Advice from the rear-view mirror

Every day I hear young moms beating themselves up because they have a hard time living up to expectations – both their own and those of others.  I want so badly to hug every one of them, and assure them that it’s going to be alright, that they’re going through the hardest part of motherhood, and that this, too, will pass.

I refrain from offering too much advice in person (usually out of fear of being hit with a sippy cup), but since that part of my life is behind me and I now have the clarity of hindsight, I want to share some hard-earned wisdom with all of you “younger versions” of me.

1.  Cut yourself some slack.  We all yell.  Our houses aren’t as clean as we’d like them to be.  We occasionally send our kids to bed without a bath . The list goes on.  You don’t have to be a perfect mom to raise good kids.  Last week I posted a photo on Facebook about positive parenting, and I was surprised at some of the reactions.  A few readers interpreted it to mean we have to do awesome things every minute of the day.  But that’s not the reality of parenting – every day is not a good day, full of rainbows and glitter.  Try to find moments of joy amid the chaos, but don’t expect to be able to maintain storybook standards all the time.  Work hard for your kids, but don’t expect Utopia.  It doesn’t exist.

2.  Your kids aren’t perfect.  They don’t always clean their rooms when you ask.  They tell lies to get out of trouble.  They hit each other.  Expect them to test their boundaries, because that’s part of growing up.  It isn’t a failure on your part.  It means they’re normal.

3.  Teach them right from wrong.  In our culture of acceptance and political correctness, we’ve gotten away from using terms like right and wrong. But we need to bring them back.  Children need to know that everything is not OK.

4.  Explain why.  I’m not a big fan of the phrase “because I said so.”  While its use is sometimes necessary, it shouldn’t be a standard response.  Take the time to explain the “why.”  You have to teach them the reason behind decisions, because someday they’ll be making them on their own.

5.  Let them fail.  We knew a family from school whose son was “over-praised.”  His baseball skills were fussed over like he was A-Rod, and if he made a bad grade, his mother would march in and demand that the teacher let him re-take the test.  The Trailblazer once said about his friend, “One day he’s going to realize that he’s not the best at everything. And he’s going to freak out.”  The best character-building lessons in life are learned through failure.

6.  Look forward, not back.  When mistakes are made (by you and them), don’t dwell on it.  Extract the lesson, throw out the pain, and move forward.  Nothing is gained by rehashing the sins of the past once the lesson has been learned.  This becomes more important in the teenage years than you can ever imagine.

7. Take care of yourself.  Get enough sleep.  Eat right.   Exercise.  As we all know from airplane safety drills, our own oxygen masks must be fastened securely before we can help them.   But be realistic about it.  (See item #1.)  It’s easy for that to become another place where feel inadequate.

One day, you’ll wake up and your baby will be 11 years old.  You’ll be able to actually enjoy quiet, instead of fearing it.  You’ll be able to go to the grocery store alone.  You’ll know that all the very hard work you put in while they were little is paying off.

When that day comes, go find a young mommy and give her a hug, and tell her everything’s gonna be alright.


30 thoughts on “Advice from the rear-view mirror

  1. Pingback: My Kids Say, “Mom You Are Mean!”–How a Parent’s Shield is Love |

    1. Lisha Post author

      I’m so glad you were able to take something away with you. Learning to cut yourself some slack is a big step. But if I can do it, you can, too. 🙂

  2. Deborah the Closet Monster

    This. All of it.

    I loved this post the first time around, but I think I love it even more the second time.

  3. Sunny

    So well written…Thank you!! All moms should read this weekly!! It is a great reminder. I need #6 this week…lol Thank you and please keep it up. We need good reminder and things that make us smile and reflect. 😀

    1. Lisha Post author

      #6 is probably the most important one. It’s really easy to get caught up in rehashing the past. Not long ago my oldest son (now 19) was talking about a mistake he’s made, and I asked him how he planned to handle it. He smiled and said “Look forward, not back.”

      My heart leaped. 🙂

      1. Sunny

        I pray for moments like that! My oldest (18 yrs) daughter moved out of state and stays super busy so we don’t get to talk much. When she does have time and news we skype so its like we are not far.

        Thank you again for all of your encouragement and inspiration!!

  4. Pingback: My Kids Say, “Mom You Are Mean!”–How a Parent’s Shield is Love | I Choose Happy Now

  5. Shannon Pruitt from 'Mynewfavoriteday'

    This is so lovely. I am a little ones mom, but we have been through the trenches so perhaps perspective has been my greatest ally (that and I had kids later so that might help too). I love this list and it is an all too important reminder that time flies by and suddenly what used to be is no more and so relish in the moments and focus on what you can do rather than what you or what you think everyone else thinks you should do:) Have a great day!


    This post made me smile! I am approaching the double digits with my son and a daughter who thinks she’s a teenager at the ripe age of 7. It’s a new big kid chapter before the teenage years when I know I will need lots of hair dye and wine..

  7. Pingback: My Kids Say, “Mom You Are Mean!”–How a Parent’s Shield is Love |

  8. Tambi

    What you wrote tugged at my heartstrings a bit. With all of my kids out of the house I am enjoying my newfound freedom yet every Sunday I wish, just for a moment, that I could be that overwhelmed mom just for a little while.

  9. Heather Holbrook

    Well said! I am tearing up. I have to agree that the tiny tot stage is definitely the hardest. I’ll remember to try to give young moms a hug – or at the very least a supportive, “you’re doing great, you’re going to make it, it will be alright,” smile (I live in Minnesota, so some people would absolutely freak out if I actually touched them: )! Thanks again for sharing.

  10. Christine

    What a wonderful post! I try to do most of these, but the one I mess up the most is looking forward and not back. I’m bookmarking this one, because I know I’ll be referring to it on the days when I feel like a real failure!

    ~Christine (The Dash Between)

    1. Lisha Post author

      I certainly wish I’d had this much wisdom when my kids were your boys’ ages. Perhaps there’d be fewer gray hairs on my head!!


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