March 29, 2016

10 Things I Don’t Wish I’d Done Differently As a Mom (Part 2)

A while ago, I Googled “what I wish I’d done differently as a mom” and got 10 million results.
If you read Part 1 of this two-part post, you already know that. (Also: thank you. Plus, one more thing: if you didn't read Part 1, would you mind taking a couple seconds to click back there and just read the set-up for this list? Because otherwise, it's going to look really braggy and all "look-at-me-don't-I-have-my-mom-act-so-together." Which is not the point in any way.)
If I wrote my own done-differently list, I'd have no problem coming up with a post that would be result #10,000,001. I have flubbed, failed, and floundered.
But with 29 cumulative years of mom mileage on me, I’m so thankful to be able to say there are a few things I don’t wish I could undo, by the grace of God.
I'll say it again: these things I have done and things I haven’t done have worked for me and for my girls and for our family.
Some of them may be deal-breakers for you. Some of these may be non-negotiables at your house. 
You may read this list and think, “Good grief, woman! Have you no shame? How can you possibly not regret this?!” Which is okay, actually.
Because you see, sweet mama, this is not a list* of how I think other moms should do motherhood. This is only a collection of what, with the benefit of some hindsight and two older, happy, healthy, thriving children as evidence, I can leave off my personal do-over wish list, by the grace…



As a mom, I'm thankful I don’t regret that I…
6. Set the bar of expectations low. From family vacations to the house we live in to back-to-school wardrobes to Christmas gifts to birthday parties, our secret to family contentment is pretty simple: promote low expectations.
Our thinking was—and continues to be—that if we set a low bar for what is good and satisfying and acceptable and worth looking forward to, contentment would probably follow. If my family expects M&Ms, and they get triple chocolate layer cake, they’re thrilled and pleasantly surprised and think I am the greatest mom ever. But if they expect the cake and all I deliver is the candy, they’re disappointed. I’d rather exceed low expectations than fall short of high ones.
7. Was “lax” about reading to my babies and toddlers. I knew I was supposed to read to my children…poetry in utero and then classics with discussion in their teen years. But my girls didn’t particularly care about being read to. They reacted to my dramatic interpretations of Chicka Chicka Boom Boom with approximately the same level of enthusiasm they reserved for having their runny noses wiped. So I gave up.
I listened to kid-safe books on CD in the van and around the house, made plenty of actual books available, read in front of them, and left it at that. Today, they’re voracious, enthusiastic, and skilled readers. They’ve both usually got about three books going at once in various formats. Also, they wipe their own runny noses now. It’s all good.
8. Have learned to be okay with my daughters growing up. I well understand the melancholy tug moms feel at seeing their babies mature. I know that tug myself. I look at my tween and teen and long for one more chance to hold them when they still fit in the crook of my neck...or even on my lap.
But whenever I feel sad that my girls are moving from one age or stage to another, I remind myself of something that helps me keep things in perspective: if I asked any parent who has lost a baby or a toddler or a young adult or a middle-aged child what they would give to “have” to watch that child go off to preschool or middle school or college or a job or their first colonoscopy, I know what they’d say. Anything. They would give anything.
Watching my girls grow and mature is a blessing and a gift I try not to take for granted. I also believe this to be true: “There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind” (C.S. Lewis).
9. Took—and enjoyed—mom “alone time.” I loved and love being with my girls. But I am a better mom when my batteries are recharged so I have fresh energy to pour into their lives. For me, that recharging happens when I am alone and have a break from some of my maternal duties. And I’m not the only one who has benefited from this occasional separation. See #1, in Part 1 of this post. (You might also like to glance at "5 Reasons Moms Shouldn't Feel Guilty About 'Alone Time'.")
10. Picked my battles. My younger daughter told me one day, “I’m just not gonna get in a big hassle.” I don’t remember what the issue was, but that was how she decided she was going to approach it.
As a mom, I could choose to “get in a big hassle” about every bite of food my girls eat, every minute of TV they watch, every book they read, every outfit they put on, every everything. But I haven’t. And not because I am some laid-back, relaxed personality, either. Please. I drove four college roommates to the brink of insanity with my uptightness. (I’m so sorry, girls.)
That I’ve let so much go as a mom is quite possibly pure laziness on my part, but I like to think I’ve tried to fight the battles that needed fighting. The battles that had eternal significance.
I want my girls to purse faith in God and purity and compassion and self-control and kindness. I really don’t care if they eat an Oreo while they’re doing it.
Maybe someday I’ll put together a list of what I wish I’d done differently. (And let me say it again: I have plenty of fodder for that collection. Mercy.) But right now, I’m just incredibly grateful I’ve got a few things to put on this list…a few things I’ve done that I wouldn’t undo.

By the grace.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   * 


*Are you looking for Thing #1-Thing #5? They're right
 here.

This post has also been gratefully shared at Real Life Families. If you're not already a fan of this encouraging site, please check it out. You'll be glad you did.


This list may also have been a guest at some of these lovely blog bashes.

51 comments:

  1. Number 8 is where I find myself these days! I'm just amazed at the relationships I'm being able to develop with my two teenage daughters, as well as their friends. There are so many positive things about having older children that I'm trying to embrace those and enjoy these special years we have together.

    Now don't get me wrong - I can get as sentimental as they come if I allow myself to look back at what used to be and to dwell on the swift passing of time! However, I definitely try to live in the spirit of the line you quoted from C.S. Lewis (love that, by the way!!)

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    1. Right, Tracey?! I'm right there on #8 with you. And may I just say that I'm so thankful I found you and your sweet site because there I found such a kindred spirit. I love what you expressed in your comment: that it's normal and okay and understandable to feel sentimental and to miss some of what has passed, but we don't want to camp out there. As Laura Ingalls Wilder said, "Now is now. It can never be a long time ago." Blessings to you in your NOW with your darling girls!

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  2. Elizabeth, this is so great to read! I currently am pregnant with baby #1, so I love hearing your insights on motherhood. I especially like #9 (and #1 on the previous post, which I just went back and read), because I am a big believer in "me time." But, especially growing up in homeschooling circles, I rarely ever saw this message portrayed. I've met plenty of moms who are great, but in their mothering enthusiasm seem to get across the idea that you NEED to be 110% constantly available to your child (ren). As I venture into this motherhood journey, while I keep my expectations about everything low, I am also trying to remember to prioritize "me time" and "me + husband time," because those are both so important!

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    1. Aw, thank you, AnneMarie! You're so sweet! It sounds to me like you are a wise mom-to-be! If you already know the value of balancing "me time" and "me + husband time" and "mom time," you're off to a great start. Because that balance (which, is, admittedly tricky to find sometimes) is good for everyone concerned. Thanks so much for stopping by, and congratulations on your great expectation! :)

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  3. It's a good list. We have to know our own kids and what works (doesn't work) with them. I would get comments and frowns on what I did and didn't allow. But...the proof is in the pudding and by Gods grace and mercy (because I really didn't know what I was doing), I have two wonderful grown up boys - I mean men. :) They are successful, kind and love God. Which was my goal. :)

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    1. Oh, I love what you wrote! Especially your honesty--"I really didn't know what I was doing" (and amen to that, sister)--and your "how the story has turned out"--"they are successful, kind, and love God." To me, that seems as good as it gets. Thank you so much for sharing your encouraging and hopeful perspective!

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  4. Fantastic list, Elizabeth. I'm all for #9. Alone time is something I'm starting to enjoy. Moms usually put themselves last, when they should really be putting themselves first. As you said, time away from mom duties allows us to be better moms in the long run, so we should allow ourselves that little bit of grace. Thank you for sharing this with us. Saying hello from Tuesday talk today :)

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    1. Maria, you are one busy blogging mama! Everywhere I go, there you are! :) Wow! I'm glad my little list made some sense to someone besides me. And yes, taking and enjoying mom alone-time is one of my mom "causes," I guess you could say. Mom batteries ARE rather like the Energizer bunny's, but eventually they do have to be recharged! ;) Thanks for stopping by from Tuesday Talk!

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  5. Pick your battles! Absolutely a must, especially with teenagers. I wish I learned this one earlier on. Good thing I didn't scar them for life! I check every now and then now that they are adults!

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    1. Wow, are you ever right about that, Michelle. And LOL--truly--about not scarring your kids for life and checking in on them as adults. Love it. I will try to remember your wisdom--and what I put on my own list, for crying out loud--tomorrow morning at 6 a.m. (When, potentially, one of my daughters could very well be crying out loud.)

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  6. Great list! I totally agree with every point, especially the "mommy time" and picking your battles!

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    1. That's great to hear, Lisa! It's nice to know I'm not alone in this.:) Blessings on your day...here's hoping you get some mom-time soon and that God gives you wisdom for whatever battles lie in wait!;)

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  7. Yes on setting the bar low - which is why a certain little gal could be excited over her Easter basket, which was composed of a couple of new items from the dollar store, but mainly "Easter-y" things I could find already in her room...

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    1. Exactly, Lisa! Hurrah for the dollar store...and for "Easter-y" things. :) You = smart mama. xoxo

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  8. Every.single.one. I found myself shaking my head in agreement to every single one. Further proof that we are actually twins separated at birth and by a few years. I absolutely love this list! Thanks for sharing on Waiting on Wednesday.

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    1. Oh, Jennifer, thank you again so much! I'd be honored to be your twin...and not just because it would set me back quite a few years in the best possible way! ;) Blessings to you, fellow mama--and my dear encourager. xoxo

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  9. I can really relate to the reading thing. Whilst I do read to my girls they have very clear views on which books they want to read, my input tends to go out the window :)

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    1. Sam, my experience is that a lot of mom "input" seems to go out the window! ;) But you never know what will "take," right? We just do the things we know to do, and who knows what results will emerge some day? Probably, your girls will reflect fondly on their mom reading to them when they are moms themselves! Thanks so much for stopping by!

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  10. The last one really resonates for me -- there's only so much energy and time, and there are so many battles to be fought. No one wins if you're fighting battles all the time!

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    1. "No one wins if you're fighting battles all the time." Yes, Michele...you are so right! I appreciate you putting that spin on what sometimes just feels like laziness to me! ;) Thank you so much for popping over here today!

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  11. These are great, Elizabeth! #9 has been imperative for me. I cherish my alone time and I'm a nightmare without it. My husband can even tell when it's been too long since I've had a few moments away from everyone. He will quickly send me off on my own and I'm incredibly thankful :).

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    1. Thank you, Candace! And oh my goodness, aren't we kindred spirits about mom alone-time? It sounds like my husband would have some common ground to discuss with yours if they got together! ;) And like you, I am thankful. Blessings on you, mama...thank you for stopping by!

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  12. Always love your focus on the positive. It's so uplifting! Choosing your battles is a very big one for me, too. (It has to be with so much going on all the time!)

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    1. Aw, thank you, Jamie! That's so nice of you to say. Of course, you know I put that best positive face on here, but my girls can tell you what I'm like "the rest of the time." Sigh. Anyway, you are SO right that if we don't choose our battles in the middle of the craziness, we'll GO crazy! Hey, on another subject, I just printed off a delicious-looking cinnamon roll recipe that I found on Friday Funday! So glad you led me to your party! Have a lovely weekend...

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  13. This is such a great list. I made a goal to read three books to my kids every day this year. While the snuggle time is great when we accomplish it, it doesn't happen every day (and I'm ok with that). I love the idea about setting low expectations, too!

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    1. WOW, Alison, what a dedicated mom you are...that reading goal is awesome! You are beautifully demonstrating the truth of one of my favorite quotes: "if you aim at nothing, you're sure to hit it." You are aiming at something--and are hitting THAT! :) Thanks so much for clicking over...I'm looking forward to seeing what Tickling the Wheat is all about!

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  14. Teaching contentment is the best way to go! I did that myself and I am not sorry one bit. Poetry is something that does nothing for me, so my son does not enjoy it either. He is not a big reader, although I would love for him to be one, I don't expect it until he is ready to embrace the love. It took me being required to read 20 book in one school year for me to love reading. - I just don't think I can do that to him. :) It doesn't pay to fight every battle, you end up with children who will resent you for it. Thanks for sharing with Thankful Thursdays, Elizabeth.

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    1. So much wisdom you've shared here, Lori. Your words make me think of this verse: "Godliness with contentment is great gain" (1 Timothy 6:6). Isn't that the truth? Thank you for taking time to stop by and leave your thoughtful comment--and, as always, for being such a gracious and dedicated link party hostess. :)

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  15. Hi Elizabeth! I just love this list. And I love your site. Thanks again for just being on the web!

    Blessings,
    Tiffiney

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    1. Thank you again, Tiffiney! Your kind words have brightened my day. And I am so glad we "met" via Faith 'n' Friends. How have I not known about your site until now? So thankful that has been rectified. I'm looking forward to keeping up with you from now on! :)

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  16. I'm SO thankful to hear another Mom thankful she's set the bar low! I'm so close to the ground, no fall could hurt me! Keeping the bar low for my husband is also something (I've learned) and I don't regret. Once he gave me a weekend to myself. On Monday evening I asked him what the children had eaten for dinner on Sunday. His response: Goldfish crackers. That's it. And they were THRILLED!!! It's my unmet expectations that make me uptight as a parent. Lowering them results in a less stressed Mom. Everyone in this house is happier and healthier with a less stressed Mom.

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    1. Nicole, this--"I'm so close to the ground, no fall could hurt me!"--is the funniest, most honest thing I've read in a long time. I. Love. It. And mama, I am right down there with you. Power to the power of Goldfish crackers! And amen to everything else you said. Please, let's be friends. xoxo

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  17. I think I'll have to agree with all of these! All mom and all kids are different, even among our own kids, and what works with one, does not with the other. There are too many set rules out there, and too many people that think that have the right to decide that their way is the only way. If if works for you and your child, then it perfectly fine. Great to connect with you through #FFBH! ☺

    You might also enjoy this post from JoyfulSavings: Stay safe and add Emergency Contact to your locked cellphone!

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    1. Well, thank you so much! I LOVE #FFBH and am so glad, too, it created this connection. It's lovely to meet a kindred spirit...am off to check out your link right now! :)

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    1. Yup, Maureen, that's a mama must for me, too! :) In fact, I'm getting ready for the motherload of it in a little while...my husband and daughters are headed to Florida for spring break to see his mom, and I'm happily staying home alone! :)

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  19. Wonderful thoughts, Elizabeth, both here and in part 1.
    Personally, I find myself being okay with my daughter growing up. I am currently pregnant, so I guess I know I get to repeat all the baby stuff again, but I still really enjoy watching her grow and learn. Plus, as selfish as this may sound, it's easier to get things done and get out as she gets older!

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    1. Aw, thank you, Shannon! And congratulations on your great expectation! How wonderful. I am so excited for you to experience the best of both worlds: new baby joys and older-child delights. And there is no shame in savoring those growing-up pleasures because they are many...and we train our children so they CAN grow up, as they should. Blessings on you, mama-in-waiting. :)

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  20. I am so glad I am not the only one! Sometimes I wonder if I am the only one that doesn't long for my baby to still be little or long for him to be older. I really try just to appreciate him for where he is at. And well, mom time and picking your battles go without saying. Thanks for sharing on #FridayFrivolity.

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    1. Oh my word, Audrey, you have just given me one of the best moments in blogging with this sentence: "I am so glad I am not the only one!" I LOVE it when this happens...it's what I come back to when I want to quit. (You know, every day or so.) As for this--"sometimes I wonder if I am the only one that doesn't long for my baby to still be little or long for him to be older. I really try just to appreciate him for where he is at"--now you know you are NOT the only one! :) Thank you for letting me know I'm not either. P.S. I LOVE #FridayFrivolity. All you hostesses are some of my favorite bloggers around!

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  21. I really like your take on all of these, but especially #8 -- I'm right there right now. As much as I loved having her home all the time, watching her grow on her own as a young adult is such an amazing gift!

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    1. I love this, Wendy! I mean, obviously, because I put #8 on my list, but it's lovely to hear it from other moms, too. ;) And you are right: what a gift to watch your daughter begin to live the life you prepared her for when she was younger. I'm getting glimpses of that myself, and it is a joy and privilege. Thank you so much for stopping by!

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  22. #8 is pulling on my heart strings, just wrote a post about it. It sure is a challenge! My baby is turning 3 soon and our oldest has Kindergarten graduation the same weekend and I feel like I need a paper bag every time I think about it! ;)

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    1. Oh, I know, Ana!!! Can't wait to read your post. Those milestones really DO tug at our mom heartstrings, and yet what a gift and joy it is to watch our babies grow and learn and become. Blessings on those big moments just ahead of you!

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  23. I love this post so much! It is so incredibly easy to look back and wish something to be done a little differently. However, it is so important to recognize that we are doing things right for us to. Hindsight is 20/20 and it sounds like you have done an amazingly awesome job with your kids!

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    1. Aw, thank you, Ashley...that's so kind of you! :) I love how you wisely point out the "perfect vision" of hindsight, because it reminds me that having that hindsight is one of the benefits of being an older mom! I am so grateful God has given me wisdom beyond myself...along with two precious girls I've just mostly tried hard not to mess up too badly! ;) Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving your sweet comments!

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  24. Popping back again to thank you for linking up at the Friday Funday Blog Hop #FFBH! Hope to see you there again this week. :) (And this post really is wonderful!)

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    1. Thank you so much, Jamie! I really love #FFBH, and you hostesses must work so hard to make all your "guests" feel welcomed and appreciated. See you in a couple days! :)

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  25. I love that C.S. Lewis quote - and I'm a big proponent of #9. I think that gets easier as the kids get older, especially after they stop nursing!

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    1. Yes, Angela, you just can hardly go wrong with C.S. Lewis, can you? ;) And you are so right about alone time with a nursing baby: I well remember the days of dashing around, running errands while my newborns were with their grandparents, counting down until the next meal time! Now I'm dashing around a lot, too...running my girls everywhere, trying to figure out what to feed them at the next mealtime! ;) Thank you so much for taking time to read both parts of this post. Bless you!

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I'd love to hear from you! Feel free to tell me what you really think. Years ago, I explained to my then-two-year that my appointment with a counselor was "sort of like going to a doctor who will help me be a better mommy." Without blinking, she replied, "You'd better go every day." All of which is just to say I've spent some time in the school of brutal honesty!