My mom, who raised 9 children, is the queen of perfectly placed sayings.
Sometimes they are funny. Sometimes sentimental. And always, always helpful. Her words might help you surrender to it all, find comfort, or, though you might feel alone, make you feel part of a shared experience.
As a mother of four I quote her often, with my favorite being, “You do the best you can with the information you have available to you at the time.”
With hindsight having perfect vision, it’s easy to retroactively second guess our decisions about which path we chose or didn’t choose, whether we used formula or nursed, had one child or six, used child care or stayed at home. It’s easy to think we should have pushed when we pulled, remained quiet when we might have spoken up, or wished we had sat on the sidelines instead of stepping in.
But at the time we chose to do what we did, we did it based on the information we had.
As parents we must trust ourselves, and certainly forgive ourselves, knowing we are capable, thinking, feeling, intelligent people, doing the best we possibly can, every…single…day.
We can learn for the future, but we shouldn’t beat ourselves up for the past. And if you do, remember what my mom said.
My mom, my sister and I at the beach last year
Find your people.
If you move away from family — or if family doesn’t give you what you’re seeking — know that things are easier when life is lived in the web of your people.
Find your mama friends and your single friends. Find the ones that make you feel good and encourage you to be your true self. The ones that make you laugh and make you cry with the beauty of it all. Find those who can take your kids at a moment’s notice, or whisk you away for an evening out, or who will squeeze themselves into a too small table in order to share a meal, no matter what food is being served.
Find the ones who are happy being themselves, the ones who make you think about all life’s possibilities. Find the ones who love and appreciate you, and have genuinely nice things to say about who you are and about life in general.
Whatever you call it, your tribe, your chosen family, find your people, make them a part of your life, and surround yourself with them as often as you can.
While there is a list of books a mile long that I’d recommend: CALMS: A Guide to Soothing Your Baby by Carrie Contey, Between Parent and Teenager by Haim Ginott, or Stop Arguing with Your Kids by Michael Nichols, the thing that makes my parenting way easier is a product.
Years ago, when my children were small, I found 4 white ceramic divided plates at the thrift store. These were old school, dining hall variety and have become the vessel for what we call, “white plate dinner.”
White plate dinner is called for when the cupboard is bare, when the fridge holds only little bits of many leftovers, or when the cook’s imagination is tapped.
On such nights, the plates are lined up on the counter. In each of their slots, random items of whatever can be scavenged are placed.
When the kids see the plates lined up on the counter, there is great excitement. They LOVE white plate dinner; even as the oldest nears 16.
This simple plate makes the dregs into something celebratory.
And, in fact, could be viewed as a metaphor for many aspects of family life – the mundane into fun, the utilitarian into a fête, the tasks and have-tos into something to look forward to.
And honestly, who couldn’t use a little more of that?
Contributor: Bernadette from Slow Family Living
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