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  • Writer's pictureTina

My Approach To Motherhood

My favorite humans reset the stone by the driveway as part of my Mother's Day gift.

Happy Monday, dear reader. I hope you had an enjoyable weekend celebrating all the extraordinary ladies in your life. The Bibbed Wonder and The Bean go out of their way to make me feel special, not just on Mother’s Day but every day. Life with these two goobers is more than I could ask for; I am truly blessed. Being a mom is the greatest gift I have been given. I don’t take that for granted, not ever.

For a long time, I thought I would never have children of my own. From a young age, maybe fourteen or fifteen, I knew that the likelihood of carrying a child full term was probably not in the cards for me. I have always been okay with that. There was never any part of reproduction that sounded like or looked like a lot of fun. You get fat; your ankles swell; your back hurts, you're tired, and then the labor and delivery…no thank you. I have always heard that childbirth is a beautiful thing. Umm, I was there for The Bean’s birth mother’s labor and delivery. I’m sorry, there wasn’t anything beautiful about it. It was scary, messy, and it looked painful…very painful. For all the women who are able to create life, you have my utmost respect.

Jordan is my miracle. Becoming a mother by adoption is an entirely different experience than giving birth to a child one carries in their womb for nine months. I may not have the ability to grow children, but my capacity for loving children is not diminished in any way. If I’m being transparent, I cherish her even more because I know what a great challenge it was for her to get to me and for us to become a family. It was no easy feat, but we are better for it. Every day, I am grateful and appreciative of the gift of motherhood. Even on the days, it feels like a challenge, I would not trade it for anything.

My approach to parenting is straightforward. I treat my daughter the way I always wanted to be treated. I tell her I am proud of her frequently. She needs to hear that. She needs to know I see her trying, working hard, being kind, showing her beautiful heart to the world, being fearless and brave, facing adversity head-on, and doing so with grace. I tell her I love her multiple times a day. She needs to know that she is the sun in my world. She needs to know she makes my world a better, bigger, brighter place. It is essential for her to know she makes a positive impact on me daily. I want her to understand that her being here is a gift from God. I treat her with respect. I have always respected her as an individual, and I go out of my way to treat her as such. I respect her opinions. I listen to her problems and concerns. I have always communicated to her that it’s okay for us to disagree; it’s normal. However, we can disagree and be respectful of each other. Her problems are not marginalized because she is young. What she finds frustrating, overwhelming, scary, or unnerving may seem small compared to the difficulties one faces as an adult, but the issue is monumental to her. It’s where she is at in this world, in her growth and development. Most importantly, it’s important to her, and that is important to me.

I speak to her with love and reverence. I have always played it straight with her. Her personality leaves no room for bullshit, and I respect that about her. Humiliation, criticism, control, guilt, manipulation, blaming, and jealousy have no place in our relationship. We are open and honest with each other, even if it’s not the easiest route to take, and we respect each other for this. I tell her I admire her. She needs to know I see her doing “right” and “good.” I don’t just look for her mistakes or wait for her to mess up. I don’t address only the “bad.” I see her work her butt off in school. I see her commit to being a good friend/daughter/student/human. I watch her work tirelessly to be the best she can be in all her chosen activities like track, musical, taekwondo, and her animals. It’s crucial she understands I know she is trying, and I admire her for her fearlessness and ability to put herself out there in a good way, take positive risks, and learn and grow.

She must also understand it’s okay not to be perfect. I understand and want her to understand she will mess up, which is okay. Making mistakes is how one learns and grows. It’s also how one becomes a better person. Owning a mistake is one of the hardest lessons one can learn. I try to own my mistakes. I apologize if I am wrong. I have taught her that when someone apologizes for a mistake, we don’t say, “That’s okay,” because it’s not okay for someone to hurt you, disrespect you, or make you feel small. Instead, we say, “I accept your apology.” We don’t give permission for others to treat us poorly. We don’t normalize bad behavior or disrespect. We also don’t blame our problems on the world or make excuses for our bad behavior. We own them, we make amends, and we move on; that’s the healthy approach.

I also set clear expectations and boundaries for her. It’s important for one to understand the playing field. If the rules, boundaries, and expectations constantly change, how can one be successful? I have always had good follow-thru with rules. I learned from being a teacher that children smell bullshit from ten miles away. If one makes empty threats, children will see that within seconds and run with it. Is it always easy, fun, and pleasant? No. It’s hard, and I feel mean sometimes. However, it’s also essential for my daughter to learn that rules are in place for a reason. It’s not about control, being in charge, or power. Most often, it's about safety. Along with boundaries and expectations, it's important to understand why these rules are created. I have never uttered the words “because I said so.” I also communicate that it is not her I don’t trust. I trust her judgment. It’s other people I don’t trust with her. Not everyone is good. Not everyone wants what is best for her. She needs to understand this and trust her instincts because she has good instincts. She needs to learn to trust herself. If I don’t trust her, how will she ever learn to trust herself?

My greatest wish for my daughter is for her to be independent. I want her to know that when push comes to shove, she can stand on her own two feet and take care of herself and those she loves. It’s important for me to know she can protect what is hers. I have always taken the approach that she is as capable as I believe she is. When she was small, like three, I allowed her to use a real knife while supervised. She could sort and do her own laundry by the age of six. Incidentally, when she was six, she liked chores because they made her feel important. Now that she is fourteen, she hates being capable…sigh. When she loads the dishwasher, I don’t reload it secretly or criticize her for the way she loaded it. I let it run half full and tell her thank you and good job. She is in charge of her room. After all, it’s her space. If she wants to live in squalor and filth, that is her choice. She cleans her room almost every weekend without being asked.

She earns her own money, and she spends her money as she sees fit…within reason. She has a savings account, and she enjoys watching the balance grow. She has investments that she makes decisions upon and has a say in. She understands how interest rates work and that credit cards should not be abused. She understands that just because you earn so much an hour doesn’t mean that is what you take home. Taxes are an outrage to her. Jordan understands that if she wants a $1300 phone, she will have to work X amount of hours for said phone. Suddenly, $120 sweatpants don’t seem like a necessity; they seem like a dumb investment. My daughter understands more about life and the real world as a child than I did as an adult in my 20s and 30s. That makes me proud. She makes me proud.

I compliment her daily. She needs to hear from me that she is a good kid. I compliment her on her organization skills, her kindness, her commitment, her big heart, her empathy, her generosity, her sense of responsibility, her follow-thru, and her intelligence. I try not to focus on her physical appearance. However, I compliment her on her smile, outfit choice, athleticism, and inner beauty. If she spends time on her hair or puts together a new outfit she is proud of, I make a fuss. However, I want her to know she is more than a pretty, brainless object. Mostly I say, “You’re a good kid” or “Thanks for being such a good kid.” She always responds with, “You’re welcome. I try.” I end with a hug and say, “I know you do, and it shows. I appreciate you.”

Being her mom is the best gig in the world. I don’t know what I did to be so blessed, but I am grateful and appreciative she was gifted to me. It’s my duty to work my butt off not to mess this up…not to mess her up. I’m far from perfect, so very far. However, I believe my child knows how much I love, appreciate, trust, admire, and adore her. We understand that this parenting thing and child thing is uncharted territory for both of us. What is important is that we know the other is trying, and we have the best intentions at heart. I love being her mom.

On this beautiful May Monday, stay safe, be smart, treating others the way we want to be treated is a good rule for parenting, do the very best you can, know you aren’t perfect, be humble enough to admit it, and love, love with every fiber of your being. Oh, also, wash your hands. Spreading germs is not the same as sharing love. It’s spreading germs, and that’s just gross…wink.

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