My friend Cheryl has agreed to be interviewed today. I hope her words are as encouraging to you as they are to me.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your family.
My family of six has moved in and around Illinois a half dozen times. My husband Mike works in the power industry and I am a special educator of the Deaf by training, but, I've only dabbled in the field since the kids came along. We celebrate 25 years together this July. My oldest child Katie is now nearly 24 years old and moving to Chicago to begin her career, Amy is 21 and in nursing school, Marie is 17 - a high spirited high schooler, and my youngest son, Brian is 13...My last teenager to hit the ground running - and he's a fast runner!
Why do you love being a mom?
To be honest, I remember crying in fear when I learned I was going to have Katie, but since that moment of shock and uncertainty, I've loved being a mom because it pushes me to be more honest, more diligent, more selfless, more long thinking, more of vitually everything good I should be. Plus there are some really nice people to meet at the playground, PTO and in the bleachers!
What has been the most challenging part about being a mom for you?
Well, setting high standards in marriage and mothering means you sometimes, shall I say, regularly miss the mark and have to name your mistakes and start fresh. Understanding that my kids are not just my projects, but are people with unique, tricky, and marvelous personalities, I can't claim the rights to all their successes any more than I want to claim responsibility for all their failures. We are all works in progress.
What advice do you have for moms in the preschool years?
Keep your eyes a little down the road . I think in those early days - minutes can be sooo long. But while you are in them, rest assured that you are doing exactly what you should be doing - watching them grow. Its something you can't measure when you are in it. Look at the next stage, don't necessarily yearn for it, but prepare for it. The foundations you set now in being a reliable, attentive, astute even adoring parent will pay out all the way into adulthood. I still am parenting my oldest a bit in that she trusts my judgment enough to want my opinion and my company. Nothing you pour in now will be lost.
How do you keep your husband first in the midst of mothering?
Simply, I brush my teeth before I say good morning. After that, if the sun is nearly up and the kids aren't, anything's possible. Needless to say, Mike likes summer more than winter!
Other than that, I try to deliberatley do things to move into his world. I have not always been good at that...or willing to be good. Time and training have taught me to make this a priority. I studied Mike's love language and know that a compliment given in front of others makes his hearts swell and pays dividends. (That morning thing doesn't hurt either). Marriages break up all around because couples have become specialists in their area and don't overlap enough. I've had to learn a lot about nuclear power, attend functions where I won't know a soul, and be willing to start over in a new community for the sake of his career. I recognize the gift of his provision and seek his company. We walk together nearly every day and talk on the phone often. Mostly, these days, I tell him when I think something nice about him and you'll be surprised how many more nice things there are to notice when you start that habit.
What is your favorite summer activity?
Well, reading is the greatest if I can have an hour or more of uninterrrupted time - put in on a beach and its perfect. These days, I can do that more often and I do love it. And honestly, I love writing...I can lose hours letting my fingers do the thinking. But for summer, its better to spend time together and if I can do a little of that with each child on their own, that's a treasure. Today, my son and I just went garage saling and out for cokes just for the heck of it.
How has your mom influenced your parenting?
My mom was above all reliable. She never sent me mixed messages, she is honest, loyal, forthright, and hard working. She loves my Dad (and he her). She is a great pie maker, and I am the only one in the family that does the same. It makes me happy to carry on her special gift of service and sweetness.
Share one good “mom tip” that you have learned over the years.
Own your days of being the manager of your family with pride. If you love what you do, others will love it too. I was reminded of that again recently from a store clerk ...she treated me as if it was a high calling to attend to me. I felt known and cared for. (I spent more money less painfully as a result) That's true of a mother that sees her own role as a high calling. Everyone else feels the joy of her passion.