I’m Not Sure How to Mom Anymore

sports

I.

I have two sons.  In just a month, they will be 11 and 13.  And our home, well, it’s not the same as it used to be.  There are basketballs and gym shoes, shin guards and dirty socks at every turn.  There is a constant search for missing earbuds and phone chargers, and “pump up” music, the kind that plays before sporting events, has become the soundtrack of our lives.  There is a funky smell here, a mingling of stinky shoe, sweaty uniform, and Axe body wash, that wafts through the air.  And it is next to impossible to keep snacks stocked in the cabinets.  Almost-teen boys are a lot less snips and snails and puppy dog tails and a lot more bottomless stomach.

I don’t mind wrangling the socks and washing the uniforms, and I’m learning to hide my favorite snacks from the scavengers who live here.  I know to watch for loose balls at the bottom of the stairs, and I’m an expert at hunting for “lost” equipment as we are running late to practice, again.  I don’t even mind the stinky smell.  I mean, I don’t like the stinky smell, but I’m becoming desensitized.  And my mother-in-law buys me candles, so that helps.

What I do mind is that these simple, insignificant changes signal something bigger, a shift in my responsibilities as a parent, a change in what motherhood means.  The canary that represents childhood at our house is barely hanging onto its perch.  I’ve been trying to resuscitate it, but it isn’t working, and the thought of a dead canary here nearly stops my heart from beating, too.

My little boys aren’t so little now, and I don’t really know what I’m doing.  I’m not sure I know how to mom anymore.

I was skilled at rocking my sleeping babies.
I was quick at chasing my busy toddlers.
I was smart at exploring the woods with my curious preschoolers.
I was impressive at creating crafts and experiments for my kindergarteners.
I was even good at teaching my inquisitive elementary students to read.

But I don’t know how to parent 10 and 12.

 

 

II.

A few weeks before Christmas, my younger son begged me to chaperone his concert rehearsal for fifth- and sixth-graders who play strings.  He pleaded with me several times, and I changed the subject several times, mostly because missing work usually creates more work for me in one way or another.  But he persisted, and the teacher sent out a code red that said something like “We are in need of chaperones” but that sounded to me like “These kids will never amount to anything if none of their mothers even care, for goodness sakes.”  And also I realized that my little boy is 10, and he was begging me to go, and in just a few short months he may be begging me NOT to.

So I signed up.

On the morning of the rehearsal, I was excited to spend a little extra time with my son.  I waited in the office until the secretary released the students for the trip and boys and girls rushed into the hallway with music books and backpacks and violins.  I hurried to the bus to welcome them and watched through the window as my son and his friends approached.  Soon he boarded, giggling and chatting with his classmates, who quickly shuffled past my row to claim the seats in the back.

He may have said hi as he passed by.

I’m not exactly sure.

But I am sure that there was no hug, no I’m-so-glad-you’re-here-Mom, not even a pause for a chat or a fist bump.  There was nothing, really, to indicate that the two of us were any more related than any other pair of people on that bus.

The rehearsal went off without a hitch, and soon we were boarding again to head back to the elementary school.  On the return trip, I glanced behind me every once in a while to see what was happening in the seats in the rear.  The kids talked and joked and laughed and enjoyed escaping the classroom for an hour or two.  When the bus doors opened once again, the students hastily exited to return to class.  And the kid who had begged me to chaperone this trip scurried down the hallway without ever looking back.

And that was that.

My dog wagged her tail and jumped excitedly when I got home, which soothed my fear that I had turned invisible after leaving the house in the morning.  I checked the mirror and pinched myself just to be sure.

Yep.  I’m still here.

Later that evening, to my surprise, my ten-year-old thanked me for going on the field trip “with” him.  He was so happy that I had taken a few hours off work to ride that bus, even though it had seemed like my presence didn’t matter at all.  The truth was that he never intended to spend time with me on the way to his rehearsal.  He just wanted to know that, when given two choices, I would choose him.

Thank goodness I did.  Because I came very close to failing that test. 

I may have felt a bit neglected that morning, but I knew exactly where to sit at the concert that night for a perfect view of my son and his cello.

So there’s that, too.

This is what parenting 10 looks like.

 

 

III.

Last Friday, my older son’s middle school basketball team was recognized during half-time of the varsity game at the high school.  It was a big deal to us.  But as we finalized our plans for the evening, he seemed unexpectedly stressed.

“Mom,” he said, looking conflicted, “you can just drop me off at the high school.  I mean, if you want to, that’s fine.”

Drop him off?  Was this kid serious?

This was going to be a sweet moment.  I mean, he was wearing a freaking bow tie, and they were announcing his name, you know, over the loud speaker.  In front of a big crowd.  At a varsity basketball game.

No, drop off is not an option.   

“Okay, yeah, well, I really want you to be there, Mom.”

Yes . . . I know that. . . So what am I missing?

“But it’s okay if I hang out with my team, right?  You won’t care, will you?”

Oooooooooooohhhhhhhhhhh.

Of courseYour team.  Right.  Your friends.  For sure.  Absolutely.  I mean, that will be perfect because I really just wanted to concentrate on the game anyway. 

Yeah.

So my son played it cool with his teammates while I sat alone in a gym packed with people since the rest of the family had other things to do.  It was different.  But I enjoyed observing my son from a distance, seeing the whole picture of who he is without the distraction of the details.  I enjoyed watching how he interacted with his friends and  admiring the young man he has become.  I know I’m his mom, but, really, that kid is pretty amazing.

I didn’t mind cheering for the home team while he socialized since I love watching basketball, too.   But I was shocked that night, because something about high school has definitely changed, and very recently, I think, because I have been teaching high school for thirteen years and I have never noticed.

Get ready for this.  Grab a chair because it’s crazy.  Ready?

High school boys LOOK JUST LIKE GROWNUP MEN now!

Seriously, when did this start happening?  And why aren’t we researching how to make this stop?

I looked at the players in disbelief, imagining what my grown sons will look like and wondering how ALL of those changes can possibly happen in the next few years.  It seems impossible.  Glimpses of the future flashed through my mind, tempered by glimpses of the past, when I was cheering from the student section and my husband was the high school basketball player and everyone loitered at Burger King or ran through the Taco Bell drive thru after the game.

Time is not a distance runner.  He is a sprinter.  He races past at an incredible speed.  Kids grow up, and adults get old, and moments pass quickly and are lost forever.  Our only hope of bottling yesterday is to preserve its memories.  And that only works if we take time to make them.

While we were at the high school that night, my son touched base with me only once.

Yes, when he needed money.

But on our way home, he talked and talked and talked about the events of the evening and the conversation he had with a former coach and the funny things that happened with his friends.  And the two of us decided to run through Taco Bell, just like my friends and I did in high school, even though we had already eaten dinner, even though it was after ten o’clock at night.

I wonder if, ten years from now, he will remember eating those tacos with his mom after a varsity basketball game in 2017.

I hope that he will.

This is what parenting 12 looks like.

 

 

IV.

When I started teaching, I worked at a rural high school in southeastern Ohio with a man named Jim Williams.  Jim Williams was tall and serious and a respected veteran teacher.  He had a dry sense of humor and a quick wit, and it seemed to me that he had read every piece of literature that had ever been written.  He was also the chair of the English department, so he was, at least in my mind, my boss.

I was a novice, still learning the ropes and finding my confidence, and Jim Williams was never anything but kind to me when I worked with him.  But, because of my own insecurities as a young teacher, I felt about fifteen years old whenever we spoke.  My mind defaulted from being the high school teacher to being just another student, although he always treated me as a respected colleague.

So Jim Williams and I didn’t chat very often, mostly because I was more comfortable feeling my real age of twenty-something than defaulting to an anxious fifteen.  When I needed professional advice, he was helpful, but I didn’t hang around long enough to discuss the news or the weather or my life outside of school.  The English wing had no extra room for me, so I could easily escape to my classroom by the gym with any seeds of wisdom he had shared.

In hindsight, I should have devoted more time to learning from Jim Williams than to hiding from him because he shared some of the best advice that I have ever been given.

And it had nothing to do with teaching.

It was a gloomy winter day at the high school when I received a message that my baby boy was sick and I would need to be home for the next couple of days.  Not only was I striving to excel as a teacher at that time, but I was also just learning to juggle the demands of teaching and motherhood.  Before having a baby, I rarely used a sick day, and I often continued working after school until late into the evening.  I took pride in my commitment and my creativity and all of the extra hours that I logged.  I don’t remember exactly what I said to Jim Williams that day, but I imagine that it was some version of an apology for needing to be home.

What I do remember clearly is that he stopped me – so that he could say something profound instead of listening to my nonsense.

Jim Williams said, “There will always be another teacher, Mary Ann.”

Oooooooh.  That burns.  I mean, I’ve been trying really hard to be the best and to do the most and to keep all the plates spinning.  You haven’t even noticed?

He wasn’t finished.

“There will always be another teacher, Mary Ann, but your son will never have another mother.”

See.  I told you he was smart.

Yes, it stung, but I understood what Jim Williams was saying.  He wasn’t telling me that I was easily replaceable or that my teaching wasn’t up to his expectations.  He wasn’t saying that hiring a substitute for a day or two would be equal to my presence in the classroom.  But he was telling me to take a deep breath and prioritize.  And I needed that.  Because sometimes I was so worried about being the best teacher for my students that I wasn’t being the best mother for my baby, even when I was at home with him at night.

Jim Williams was saying that my presence as a mother matters.

And I have never forgotten that.

 

 

V.

Maybe raising 10 and 12 isn’t as complicated as I think it is.  Maybe it’s mostly about presence, about “choosing” the people we love and connecting with them whenever and however we can.  Maybe it’s as simple as being in the same place, even when we are all in separate rooms doing separate things.  Maybe it’s just about being.  Maybe just being is exactly what my sons need.

Don’t get me wrong.  We eat dinner as a family and play games together.  We plan fun events and talk and spend time with grandparents and friends.  Those things are important.

But there are many more hours now when I am not chasing anyone or disciplining anyone or teaching anyone about fractions or saving anyone from harm.

There are many more hours now when I am just here.

And that’s okay.

Maybe parenting 10 and 12 is being close enough to come to the rescue but far enough away to let my children take a chance.  Maybe it’s watching them climb the tall, scary ladder, and then holding the safety net under the tightrope they are walking to become men.

The minutes, they pass quickly, and there is no buying them back when the canary’s song fades.  So maybe I just need to relax, enjoy the journey, and remember that just being matters.

And maybe it matters the most when it seems like it doesn’t matter at all.

 

 

Image Source: Steven Depolo under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic

 

Finding Elizabeth

The Elizabeth that I knew lived in a nursing home.  She was elderly and frail.  I don’t remember seeing her stand or even sit up.  I remember her as a tiny, fragile lump beneath the covers.  Her lips were dry, and her words were mumbled, and she was hard for me to understand.

I remember that it smelled in that place.  It smelled like everything awful, and it smelled like the chemicals that tried to wash the awful away. I was five-years-old.  What I remember most is that I did not like to go there.

We went there because my mother loved Elizabeth.  She said that something tragic had happened to Elizabeth once.  She said the people closest to Elizabeth claimed that she had never been the same after that.  My mother had fond memories of her.  She knew Elizabeth.  She knew her heart.  But for me, at five-years-old, the two of us had nothing in common.  Elizabeth, to me, was lost.

Until I found her in a box of old letters.

Letters

In 1944, Elizabeth was living in Ohio with her husband, raising two children and devoting her time to her home and family, like most women of her generation.  Her eldest daughter had already married and moved a few hours away.  Elizabeth was probably still adjusting to this change, one of her chicks leaving the nest.  But Betty was safe.  She was happy.  She was protected and she was loved.  Elizabeth missed Betty, but she knew that Betty was okay.

Her eldest son, Charles Jr., however, was another story.  The distance between Elizabeth and her son did not escape her.  She could never, not even for one moment, take his safety for granted.  Every joy was tempered by her worry that Charles might be cold or hungry, depressed or homesick, or, worse yet, injured or imprisoned.

Charles had enlisted to serve in the United States military.  Somewhere far away, on the other side of the globe even, he was fighting in World War II.  Her heart was so proud of his selfless courage, but it was equally crushed by the weight of her fears for the safety of her son.

Portrait Closeup

Elizabeth listened to radio broadcasts and read newspaper articles about the developments during the war, but what was happening on the frontlines still seemed distant.  News was not instant, and the images were static.  Life at home continued, as normally as possible.  She had teenagers to care for, Lewis and Maxine, and her daily routines helped to keep her occupied.

And she had letters.

Charles wrote regularly, and Elizabeth wrote to him often, as well, sending packages to remind him how much he was missed.  He enjoyed her gifts, like the peanuts she sent that he shared with his friends and fellow soldiers.  Occasionally, he asked her to send specific things that he needed, and she always obliged.  He shared funny stories, like the time that a deer sneaked into the barracks and ate all of the snacks, and he told her about the Abbott and Costello movie that they had watched for entertainment.  His letters were upbeat and positive.  War didn’t sound so scary at all.

Letters from Charles never mentioned danger.  They never described exactly what he was assigned to do or even where he was.  He mentioned that he censored his letters so that they would be approved to leave the base, leaving Elizabeth to wonder what he was omitting.  He often looked forward to the day he would come home, and he always signed off with the same encouraging closing: “Thumbs up!”

As the oldest boy in the family, Charles was full of advice, especially for his younger brother, Lewis.  Even from across the globe, he advised Lewis about girlfriends and class schedules.  He told Lewis to keep his options open with the ladies, even though Charles himself was clearly sweet on one young lady, Doris, whose name was mentioned frequently in his letters.  He asked Lewis to send him pictures so that he could stay connected to what was happening at home.  He told Lewis what classes he should take in high school and was clearly disgusted, even in the midst of war, when his little brother did not take his advice.

Charles was thoughtful, as well, remembering his mother on important dates throughout the year.  He must have known how much she worried about him.  His Mother’s Day message in 1944, so simple and plain, was the most beautiful Mother’s Day gift that Elizabeth could have received while he was gone.  Her tears, as clear as glass, left no stains on the precious letters from her son overseas, letters that she opened oh-so-carefully.

Mother's Day

Elizabeth must have read her Mother’s Day note a thousand times before safely tucking it away in the box where she kept all of Charles’ letters.  Gently touching that paper, running her fingers across his ink on the page, was the closest that she could come to embracing her son.  To the world, these men in uniform were so strong and so brave.  But to her, Charles was so very young, hardly a man himself, really.  Just a few years before, he had still needed her advice, her reassuring touch, her loving care.  She had gently washed and bandaged his skinned knees not all that long ago.  Yet now he and so many young men like him had been entrusted to save the world.

Charles Closeup

Days and months passed, and Charles remained at war.  Elizabeth was comforted by his letters, but sometimes there were long spans between them, and this made her nervous.  If she waited long enough, another letter always came.  It would include an apology for the long delay, explaining that he had been quite busy with his responsibilities, although exactly what his duties were was a bit of a mystery.  Each letter provided some  solace, but Elizabeth knew that by the time she received it, time had already passed, and the reassurance of his safety was actually old news.  As soon as one note was received, she eagerly awaited the next.

In the meantime, Elizabeth loyally supported her son from afar.  She hung a  banner in the family’s front window for everyone to see and took Maxine’s picture in front of it.

Flag  Flag in Window

And she clung to a poem (author unknown) that criticized the discontent of those who weren’t directly in the line of fire.  How dare someone complain about rationing when her son’s life was on the line?

Poem

In January 1945, Elizabeth received a letter with a little more information than usual.  Charles’ letters had been few and far between for a while now, but in this one he shared, “We are now allowed to say that we are someplace in the Philippine Islands.”  What a relief it was to know where her son was actually located!  She could point to it on a map.  She could imagine the climate and the scenery where he was.  “I have picked up a few more souvenirs,” he said, although he explained that he wouldn’t be able to send them for a while.  Someday, she thought, they would look at those souvenirs together, and he would tell her interesting stories about the culture and the merchants there and how much he had paid for the beautifully crafted and exotic gifts.

In Phillipines

As always, Charles had asked for more letters.  Over the previous months, their letters, flying back and forth across the sky and over the ocean, had created an invisible web that kept them connected, mother and son.  Even when there was nothing to write about, Elizabeth kept writing.  She would write and write and write, about nothing and about everything, until she could finally see Charles face to face once more.

And there, in the bottom of the box, I found them.  The two letters, stamped March 19, 1945 and April 16, 1945.

In the first envelope, Elizabeth had neatly tucked a letter full of updates for her son.  The news from home was nothing out of the ordinary.  Lewis has a cold.  Maxine recently visited Betty.  The snow has melted, and Doris performed well in the show last night.

But the war still loomed like a dark cloud over the small town in Ohio.  Charles, of course, was abroad.  There was concern that John could be drafted after being reclassified to 1A.  And Chet, another local boy, was being held captive in an enemy prison camp.  “Thumbs up” was now “Keep praying.”

Return to Sender Close

And then there was a second letter from Elizabeth, a letter mailed in March of 1945.  Elizabeth wrote about the recent flooding in the area and how the mail had been delayed.  There wasn’t much to share, really.  The news at home was mostly uneventful.   The letter was a bit mundane.

But then, the ending.  A simple statement that was dripping with emotion.

“Have not heard from you for 5 weeks . . . Write.  Love, Mother.”

And their standard closing, “Thumbs up.”

Five Weeks

And something in my stomach turned, and my throat tightened at the thought of Elizabeth’s anguish, her desperate wait for a response.  The sadness rushing to my eyes threatened to interrupt the story when I realized that here, in this box full of letters from Charles, I was holding two letters from Elizabeth.  Two love letters from a mother to her son.  Two letters that she had mailed to the Philippines.

Two letters that should not be in this box of mail that she had received.

Two letters that confirmed that what she had always feared had come true.

The Elizabeth that I knew lived in a nursing home.  She was elderly and frail.  I don’t remember seeing her stand or even sit up.  I remember her as a tiny, fragile lump beneath the covers.  Her lips were dry, and her words were mumbled, and she was hard for me to understand.

My mother said that something tragic had happened to Elizabeth once.  She said the people closest to Elizabeth claimed that she had never been the same again.  But my mother loved Elizabeth; she had fond memories of her grandmother.  For me, at five-years-old, my great-grandmother and I had nothing in common.  Elizabeth, to me, was lost.

Until I met Elizabeth, a young mother of sons, just like me, a mother who loved courageously and prayed steadfastly and hoped fiercely for the well being of her greatest treasures, her children.

Until I found her in a box of old letters.

We often associate love stories with courtship and romance, but maybe, just maybe, there is no greater love story than the love between a mother and her son.

 

 

“I Love Our Hugs” and Other Lessons From the Experts

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There are lots of “experts” out there sharing advice about quality parenting, but the opinions that REALLY matter come from our own sons and daughters.  After sifting through over 400 statements that your kids shared about their moms this week, I am thrilled to report that THE REAL EXPERTS SAY THAT YOU ARE DOING AN EXCELLENT JOB! If there is room in their budgets to give you a raise, you just might get one this year. . . but you will probably have to increase their allowances first.

I know that you will enjoy reading about how our sons and daughters (ages 3 to 46) perceive their mothers differently as they mature from preschoolers to adults.  Some responses will make you laugh, and some will touch your heart.  Their answers speak for themselves, but a few trends deserve mention.  First, it seems that we moms expend a lot of breath saying, “I love you.” AND THIS MATTERS. Trust me.  Our kids mentioned it over and over and over again.  If you ever worried about saying it too much or if you thought about dialing it back as your kids get older, DON’T.  Second, no matter how busy life gets, always reserve some time to snuggle.  You might be surprised how often this was mentioned – and by sons AND daughters – and by “kids” of ALL ages.  Third, our sons and daughters treasure ANY TIME when they are getting our undivided attention.  It doesn’t even matter what we are doing with them.  How do I know?  Because that’s what THEY said.

Finally, Trenton, age 11, reminded me that sometimes aunts and grandmas play a significant role in a kid’s life, too.  His aunt and grandma laugh at his jokes, take him places, and care for him, and they deserve a Mother’s Day salute, too!

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY, EVERYONE!  ENJOY!

 

  1. If my mom becomes famous, it will be for…

Volunteering so much (Brooke, age 15)
Sewing (Katelyn, age 6)
Baking the most delicious homemade pies (Calandra, age 36)
Her minivan driving skills (Kate, age 14)
Her haircutting abilities (Will, age 9)
How much she likes her kids (Ivy, age 5)
Being a movie star (Declan, age 4)
Her awesome cooking (Maggie, age 7)
Helping people (Amelia, age 9)
MURDER. Just kidding. My mom will probably be famous for writing a bestseller. (Dominic, age 19)
Being a teacher (Samuel, age 4)
Our family’s farmer’s market (Ezra, age 26)
Inventing something useless but cool (Joel, age 13)
Singing (Connor and Evan, age 10)
Running (Marin, age 3)
Typing fast (Coen, age 9)
Writing a book (Gavin, age 11)
Being the world’s greatest mom (Jared, age 11)
Watching 100 kids at a time (Hannah, age 8)
Being nice (Ethan, age 6)

  1. One thing that makes my mom different from other moms is…

She takes me frog catching (Mark, age 11)
She likes tools, all kinds of tools (Keara, age 10)
She is always in my business (Brooke, age 15)
Her horrible dance moves (Brody, age 8)
She wears slippers during the day (Kate, age 5)
Her hair. Because she has blond hair. And she has some white. (Aislinn, age 5)
Her unending generosity and hospitality. Everyone who comes into her house is at home. (Calandra, age 36)
Whenever I’m down, my mom always notices even when I try to hide it, and she always cares enough to make me feel better. (Patrick, age 16)
She’s more introverted than most moms, but I love that about her (Kate, age 14)
She doesn’t care what others think about her (Caralyn, age 12)
Her face is different (Ivy, age 5)
She is the nicest person and sweet and pretty and I love her (Rachel, age 11)
She keeps things real – no sugar coating the truth! (Chloe, age 23)
She lets me be spoiled (Gabe, age 9)
She makes her own medicines with essential oils (Amelia, age 9)
She’s been through a whole lot, so she is really a wealth of practical experience in so many ways (Dominic, age 19)
She drives really fast (Leah, age 4)
She takes time to listen to me (Kyle, age 9)
She is caring to every child (Hannah, 8)
She’s way cooler (Jamison, age 11)

  1. My mom always says…

“I love you” (Mark, age 11, and many, MANY others!)
“Get out of the shower!” (Luke, age 14)
“Don’t push me! I have two more kinds of crazy and I am not afraid to use them!” (Keara, age 10)
“Never say never.” (Carson, age 9)
“No.” (Katelyn, age 6 and Aislinn, age 5)
“Call me when you get there.” (Patrick, age 16)
“Be yourself.” (Caralyn, age 12)
“Be nice!!!” (Grant, age 3)
“Only you, Rachel! Ha, ha!” (Rachel, age 11)
“Time to clean up.” (Declan, age 4)
“Go wash your hands” (Leah, age 4)
“Hurry up! You are going to be late!” (Ezra, age 26)
“Because I said so.” (Joel, age 13)
“Attitude is everything!” (Evan, age 10)
“Change the channel!” (Connor, age 10)
“Gavin, you’re grounded!” (Gavin, age 11)
“Be quiet!” (Noah, age 12)
“Don’t talk back.” (Jared, age 11)
“I’m so proud of you.” (Jamison, age 11)
“You can do it.” (Caleb, age 8)

 4. One thing my mom doesn’t like is…

When a song she likes is overplayed on the radio (Luke, age 14)
Anyone that is mean to kids, animals, or old people (Keara, age 10)
When I complain (Carson, age 9)
Pickles (Brody, age 8)
The puppy pooping in the house! (Kate, age 5)
Camping. Because she doesn’t like outdoors. (Aislinn, age 5)
Debt (Calandra, age 36)
Dishonesty (Patrick, age 16)
Drama (Caralyn, age 12)
Kids screaming (Ivy, age 5)
People that chew with their mouths open (Maggie, age 7)
Minecraft (Bo, age 9)
When I pick my nose (Micah, age 7)
When I spill my coffee all over her carpet (Dominic, age 19)
When people watch bad movies (Kyle, age 9)
People who have no compassion (Mary Ann, age 38)
Not listening (Abigail, age 10)
Lazy people (Ezra, age 26)
Tomatoes (Evan, age 10)
Messy floors (Ryne, age 7)
Scary things (Coen, age 9)
Snakes (Hannah, age 8)
People giving up (Caleb, age 8)

  1. My mom laughs when…

I say something funny (Mark, age 11)
I toot (Katelyn, age 6)
The grand- or great grandkids do something funny (Barb, age 46)
She is with her friends (Kate, age 5)
When she’s using her crazy imagination (Gabe, age 9)
When my sister dances (Bo, age 9)
When we tell her a joke (Lainey, age 5)
Silly stuff happens (Samuel, age 4)
We make funny faces (Kyle, age 9)
I’m funny (Marin, age 3)
I say something in a weird voice (Jared, age 11)
She is laughing at her own jokes (Jamison, age 11)

6. I want my mom to teach me to…

Excel at life (Luke, age 14)
Do a flip (Mark, age 11)
Be strong and brave (Keara, age 10)
Have faith, forgive, and be content (Brooke, age 15)
Multiply (Brody, age 8)
Sew (Katelyn, age 6)
She’s already taught me so much – to love, to work hard, to make memories (Calandra, age 36)
To cook. My mom needs to teach me to cook. Badly. (Kate, age 14)
Spell words correctly (Ivy, age 5)
Be a good wife and mother and have patience (Chloe, age 23)
Hang up my clothes (Declan, age 4)
Braid hair (Lainey, age 5)
Fly an airplane (Micah, age 7)
Whistle (Leah, age 4)
Keep plants alive (Mary Ann, age 38)
Drive (Joel, age 13)
Go running (Marin, age 3)
Make fettucine (Gavin, age 11)
Make pancakes (Noah, age 12)
Be successful in the real world (Jamison, age 11)
Ride a bike (Ethan, age 6)

 7. My favorite thing to do with my mom is…

Snuggle (Kate, age 5, and many others of ALL ages!)
Go out to eat (Teagan, age 7; This was also a very popular answer!)
Walk the dog and talk (Luke, age 14)
Go frog catching (Mark, age 11)
Plant flowers and build fairy gardens (Keara, age 10)
Go to the park (Katelyn, age 6)
Hang out (Barb, age 46)
Talk about big stuff, little stuff, any stuff. It’s good to just hear her voice (Calandra, age 36)
Everything. It doesn’t matter what it is. (Kate, age 14)
Play board games (Gabe, age 9)
Play volleyball together (Maggie, age 7)
Go to the mall (Lainey, age 5)
Kiss and hug (Samuel, age 4)
Go to Zoombezi Bay in the summer (Kyle, age 9)
Chat over a cup of hot tea (Mary Ann, age 38)
Dance (Abigail, age 10)
Throw the Frisbee (Connor, age 10)
Make crafts and build Legos (Ryne, age 7)
Play with Playdoh (Marin, age 3)
Take a bike ride (Coen, age 9)
Go to the beach (Gavin, age 11)
Go camping (Noah, age 12)
Spend the day with just the two of us (Jared, age 11)
Read (Caleb, age 8)
Play hide and seek (Ethan, age 6)

  1. I know my mom loves me because…

She always tells me (Brody, age 8, and SO MANY others!)
She likes to snuggle with me (Carson, age 9)
I hear it in her voice and see it in her eyes, especially when we have to leave (Barb, age 46)
She hugs me (Aislinn, age 5)
She says she loves me before I go to bed or leave the house, and before games (Patrick, age 16)
We tell each other that every time we leave (Caralyn, age 12)
She feeds me (Will, age 9)
I was born in her belly (Ivy, age 5)
She kisses my dimples on my hands (Grant, age 3)
She goes to the doctor with me even though I’m an adult (Chloe, age 23)
She lets us live in the house instead of outside (Bo, age 9)
She spends time with me (Kyle, age 9)
I love her (Evan, age 10)
She falls asleep with me (Coen, age 9)
She does everything she can to make me happy (Jared, age 11)
She always takes care of me (Hannah, age 8)

  1. One way that I am proud to be like my mom is…

All babies love me (Brooke, age 15)
We are both nice (Kate, age 5)
I am smart like her (Will, age 9)
I am a Christian, and I love my family and put them first just like her (Chloe, age 23)
I like to make new friends like her (Declan, age 4)
I have her imagination (Gabe, age 9)
We both have a good memory (Bo, age 9)
I like the color purple (Micah, age 7)
I’m good at staying in control and I’m very responsible (Dominic, age 19)
We are happy (Leah, age 4)
We both like vegetables (Kyle, age 9)
We both look for the good in people (Mary Ann, age 38)
She is a hard worker in all aspects of life (Ezra, age 26)
I am good looking and modest! Ha,ha! (Joel, age 13)
I can sing very well (Evan, age 10)
I have glasses (Connor, age 10)
We both like to be outside (Gavin, age 11)
I laugh like her (Noah, age 12)
I have her freckles and dark hair (Jared, age 11)
We love each other (Ethan, age 6)

  1. Something I want my mom to know is…

That I love her so much (Lainey, age 5, and LOTS of other sons and daughters!)
That I really like sports (Carson, age 9)
That I am a good friend at school (Will, age 9)
That she is the BEST (Rachel, age 11)
That she was and is a great mother, even if she didn’t always feel that way (Chloe, age 23)
Sometimes there are five hot dogs in the pan and one goes “smush” (Declan, age 4)
How to play Minecraft (Bo, age 9)
How to fly an airplane (Micah, age 7)
That I’m so glad I am just like her (Dominic, age 19)
That she makes good choices (Abigail, age 10)
How happy I am to be living closer to her now (Ezra, age 26)
That I love everything she does (Evan, age 10)
That I love our hugs (Connor, age 10)
That I appreciate everything she does (Hannah, age 8)
That’s she’s beautiful (Jamison, age 11)
That she’s cool no matter what (Caleb, age 8)
That I love her the mostest in our world! (Ryne, age 7)

A SPECIAL THANKS TO ALL OF THE EXPERTS WHO CONTRIBUTED TO THIS POST!