“What’s Mom’s number one job?”I would ask my girls as they were growing up.
“To keep us healthy & safe”, they would dutifully recite.
Usually, the conversation would be full of “not fair” and “but why?” But when I got to this question, they knew it was the end of discussion.
Now that they are older, and I see them healthy and safe, this means more to me than ever. Especially in these times.
Don’t worry about being that perfect mother.
Growing up, I was not close to my mother. Mother’s Day gave me anxiety knowing that whatever I tried to do or to give it would not be good enough. I didn’t grow up in an affectionate household. The only time my Dad said “I love you” and “you’re beautiful” was during the toast at my wedding. No one in my family was a hugger. I was convinced I would never have kids simply because I had no idea how to have that maternal instinct. I would say, I don’t even know what a mom is supposed to do?
Mom’s Number One Job is to keep them healthy & safe. Physically safe. Mentally safe. Emotionally safe. Teach them critical thinking. Empathy. Problem-solving. Independence. Integrity. And a strong work ethic.
This means layering up over and under their Halloween costumes because it’s going to snow when they go trick or treating in Chicago. They will howl and cry and pout. You’ll check their candy when they get home. You’ll make them do their homework before they can play with their friends. They will have to cook a meal for the family once a week and do their own laundry. They will be taught, like everyone in the Midwest, to hold the door open for people, and say please and thank you.
What Moms Do
Mom’s job is when they have an IEP, mom goes in there and advocates for her kid. For the first few weeks, after kids are diagnosed with a heart condition, moms sleep on the floor next to their bed to make sure they are breathing. When they have a panic attack, Mom stops what she is doing and gives them a hug.
As a Mom, you watch them make mistakes, but not the kind of mistakes that cannot be undone. Mom’s number one job is always to keep them healthy and safe. Just the kind of mistakes that builds scar tissue. The ones that teach those life lessons where there’s no other way to learn.
And lately, helping them to understand that “seek more to life” doesn’t mean trips and travel and fun outside the house. It means finding hobbies. Taking time for self-care. Discovering and nurturing your passions. Music has always been a big part of our home. Kate plays several instruments, sings, and composes original music. That’s always been a big part of how she expresses herself. Anya “vibes” with music, as she says. I can usually tell what kind of mood she is in by the vinyl spinning on the record player. Her passion for discovering artists and collecting albums is a big part of who she is. I love having her get into some of my favorites as well, and its something we can bond over.
Our Shared Love of Music, Outdoors, Travel and Ren Faire
It was my choice to have the family-oriented vacations–meaning many, many trips to Disney, to keep that sense of magic and make-belief alive. If you ask my youngest if she wants to work at Disney when she grows up, she will tell you yes. Not as a Princess, but as an Imagineer designing rides. My trip out to Phoenix to see my best friend JD, Anya came along with me. I was able to show her a whole new world and a whole new side of me. I made her hike Pinnacle Peak and later she joined me and JD at a Foo Fighters concert.
This isn’t always easy. Like when my daughters went on a field trip to New York City and ended up stranded on Ellis Island from the rest of the school. Or when the high school shooting happened in our city, and shortly afterward my daughter was diagnosed with a serious genetic heart condition (read: How to Change Your Life Overnight). Don’t get me started on dating. Or taking your daughter outside for a photoshoot in her prom dress because the dance was canceled due to Coronavirus. Or when you go for a drive down Pacific Coast Highway for Mother’s Day and when they want to see the beach, you make them wear a face mask.
Like all parents, I look back and can’t believe how quickly time has flown. In a blink of an eye, braces are on and off; eyeglasses are swapped for contacts. We went from playing dress-up to them borrowing my makeup and clothes to them getting jobs and buying their own. They are suddenly taller than my 5’6″ frame. I’m grateful that my daughters and I are so close, especially not having that with my own mother and our relationship. I love that both of them are up for adventure and love to travel.
It’s Not Easy
We have had struggles. We are not perfect. They have never known any immediate family, outside of my husband and me, so it’s been hard sometimes to be their whole family experience. It’s hard not knowing if you are doing the parenting “the right way”. For a few years, I was traveling for my job and was gone almost every week Tuesday-Thursday. I learned quickly that its not just the quantity of time together, but the quality of time. Both have struggled with depression and anxiety, mostly tied into long term medical conditions over which they had no control. That’s the number one hardest thing as a mom: watching your child in pain and feeling hopeless. I have also learned how to argue with doctors. The doctors at the ER now know me by name as every time Anya’s heart rate acts up, we go in for an EKG.
My Mom Advice
If I were to give my kids advice if they have children one day: it is now your turn. Mom’s number one job is to always keep them healthy and safe. This is how you do that with your children.
– Protect them but keep them as innocent as you can as long as you can
-Talk to them like an adult, but be appropriate for their age
– Always build your relationship on honesty and trust. Remember that means to trust yourself as well. Follow your intuition.
-Stand up for yourself. Make your own decisions. Do not be pressured into anything.
-Beauty comes in many forms. The best way to bring out your beauty is to be confident.
-It’s never all or nothing. It’s never 100% right or wrong.
-Life is always changing. You will be happy and sad. Neither will stay very long.
-Always stand up for yourself and what you believe in, but never try to force others to have the same beliefs.
-Never lose the child inside you. Have fun. Be silly. Laugh a lot. Be a kid with them. Embrace creativity. Our favorite memories are dressing up for Renaissance Faire.
Finally, I want to share this post from my oldest daughter Katie made for me for Mother’s Day. The struggles, the tears, the sleepless nights, the long hours worked, and trading Paris for Disneyland—this makes it all worth it.
Katie Joins WhereGalsWander
To say that I owe it all to my mom would be an understatement. Happy Mother’s Day, I’m so grateful of all that you have done to me and all the sacrifices you made for me, I’m a strong woman all because of you. 💛
I WILL NOT APOLOGIZE FOR THE WAY THAT I LOOK. 🦋
I’ve always been uncomfortable in front of a camera. I never knew how to pose, or what face to make, and wondered how it came so naturally to other people when I awkwardly forced it every time, and it was because I didn’t feel pretty.
Confidence is key. As my mom said, “I prefer to have my photo taken not when I’m feeling pretty, but when I feel the most strong, brave, or courageous. Sometimes I need to look back and remind myself who I am. I don’t need to be pretty. I need to be badass.”
And that’s where beauty comes from. It comes from confidence, ambition, and character, not physical appearance. 🌟 #wheregalswander
It’s Fine. I’m Fine. Everything is Fine.
Katie is turning nineteen soon. She is now officially a woman. She watches the sunset with me every night. We talk about traveling the world together. She is now sharing some of her own stories through WhereGalsWander. We talk about how having an impact goes beyond just mother to daughter. That everyone can have an impact to shape, to inspire, to love unconditionally. She’s now starting on her own quest to discover that There’s More to Life. Lately, we’ve been shifting our lesson to everything will be fine. Stay safe, stay healthy, and always have hope.
Final Note: Take Time for Yourself
You can’t fill up someone else with love, energy, and encouragement when your cup is empty. My girls know I also need my “me time” to be alone and recharge. They see me go traveling on my own and see my independence. They know I have to have my time with my friends, my hobbies, my “stuff”. I have to show them to find out who you are, you need to explore what’s important to you.
Hey Zanne, such a beautiful write up, enjoyed reading it❤️. All our imperfections put together make us perfor each other. Love Vani (Bunny)
Lovely insight into your family life Zanne. Your childhood sounds a lot like mine. Affection wasn’t big in my house either. But I think you figure your own path when you become a parent. I think I’m different to how my parents were. I see you are the same.