolve them for her. It is interesting how one daughter can view things one way and the other daughter perceives things differently. Brennyn isn’t particularly handy around the house but she is always level-headed and can be very logical in an emergency. On days when I feel like my world is falling apart, Brennyn can console me and get me back on track. Now she is teaching my four-year-old granddaughter, Cady to be independent and to think for herself.
It’s interesting how my daughters came up with totally different responses to my query. To top it off, the advice I had thought to offer new mothers wasn’t either of the things my daughters said I did right! I would say I instilled a sense of responsibility in both of my babies. A strong work ethic. The desire to do their best at everything they do.
As little ones, Brennyn and Lauren had chores to do. We always had pets for which they shared most of the care. They had to make their beds, clean their rooms and bathroom, put their clean clothes away and later, do their own laundry, set the table, clean the kitchen. They both started working as soon as they were 16, so they learned to balance their time. They bought their own first cars, their gas and insurance because I didn’t have the means to do it for them. And when it came time to pay the household bills, I had the girls help me. One time I even took my paycheck out of the bank in cash and brought it home so they could put the money into each of the envelopes to pay all of our bills. Of course this was before online auto-pay. Sadly, when we got to the end of the money, we weren’t to the end of the bills. That was an eye-opening life lesson.
I am still learning how to be the best mother I can be. My own mother was strong and independent, especially when she was a young woman and now as much so at 88 years old. She was a chemist back in the 1950s when most women who worked outside the home were nurses or teachers. Mom raised my sister and me to think for ourselves and be prepared for whatever life might offer. I remember wanting to take home economics in high school and Mom said she could teach me how to cook at home. I took mechanical drawing, typing and shorthand instead. Then got to college and didn’t know how to wash my clothes.
So what is my advice to young and not-so-young mothers? Listen to your children. Offer them advice but not too much. Insist they clean their rooms. Allow them to have pets they can love and care for. Show them how to fix things and do things around the house, cooking and ironing included. Teach them to think on their feet, how to problem solve and be resilient. Let them learn to work and play. Encourage them to be their very best and do their very best. And love them every single day.
You can follow Leslie's blog here and her lovely daughter, Lauren's' blog here