Things To Love About Being a Mother—In Every Stage
When my mom was young, with only me to give her that title, she and my dad were head residents for some freshman dorms. She had quit her teaching job to stay home with me, while my dad finished school. Many of their friends were still in school and had young children, so she seemed to always be helping with other people's kids, while also tending to the needs of the freshman in the dorm. All this while she was still figuring out how to be a mom.
One morning she was babysitting a friend's daughter, when the toddler opened up a bottle of Vasaline and smeared it all over her clean laundry. (She holds no grudges, Tara.) My mom lost it. It was a last-straw situation. She sat down right there and scrawled out a list of "Things I Hate." It got long. And she felt worse and worse.
So she crumpled up the list and started a new list: "Things I Love."
I love this story, partly because it makes my Super Mom so relatable. All moms have experienced a similar scenario and felt these feelings. Whatever stage you're in, it's hard, and there are a lot of things to hate. But we're not going to talk about those things right now. We're going to focus on the things we love.
One thing I've noticed is that it's sometimes easier to think of things to add to the "Things I Love" list when you're looking backwards or forward, thinking about what you miss from past stages, or what you look forward to in future stages. So I asked my Instagram readers what they loved and I came up with my own list. Then I asked my mother and mother-in-law for their lists. This was actually the best part about writing this post, and I encourage you all to ask your moms and mother-in-laws what they loved in each stage. I treasure their responses!
Here is our list of some of the things to love in each stage of motherhood (recognizing that these stages overlap if you have more than one child). The goal is for you to be able to look at your own stage from a different perspective, to make sure you don't take these lovable things for granted.
Things to Love About Raising Babies
- They have a short list of needs and, for the most part, you know how to provide them.
- They're portable.
- They don't intentionally cause problems.
- They're adorable and delightful.
- Everyone wants to hold them/help.
- Fat baby hands and rubber-band wrists.
- All the firsts: smiles, giggles, words, foods, walking, discovering toys, walking on grass, digging toes in the sand...
- Having them fall asleep on you.
- The smell.
- The soft skin.
- They trust you implicitly and completely.
- Rocking them to sleep.
- Bonding with an infant and the loving looks a baby gives in response to undivided attention.
Things to Love About Raising Toddlers
- They discover new things every day and meet them with such delight.
- Watching them learn to pretend.
- Seeing their cute little legs when it's shorts season again.
- They sleep through the night! (sometimes)
- Watching language develop and playing a role how babies learn to communicate.
- Finally finding out what's going on in that little head.
- Trying to figure out what works with each different child's personality and thought processes.
- Singing songs with them.
- Watching them figure out how to play at a park.
- The giggles.
- The cuddles.
Things to Love About Raising Preschoolers
- No more diapers!
- They can play simple board and card games.
- They create elaborate worlds while playing.
- They start playing with their friends instead of around them. (And having a friend over can almost be like having a babysitter.)
- Reading to them.
- Listening to their made-up stories.
- Helping them figure out how to create art.
- Their excitement at learning new things.
- Their quirky personalities start to really show.
- The funny ways they dress themselves.
Things to Love About the Raising Elementary-School Kids
- Watching reading click for them.
- Going on hikes where no one needs to be carried.
- Reading chapter books together.
- Sending them off to school and getting some time for yourself.
- Playing games with them and teaching them to lose gracefully.
- Going to events where the kids showed off their talents and skills like piano recitals, baseball games, soccer games, etc.
- Talking about more complex concepts.
Things to Love About Raising Tweens
- Those times that they relax and let themselves be a kid.
- Watching them take chances outside their comfort zones.
- Watching them figure out who they really are.
- Finding out where their talents lie (and where they don’t).
- They start really excelling at certain things.
- You start to see the payoff with long-term things like piano lessons.
- Hearing their budding-adulthood take on things. Seeing how they process things and maneuver through hard things.
- Seeing what they're capable of rising above.
- Cheering the little successes.
- Maneuvering through awkwardness and coming out OK.
- Seeing glimpses into their future selves.
- They can do most things by themselves, and are starting to be self directed.
- They’re actually helpful.
- They can babysit!!
Things to Love About Raising Teens
- Their sense of humor.
- They're able to have deeper, more intellectual conversations.
- Having a house full of fun and friends, eating us out of house and home.
- They’re so clever.
- They pass you up in some things.
- They write really interesting papers for school and have big ideas.
- They’re self-directed.
- They’re capable.
- Watching them joke around and interact with their friends.
- Milestones like dances and first jobs.
- You get to relive the fun high school times.
- Watching them learn how to interact with the opposite sex.
- There are lots of important firsts, like first jobs, first dates, first time driving, etc.
- Reading more advanced books with them.
- Teaching them more advanced skills like how to sew.
Things to Love About the Adult Stage
- Watching them make life choices.
- Being surprised by their competence.
- Seeing what career they choose.
- Once you have an empty nest, rediscovering your hobbies, interests, and spouse.
- Seeing what good parents they are.
- Seeing who they choose to marry.
- It’s really fun to watch them fall in love.
- It’s fun to be friends with them.
- Playing with grandchildren and watching grandchildren play with one another.
If you thought of things you'd add to any of these lists while you were reading (or talking to your own mothers about their lists), please continue the conversation by adding them in the comments below!