Hello SOTGC community,
I remember the day I brought my first-born home from the hospital. I was 20, single, and scared out of my mind. I looked down at that tiny creature in his crib, overwhelmed by how I could so completely love someone I’d only just met, yet paralyzed with fear and self-doubt.
What the hell am I doing? I can’t even keep a fern alive, what makes me think I can take care of a whole human? Everyone’s right. I’m too young. I’m gonna screw it up. I’m gonna screw HIM up!
That was over 24 years ago. I still can’t keep a fern alive, but I’m happy to report that both kids made it out practically unscathed.
This month the youngest one graduated from high school. As I face this next chapter (the one in which I come home from work and there are exactly the same amount of dirty dishes in the sink as when I left that morning) I can’t help but reflect upon the past … gulp … quarter-century of my life as a working mom.
If I could go back in time, what would I say to that frantic young woman? What words of advice could I provide that would help her sit back, take a breath, and just enjoy the ride?
Hey, younger Casey…
- At 23 you’re going to fall head-over-heals for an amazing man who wants to marry you, to be your equal partner in love, parenting, and life. Do it! Choosing him turns out to be the smartest decision you’ll ever make.
- Go to the soccer games and school events whenever possible. Looking back you won’t remember the days you had to leave the office early, or the nights you had to bring work home. You will, however, remember the precious time you were there to support your kids…and so will they.
- But, when life happens and you don’t make it to a few soccer games, cut yourself some slack already!
- If there were an instruction manual for working moms it would be titled 5000 Shades of Grey. In other words – there are no simple, black-and-white answers. Trust your instincts, even when the condescending witch at daycare tries to tell you how you’re mucking it up.
- Being a working mom is hard. Being a stay-at-home mom is hard. It’s not a contest so don’t get caught up in the whole us-versus-them bullshit.
- There are gonna be nights when the last thing you feel like doing is reading that same stupid bedtime story for the zillionth time. Do it anyway. The way you use the different voices to bring the characters to life will become one of their favorite childhood memories.
- Go on vacation without the kids. Enjoy the romantic getaways with your husband and the annual girls’ weekend at the beach with zero guilt. You’re a better wife/mother/professional when you take the time to recharge and remember who you are as a person.
- When you screw up – and boy howdy, you WILL screw up – swallow your parental pride and apologize sincerely. This is by far one of the most important lead-by-example lessons you will ever teach your kids. Trust me.
- When all is said and done the only thing that really matters is that your children know they are loved beyond measure. You will achieve that. Relax, everything else is just gravy.
What about you? What advice would you give your younger self? Please share your words of wisdom below.