Now that I am a mother of two grown daughters, 22 and 18, I am a bit more reflective. Although, being a parent continues no matter the age, I have certainly learned one thing. Motherhood is a true gift!! Even though the tough times test you, they can also fortify and bolster you. Those challenges are when you are earning your parenting stripes as I call them. Like a decorated military veteran, each medal and ribbon represent the struggles and the triumphs. Wear them proudly and remember what it took to achieve each one. Tomorrow is a new day and a fresh start.
Another assessment: I have learned more from my daughters and my journey as a mother than what I have taught my girls. Now, I believe they wouldn’t see it that way. Still, I feel I am a better human because my experience as a parent has shaped me.
This Mother’s Day also reminded me of advice I was asked to give on my last day at my job of 21 years. I had become a bit of a matriarch in the office given younger female colleagues were starting the road of motherhood as I was reaching the milestone of empty nester. I saw myself as a mother first and a career woman second. I worked an early shift with a wakeup call of 2 am for more than 2 decades to have as much time with my daughters as possible. I felt like a full-time mom and a full-time career woman. Sleep is what I gave up to juggle both.
Here’s what came to my mind when asked, “what’s your advice as a working mother?” My simple response: Be kind to yourself! Don’t tear yourself down when things don’t go as planned or you fell short in living up to your idyllic parenting standard. Here’s one way to do that. Apologize to your children when appropriate. It is freeing to tell your children when you made a mistake or didn’t handle a situation as well as you could have. You not only feel better about yourself but provide a teaching moment for your children. It demonstrates humility, forgiveness and perseverance. Children learn by your example. Not only what you tell them or post on social media.
I also said to put your kids first and career second. That doesn’t mean not to be a dedicated employee or entrepreneur. Instead, find a career or work environment that is compatible to your family situation. Flexibility for parents will create not only loyal hard-working employees but less-stressed families.
And, enjoy each moment!! Nothing will stay as bad or as good forever. Live in each moment, the highs and the lows.
And, finally: Seek counseling when a child struggles with the difficulties of growing up. This will empower him or her to treat mental health with the same care and importance as physical wellness. Both, in tandem, can lead to a long, productive life.
I am no expert, just a mom sharing some lessons I picked up along the way. I have an amazing mentor and example: my mother. And, I am thankful for her selflessness, relentless love, never-ending encouragement, graceful strength, unwavering support and tireless commitment!