As mentioned in this post, this week I'm writing about Things for which I am Thankful*. Today's installment of thankful thoughts centers around things related to motherhood.
As a mother, I am obviously thankful for my kids - I have a teen son and a pre-teen daughter. They're just good kids - fun, funny, smart, outgoing, polite, helpful, caring, friendly... basically what you'd expect from the best kids on the planet. I hear heart-wrenching parenting stories from friends and co-workers, and know I've got it pretty good with my kids.
For this post, I thought I would list things that have helped me be a better mother, and have helped make life a bit easier.
- I'm grateful for all the classes I took in early childhood education in high school and college. Understanding the different stages of child development and discipline techniques made all the difference when the kids were young. (Of course, once they passed age 6, I was just as in the dark as every other parent, but those first six years of false confidence were great!)
- Also when the kids were young, I was newly connected to the Internet via AOL, and spent a lot of time in the Moms Online forum. As a new transplant to St Louis at the time, I didn't have many friends in my new home, so it was so helpful to have a place to go when I had questions or needed to vent. Now message boards and chats are much more prevalent and accessible, but just as useful for parents 'displaced' from local support networks.
- I was active in a Moms & Tots Activity club when the kids were in preschool - it was a local group of mothers that met several times a month to do fun things together, like play areas, pumpkin patches, apple picking, hayrides, and other family-friendly activities. I was grateful at the time for the availability of an organized group that sought out and coordinated all these activities, and am grateful now to still be in contact with friends I made in the group. Our kids are now preteens/teens, so our time together is much more Girls-Night-Out oriented, which works well for me.
- I'm thankful I got to stay at home with my kids when they were young, so we had the time and opportunity to go on said fun outings. I'm so grateful that I was there for so many of their young moments of discovery and adventure, like blowing bubbles and shaving cream in the bathtub and countless visits to what my son called "castle park". I did work on and off as a administrative assistant temp to help out with finances, but stayed home for most of the first three years with both of them. I like to think knowing I was there and available for them made a difference in the relationship we have today.
- I'm thankful my mother and mother-in-law live close by, and that I have a good relationship with both of them. It's rare that a week goes by that I don't call one of them with one question or another, whether cooking, sewing, cleaning, or health-related. Moms rock for knowing little things about life like that. They are such a blessing of an informational resource (and just, well, you know, being a blessing as a part of our family and all that).
- Over the course of my "career" as a mother, I've read a lot to improve my efficiency and efficacy as a parent and homemaker (ok, I lie - there were days I desperately sought out anything that would help me get through the day - you know the kind of day I'm talking about...) Some books that helped me were What to Expect When You're Expecting, What to Expect the First Year, Sidetracked Home Executives, The Happiness File (out of print), Solve Your Child's Sleep Problems, and Confessions of a Happily Organized Family. I also enjoyed subscriptions to Family Fun and Parents magazines, and made sure to always have a copy of local-centric Mother & Child Reunion handy.
* While grammatically correct, I realize this series title doesn't exactly roll off the tongue. I'm open to suggestions. :)