from one clueless parent to another...

hi friends! it's mother's day, a bitter-sweet day for many. for those who yearn for a child, have lost a child, or have lost their own mother, or maybe your mother was never in the picture or just plain awful - for those people, know that my heart breaks for you today and i prayed for you before sitting down to write this.

as a mother of three daughters, i have few tidbits to share with you. i often get asked for tips in raising kids/teens and let me tell you, i still have very little idea as to what the heck i'm doing, but i do know a few things i've learned along the way. some i learned the hard way, sadly, and i'm still learning and always will be. in case you did not know, my daughters are 21, 16, and 14 years old. they are incredible young women, i mean incredible, you guys. each has her own personality and strengths {of course} and each are continually teaching me more about life and what it means to be a better, kinder, and more compassionate human being. yes, i started my child-bearing years young. my husband and i had our first daughter when we were teenagers and i wish i knew then what i know now, for her benefit especially, but here's what i do know and i think these are things that can be beneficial in any relationship. so here we go:

- be your child's biggest cheerleader and advocate, yet the most honest {with grace} person in their life. they will thank you later. like that time my mom let me know that i had over plucked my brows, and even though it made me furious at the time, i took a one look at a photo of myself and knew right there in my 20 year old mind that she was indeed right...again. however, she always showed up and stood up for me at a moment's notice and still does.

- say yes as much as possible. i wish i had embraced this one more in my early motherhood days, but once i heard i should say yes so that when i had to say no, it wasn't the only word my children heard from me, and it counted when i did/do. why do we so often say no and to silly things? i get we should say no to the dangerous or wrong things, but let's aim to say yes more, and ask yourself, why am i saying no? often when i ask myself this question i realize i'm just being silly or selfish.

- remind your children and often that no matter what - you will love them. a mother's love should be unconditional, but sometimes we forget to remind our children that it is. i try to tell my kids every now and then - hey, jenée/michaela/téa, i love you no matter what. nothing you do...NOTHING...can ever make me stop loving you. i mean it too.

- allow for mistakes, after all, i mess up more often than i would care to admit. so, give them grace. this doesn't mean you don't call them out, discuss, or give consequences. just remember, they too are human.

- speaking of calling out - allow your kids to call you out when you mess up. this should be done with respect, of course, just as it should be done with respect when you call them out too, but those beautiful offspring see us at our worst, don't they?!? case in point - about a year ago, my daughters and i went to lunch at one of our favorite local places and long story short, i was hangry and quite rude when the girl who waited on us walked away. mind you, i was nice to her face, but like a mean girl, the snarky comments flowed out of my mouth when she wasn't in sight. i didn't say anything horrible, per se, but i commented on how long she was taking and that is should not be that complicated. yikes, how embarrassing it is to admit this to all of you, but it's the plain, ugly truth. one of my daughter's {respectfully} looked at me and said, "mom, you're being rude. she's just trying to do her job." ouch. our natural instinct is to become defensive when called out, but when i saw the disappointment in her eyes, it was like i was punched in the gut. she was right. i was wrong and i was embarrassed, and i should have been, mind you, but my goodness, you guys - i was proud! after all, aren't we constantly teaching our kids to be kind, to stand up for the underdog, to not join in with the mean girls? well, guess what? it starts with us. we are their first and prime example on this earth of how to treat others.

- when you're wrong, admit it, then apologize, and then ask for forgiveness. mean it too. these three, not so simple steps, will make all of the difference in your relationship with your children and anyone else, really. just remember, to say sorry means you will do all you can to not keep repeating the same behavior. a humble heart can be so healing.

- speak well of your children. again, be honest, of course, but build them up, not only to them, but to others. okay, so there's a fine line here. no one likes that mom. we all know which one, the one who can produce eye rolls in any crowd as soon as she mentions her children because it's all she does. bragging is annoying, but speaking well of someone is different. bragging will do them a disservice on so many levels. i mean, if they score a home run, then yes feel free to post that #mombrag. there are appropriate times to brag about those kids, but you know what i'm talking about. if you speak well of your children, others will too, and let's face it, when someone says something nice about our character, we want to live it out. now, does that mean we can't ever vent? not at all! in fact, some of my favorite people are the ones that say, oh my gosh, my kid is being a complete {you fill in the bleeping blank}. ;) that's real life, people. just be careful not tear your kid down or anyone, for that matter, but it's definitely okay to be real. just remember, you actually have the power to show others how to perceive and respect your children. they need to know you're on their team, no matter their age. they have enough people and things against them, be for them.

- just show up, where ever that is - even if it's in their bedroom to listen to music {even if their music makes you cringe} , a quick starbucks date, or simply on the floor to play dinosaurs. just be there. put your phone away. i am so thankful social media didn't exist when my girls were small, but distractions aren't a thing of the modern world, so i had to {and have to} be intentional in being present. repeat after me, i'm saying it aloud for myself - be present.

- last, and here's some of my favorite parenting advice said by sarah braverman {a character from one of my favorite television shows parenthood},

"no, you don't give them space. just when they tell you they don't need you anymore is exactly when they need you the most. you have to fight it. you show up. it's when they're pushing you away, telling you they know better, that's when you have to show up." yessss, sarah! that holds true at any age by the way.

remember, it really does take a village. parenting is harrrdddd. that's why i love it when i get messages asking for advice, it shows such a humble heart and a parent that really cares and loves their child. we can't do it alone, so don't try. ask those who have gone before you, and walk through it with someone who is there beside you. remember, children are gifts, ones we do not deserve, so treat them like it and invest in them as though this world depends on it, because it does.



"children are not a distraction from work. they are the most important work.: - c.s. lewis