What 19 years of parenting has taught me

What 19 years of parenting has taught me at I'm an Organizing Junkie blog

I am feeling, for a lack of a better word, melancholy this week.  I am missing my daughter who is away at school in her first year of University and is celebrating her 19th birthday this week. Her first birthday without me. She’s fine with it of course, but I’m still trying to figure out this new normal. It’s an adjustment that is for sure.

It’s a strange stage of life where you get caught between missing them and being excited for them as they pursue their dreams. Mostly I’m excited for her though as I watch her navigate this world as an adult. I have an adult child. My child is an adult.  It takes some getting use to.

And foolishly I thought when she graduated and moved away that she would forget about me and never need me again. Thankfully that isn’t what happened at all. She still needs me, only now it’s usually in text form asking me for advice or to tell me something that’s going on. It’s really not so different after all.

After 19 years at this parenting gig, if there is two pieces of wisdom I’d want to pass on to moms of small children, outside of teaching children responsibility by giving them chores, it would be this:

* always take time to talk one on one with your kids

* always take time to be silly and laugh with your kids

Here’s the kicker though with the first one.  Your kids will want to talk at the most random of times most likely late at night when you are so very tired. But it is so worth it. When opportunity knocks, stop and take it.  Mostly you’ll be listening, it won’t often make sense or seem logical but it’s time you’ll be so thankful later you took. Often it requires a lot of reading between the lines to decipher what it is they are really trying to say but in the process you’ll learn what really makes them tick and what it is they really need.

If you don’t have the time, consider making some changes to stop complicating life. To slow down from the busy work, to make some time for the mundane, for it is in the mundane ordinary of days that we find the most reward.

With my son it is usually in the car where he opens up.  The whole not making eye contact thing really works for boys. For years, going to garage sales every Friday night was the thing we would do together.  Him and I driving around town together for a couple of hours, just chatting. Now don’t get me wrong, I love garage sales but I treasured that time together not for the deals I would get but for the gift of really getting to know my kid. Pretty awesome!

Years ago I shared this picture on my blog of my son “cleaning” his room. Gosh he was young and now this 16 year old boy is graduating next year. Oh my.

cleaning his room

So my kids have always had chores and of course homework and then jobs as they got older.  It’s a lot to manage. Sometimes you just need someone to act like a goof and make you laugh. That is my job and I take it very seriously :)  So whether it’s doing a silly dance around them or singing to them in an opera voice I work hard on getting them to crack a smile.  Some days I had to work harder than others.  Some days it was down right exhausting, but gosh when the corners of their mouths start to twitch and they can’t fight the smile any longer, my heart just explodes joy. Our own lives can get pretty stressful too with so many responsibilities and we should never ever underestimate the power of a good old fashion belly laugh.

Take last night for example. My son was working hard at the kitchen table doing his homework. He’d been there awhile and I thought he needed a break so I got down on my hands and knees and tried to sneak crawl into the kitchen to try and scare him. There is a breakfast bar separating the kitchen table and the kitchen entrance so he couldn’t see me.  Problem was I couldn’t stop giggling and I kept giving myself away.  Poor kid with the weirdo mom but the more I laughed, the more he laughed and it was just plain fun. Later he tried to do the same thing to me while I was lying in bed and he too got a case of the giggles.  He said to me, “you’re right it is hard to do this without laughing!”. Laughter is such great medicine.

This silliness continues with my daughter as well even though she is far away.  Anything from leaving silly messages with wacky voices on her phone to sending her care packages in the mail with a creepy cat pillow inside. It is such a joy to make my kids smile :)

creepy cat pillow

Last year, right after my daughter left home, I wrote a post sharing my thoughts on not rushing through life which you might also like.

The days are long but the years are short.

the days are long but the years are short

Now go do me proud and do something silly to make your kids laugh today and I’d love it if you came back to tell me about it in the comments.  I could really use the smile :)

Mwah!

Filed under: Kid Stuff, Motivation-Encouragement, My Life

Comments

14 Responses to What 19 years of parenting has taught me

  1. 1
    Michelle Spilman says

    Hi Laura!
    I read your article and wanted to let you know we did something fun too! We turned ourselves into “talking chins” I am sure you have seen people on YouTube who turn their head upside down cover the nose up and put eyes on the chin and talk or sing, It was hysterical! I liked your post!
    I am new to the blog world. I am on day 6 of getting it up and running. Please check me out at http://www.oblogoff.com
    Thanks! Have a great day!

  2. 2
    Lyn says

    my 22yo daughter lived at home while she attended college; she and her fiance bought a house in March and moved in. She lives within a 10 minute drive from my house; but I still miss her being at home. My 16yo son spends a lot of time at her house on the weekends, too, so I’m lonelier at home when he’s gone.

  3. 3
    Angela says

    I understand so very well. I, too, have a 19 yo (son) who is in his first year of college this year. And, a 16 yo (turning 17 this weekend) daughter. I heartily agree with all you said – chores, time to laugh, and talk. Yes, yes, and yes.

    • 3.1
      Laura Wittmann says

      Oh wow Angela, your kids are the same age as mine. I love having fun with my kids and just hanging out with them but there was a time when I didn’t stop to really enjoy them with all there was to do. So thankful that is no longer the case.

  4. 4
    Daria says

    Oh my, this one is tugging at my heartstrings. My daughter is a senior and currently deciding where to go to college. Where has the time gone? I plan to send her care packages too. I promise to make them silly :)

  5. 5
    MelanieL says

    Thank you for sharing what’s on your heart. We tend to look back at the baby & toddler stages and wish we would’ve enjoyed those years more but it is never too late to start enjoying your kids! Mine are 9 & 11 and although day to day life makes it hard, I do need to talk, listen, be silly, and just be still with them more. Thanks for the reminder, Laura, and all my best to you as you learn to parent an adult. :)

  6. 6
    Jill says

    Lovely post Laura. I can’t wrap my head around having a 22 year old senior in college.

    • 6.1
      Laura Wittmann says

      Do their birthdays without them ever get easier? We make birthdays such a huge deal here in this house and so the void is huge for me. I won’t know what to do with myself that day lol.

  7. 7
    Angela Dyson says

    I love this positive perspective. I try so hard as a single mum to do everything to the point I can forget who I am almost sometimes! I would add to having fun with your kids that it is VITAL as a mum to take care of yourself even when finances or time are hard to find! :)

    New to your blog, and hope to start one of my own soon it is so much fun to meet new people!

    • 7.1
      Laura Wittmann says

      Hi Angela and welcome to my blog! I totally agree with you, moms need downtime to recharge their batteries. Parenting is such a tough job and even harder for single mums!

  8. 8
    sydney says

    Parenting is very hard and rewarding at the same time. I really liked your post it was positive and encouraging. Sometimes I feel like once my toddler has started a new stage she is over it to fast! I have just created a blog about being a young mom and other journeys that i’m sure moms go though. Check it out http://www.mommaincreating.com/. Thanks so much for the read!

  9. 9
    yuni says

    Laura, I loved this post! I agree, laughter is really medicine for our souls. Thanks for sharing this:) You’re an awesome mom

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