Reflections from the Mother of a Bride
By Donna Longino
Recently, I watched my oldest child, now a woman grown, try on wedding gowns. To say she looked beautiful would be an understatement. She was, in my eyes, ACHINGLY beautiful. My little princess, my exasperating firstborn has been replaced with a woman on a mission. Shannon is planning one of life’s major milestones – The Wedding – despite the fact that the designated date is more than a year away. Yes, she’s focused and organized. Ah well, the apple never really does fall very far from the tree!
When she finally found a dress she liked, my little girl looked at me, all aglow in the elegant abundance of Vera Wang, and said, “Mom, I know this one costs a lot, but one day, I can give it to my daughter.” The tears flowed…she had me. But then, she’s had my heart for 26 years; and one day, in the years ahead, I’ll give my heart to the child of my child. And on the day my baby has a baby, here’s what I want to make sure she, as a brand new mother, knows.
Here’s what I wish I had known…
Cut yourself some slack
You’re going to do your very best to be the best mother ever and sometimes your best won’t be enough. You’ll make mistakes. You’ll say or do the wrong thing. You will lose your mind momentarily and every ounce of your patience on more than one occasion and you’ll regret doing both. But you will lay down your life to preserve the life of your child…so cut yourself some slack. There is no “perfect mother” – there’s only you and that is all your child really wants and needs.
Let the laundry slide
Society convinced my generation that we could have it all — a successful career…a loving marriage…well-adjusted children…a beautifully decorated, immaculate home…and the retention of our pre-baby bodies. Women have come a long way, baby, but you really can’t have it all. Something’s gotta give. So don’t beat yourself up when you can’t lose the baby weight…or you don’t get that promotion…or your kid seems to live in time-out. Make your marriage THE priority, but let the laundry slide. Life is about making choices. Make sure you’re the one making yours because you, and now your baby, have to live with them.
Mothering means you
Kids need mom and dad in equal measure, but that doesn’t mean we perform the same role. Don’t expect dad to parent like you do. He’s not the Mom. You are. So, get ready. Dad may sleep through the wails of “Mommy, my tummy hurts!” or “Mommy, I’m scared!” that willpopulate your nights. You’ll be the one who knows shoe sizes and where to find the pediatrician’s phone number, and when the next vaccination is due. You’re the Mom.
When in doubt — love
No matter how many books you read or friends you ask, there may still be times when you just don’t know what to do as a mother. You’ll feel scared, overwhelmed and lost. When in doubt – love. Remember that tough love is required at times. One of the most loving things you can do as a mother is to teach your child that choices have consequences. But in those moments, and there will be many, in which you’re just not sure – always err on the side of love.
Donna Longino is a freelance writer who, thanks to a blended family, gets to mother Shannon and Megan as well as her husband’s five children, John, Trevor, Rollin, James and Tiana. Donna and her husband, John, love to travel and Donna records her life on the road at http://www.lifeizgudontheroad.wordpress.com/.
She’s also a really good person who focuses on what really matters in life (as you can tell from this post). In fact, her advice even made it into a story in my book. I went to her when I was about to quit my job in a blaze of foul-mouthed glory. She looked me right in the eye and told me I was depressed and to call my gynecologist. I did; she was right. The next day I came into work and on my chair was a little charm that said “All will be well.” And it is.
Thanks for your support, Donna. Then, and now.