I have one of those little books that you get in Cracker Barrel or Hallmark, you know, the ones that are miniature and have pages of little sayings pertaining to different subjects, mothers and sons in my case. Though they often contain cheesy, stereotypical information, there is also lots of inspiration to be gained and emotions to be felt while reading their pages. These little books tend to be read and then misplaced. That's exactly what happened with one my mom got me a few years ago right after Parker was born. I read the whole thing and then did who knows what with it. Well, I found it yesterday while cleaning out a drawer and read it again. This time the book seemed more relevant. Not only did I have two boys in which to use in context, more of the pages came to life as I thought about situations where the phrases in the book had actually occurred (or need to occur) in my life. So neat. I figured I'd share a few with you, while narrating some of the quotes' importance in my life. I'll warn you, this post is a little lengthy.
1. Spend as much time with him as you can. This is for your sake as well as his. Enough said.
2. Read all the advice and baby guides you want, but trust your instincts. They're good. Insecurity makes this hard at times.
3. Don't forget, he needs one-on-one attention from you. This is more difficult with each subsequent child.
4. Accept the fact that boys and girls are different. This one was/is hard for me. I have definitely longed to see Parker have his stuffed animals hug one another [I think it's happened once] rather than fight. I've been frustrated with the fact that with most boys excitement equals loud noises.
5. Don't forget that as a baby, he will always be looking for your face. It will be that way forever. Just the other days while Parker was walking in line at Awanas (I was stalking him to see how he acts when I'm not around), he saw me and proudly yelled out, "That's my mommy!" with a huge grin. Such a small thing made me so happy.
6. The sooner he learns to follow the rules, the easier his life will be. And Yours. This is truth if there ever was any.
7. From you, he'll learn the importance of telling the truth. Be a good model. I try to be very careful about the answers and information I give my boys knowing that they inherently trust my every word. I don't want them ever to feel betrayed by me.
8. Remember these words: It's just a phase. I cannot tell you how many times these simple words have given me the encouragement I needed to keep on chugging. To name a few eras I've survived: sleepless newborn nights, acid reflux, separation anxiety, hitting, teething, throw yourself on the floor tantrums, food on the floor, cry it out in bed, and so many more.
9. Don't forget: Praise is contagious. So is criticism. I want my boys to be men who know how to compliment and encourage people, not simply adults who only know how to criticize. I have watched Parker light up again and again when I've praised him for right behavior. I love when he tells me or his brother, "You're doing a great job!" or "Wow, mommy, dinner smells so good." Though he has so many little flaws from his sinful nature, I love when I see glimpses of goodness coming from his own little heart. It makes the hard work of being a parent worth while.
10. Take him to the store with you. Let him pick out the juice, the apples, the cereal. I love grocery shopping. OK, more correctly rephrased, I usually love grocery shopping. Taking both boys isn't much fun, but just taking one is a pleasure. I like teaching Parker how to pick out good produce and which foods contain too much sugar, etc. He is listening and learning even at 3 years old. He sometimes make believes that he's reading the food labels. He'll say, "This one has 15 pounds of salt mommy. It's not healthy for us." I laugh, but am still happy he is beginning to care about and understand nutrition.
11. Take walks with him at his pace. This is hard for me. If I find the time and drive to get out there and walk, I want there to be a distance objective or physical advantage gained from my motivations to get out. Well, a walk with Parker means it'll take and hour to go a mile because he is so interested in every stick and flower that passes by him in a 50 foot radius. I am getting better with this and try not to mind so much. We take turns. Sometimes we stroll for him, other times he rides his tricycle so I can walk with some kind of a pace.
12. Always be his cheerleader. This goes back to number 9. I want him to always know I'm his biggest fan. I'm still learning ways in which to show this true fact.
13. If you buy him something ever time he goes to the store with you, you'll soon be buying him something every time he goes to the store with you. No, there's no typo. You read it correctly. We naturally as parents want to give our children gifts and rewards. I learned early on that there shouldn't always be a physical reward for obedience. Obedience isn't an option even if nothing material is at stake. Though I was only buying Parker a $0.99 matchbox car, I watched him learn to ask for one every time we were out. I put a stop to this. Obedience shouldn't be about what you'll get if you oblige. Also, though I don't really have a perfect grasp on the balance of material possessions myself, I know I want to fight the mindset that seems to be prevalent in our nation: more is better and things are what matter.
14. Teach his how to set the table. This will amaze future girlfriends. What's behind this quote is what spoke to me, not the actual words. I want to teach my boys to be domestic. I don't want them to be girly necessarily, but knowing how to cook, clean, launder, decorate, etc. could really make the life of their future wives much easier and quite exceptional. I have a great husband, but if he knew how to cook, he'd be perfect. So close.
15. Remember, your encouragement breeds confidence. It always will. We're back at 9 again. There's just something about how a child feels about his parent's approval. I feel like if I never give it, they'll quit asking for it and I do not want that to happen. I want my boys to be independent thinkers, but always at least CARE what momma thinks. I want them to be successful confident men and I truly believe that begins here in my house before preschool ever even starts.
Sometimes a little quote is all it takes to spark inspiration to be a better mom. I'm sure glad I stumbled upon this book again.