Approaching soon is my first Mother’s day. But you don’t need a special day to remind you of all that there is to be grateful for.
We all remember the joy of having a squeaking, squealing human baby who looks at you and loves you. Sometimes when our kids grow up and challenge us, we can lose sight of that joy.
I want to help you get back there.
Do you remember those days? The first time you realized “OMG I’m a Mom/Dad/Parent”?
The shock and awe? Possibly the overwhelm and sleep deprivation?
(I’m very familiar with those lately).
And now here you are trying to raise a tween or teen.
You absolute superstar.
Your little bundle has lavished you over the years with many Mother’s day gifts from macaroni artwork to fridge magnets that read “I’m a mom, just gimme the coffee”. And now they hopefully remember to make you breakfast in bed (so long as you clean up the mess they left…sigh…)
I can’t lie to you – I used to wonder if parents just said “thanks hun” and secretly wanted to throw away the cheap gifts as soon as the kid wouldn’t notice. Until now, I never understood the joy of those presents. I cynically thought why just give a gift for the sake of a gift? But I get it now. The value raises exponentially when attached to that unwavering love of a small child who can see no fault in you and thinks you are the moon and stars. It carries a different weight.
Now I can’t wait to get my first fridge magnet and I will cherish it until the end of time because it came from her.
Today let’s talk gratitude.
Yes, your tween or teen may not quite look at you the same way lately. But make no mistake, they adore you. They are just figuring themselves out right now and sometimes that can feel lonely for you.
In moments of frustration and overwhelm, it’s useful to take stock of the love and things you appreciate and remember fondly.
Try a quick visualization:
Do you remember the first moment you held them in your arms?
Do you remember the first time they hugged you? The first time they said I love you?
What about that first real belly laugh?
Or the time they came running to you after school?
What about the time they were sick and totally content to snuggle in your arms for the afternoon?
I understand it’s easy as a parent of a tween or teen to only think about those times where they slammed the door or uttered that first dreaded (but totally untrue) “I hate you”.
Remember those moments are, overtime, the exceptions.
Take a moment to think fondly of all the moments you have shared over the years that brought you immense joy, meaning, and fulfillment,
Really sit with those thoughts and let them fill you with warmth (and it’s OK if a little sadness kicks in too because you miss those moments).
It can be easy to look back with rose coloured glasses. But what about finding the joy right now, when things may be hard? Try this challenge:
Think of 3 things in the past month that happened in your relationship with your tween or teen you will look back on just as fondly or with awe a few years from now.
Sometimes we lose sight of the moments of joy, or they get so over-shadowed with stress. Yet when we look back, all of a sudden there those moments were, clear as day. How could we have not recognized them in the moment?? How could we have not totally sunk into those moments and appreciated them at the time?
Don’t worry – it’s normal for your brain to zoom in to the negative. But the more we do that, the more we feel stuck there and the harder it is to see those moments of joy when they happen.
So it’s a very important step to make time to reflect on what we appreciate and are grateful for. Not because Oprah or Brene Brown says to, but because it actually changes our brain chemistry to do so.
Because it actually will help us connect better with our kids when we do so.
Because when things get really tough, we need an anchor or a line to pull us back home to each other.
Try the challenge for a few days. Just find 1 or 2 new items to be appreciative of each day, moments you enjoyed together, and really visualize them and sit with them. See how over time it helps you stay more present in those moments of joy and not miss them as they fly by only to be relegated to memories that you feel you didn’t fully experience.
Notice too how the quality of your mood, and subsequent tone and feelings around your child, also shifts in response, and how they ever so subtly shift as a result as well.
A closer more connected relationship simply because you focused on the good times and not the hardest ones? Now that’s truly a mother’s day gift to celebrate for a life time.
Want a cheesy activity that your tween or teen will 100% not join you on but will secretly adore?
Print some photos of you and them, write out a quote or the memory from the small moments you are now remembering fondly (“that time we made supper and you said oooooppppsie as you dropped some grated cheese on the ground and I laughed because of how you said ooooppppsie”), and stick those to a magnet for the fridge.
Imagine the impact of that on a tween or teen. Having them see every month or so a new magnet celebrating a moment that could have felt insignificant in the grand scheme of things. Imagine them realizing that those small moments are what make a relationship, and those small moments are things you cherish. Imagine how special they would feel seeing you recognize your love for them in times like that. Now that’s how to bring a child “back home” to your heart.
I don’t even care how sappy that sounds. That’s the whole point of parenthood. Sappy love and beautiful memories. Let’s not lose sight of that.