Things To Love About Being a Mother—In Every Stage
When my mom was just barely a mom, with just two babies, my sister and I, she and her former college roommate lived in the same apartment complex. This friend had a daughter just my age, and they traded babysitting all the time. On one of her babysitting turns, my mom had just finished all of the laundry. This involved somehow toting the clothes and two babies about a block away to the laundry facility. No small feat.
While she was tending to the baby in another room, my friend Tara and I, ages one-and-a-half were playing near the laundry. Tara found a jar of Vaseline and stuck her whole hand in it. She didn’t like how that felt, so she wiped it off. All over the fresh laundry. Nothing was untouched.
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 for them.
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 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.
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
One of my favorite people to talk to about teens is my friend Kristin Duke, who hosts a podcast for teens called Fist Bump, among other podcasts and blogs. She told me the story of meeting a mom and daughter in the grocery line. In the course of their conversation the mom said, “We’re almost to the teenage years. We’ll see if we survive that.” Kristin quickly jumped in to say, “The teen years are my favorite!” She listed all the things she loves about raising teens--their sense of humor, their intelligence, their independence. Kristin has become something of a public relations specialist for teens. To read a a fabulous blog post and video about treating teenagers with respect, click here.
Here are some of the things other moms listed:
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.
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.
These lists obviously paint a rosy picture of motherhood—that was the point. And many of these things won’t apply to you or describe your motherhood experience.
One of my favorite descriptions about motherhood is also a book title, All Joy and No Fun. On a side note, you should check out the book, by Jennifer Senior. It’s one of my favorite books about parenting. Day-to-day parenting is hard. But the joys that come along with it, like the ones I listed in this episode, make all the Vaseline clean-up, bottom wiping, sleepless nights, backtalk and tantrums worth the pain.