One of my biggest blessings in life calls me mom.

The other one calls me sweetheart.

I was blessed to have a mother who wanted to be home with me and my sisters, and was able to work the shift at the post office that allowed her to be home when we returned from school, usually with some sort of homemade treat awaiting us at the homework table.

She was band mom, soccer mom, gymnastics mom, softball coach, judo mom, swim mom, Girl Scout mom, sports coach for our Young Women at church, even camp mom. And she did it all with a smile on her face. Even after her and my father divorced, leaving her with three girls to raise on her own.

I think the thing I appreciated most, and I truly wasn’t able to appreciate this until later in life, was that she rarely ever let us see the hardship she was going through, all while trying to raise three respectable young women. I can count on one hand the number of times I saw her crying because she didn’t know how she would be able to pay rent or utilities, or when the car, vacuum, and our basic 10 channel cable all went out in the same day. She mastered fun and free, not because it was a fad to see how much you could do for the smallest amount of money, but because she wanted to make sure her girls still new adventure, fun, and wanted to make special memories with us. I could list a number of things us three girls complained about back then, but secretly love the creativity of those moments now. And, to be honest, hindsight is 20/20. We now understand on a higher level what our mom was trying to do for us girls. Because we are all moms.

I am a bit OCD when it comes to certain things. I am used to having things in certain places, and I’m a bit of a perfectionist. So you can imagine how great that is with a toddler. 😂 Yet, it’s amazing how much our little girl has reminded me to just let things be. As she grows, I continue to make promises to her, and to myself. To help me be a better mother, and to allow her to be an individual, with a mind of her own, filled with imagination and creativity.

I don’t ever want to hold her back from trying things. So when she comes to me and asks to help, whether it’s sitting on my lap while I sew, and moving a little slower to let her guide the material through, or letting her stir things on the stove while I cook, I let her do those things. I never want her to think that she can’t do something.

I encourage imagination and creativity through reading, science projects, and freestyle art, so she can go wherever her mood sends her.

I listen to what she has to say, and treat it with importance, so that she will learn to have a kind ear.

I apologize to her for things. Whether it’s a moment when mommy sincerely just lost her shit, or I’ve accidentally bumped into her, I say I’m sorry. I want her to know that everyone needs to be respectful of others, and how our actions affect people around us.

I use my manners. I say please, thank you, and excuse me, and you know what that has done? It’s caused her to do the same. We were actually at the park the other day, and as she was passing kids in a tunnel, she was saying, “Excuse me” as she moved passed them.

I tell her she is beautiful, and special, and smart, and amazing. I want her to hear positive things about herself so much, so that when she runs into the occasional bully, and she will, and they start spewing words of hate and telling her things about herself that are absolutely not true, she will, hopefully, hold onto those positive words she has heard so often, that she doesn’t let the bad in enough to tear her apart,  unable to move forward with her life.

I encourage her to try things. I know we’re talking about a three year old, but this little girl is absolutely amazing!! So when she comes to me for help on something, I ask her what she’s trying to do, and I ask her questions about how to move forward. What do you think we need to do next? Where does that go? Instead of just doing something for her, I am encouraging her to think logically about something, and weigh her options.

Nobody ever said life would be easy. And there is definitely no manual to reference when things get rough. I know I won’t always be the person my daughter wants to run to with every problem that she has in life, I’m not that naive. I can only hope I have given her enough tools for life to help her make the best decisions, and that she knows she can always come to me when she needs to.

Just like my mother taught me.