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SALT LAKE CITY — In the day-to-day, we do for our children. But how can we help them value our role as a mother as well as who we are as a person?
I recently connected with other moms and asked this very question. Here are some of their helpful insights:
1. Take off the mom hat
That’s right, bite the bullet and stop being functional for 15 minutes. Simply have fun with them. Sing, laugh, be goofy and don’t ask what chore they need to finish.
I recently did a birthday party for my daughter (Ten 10-year-old girls and "Cupcake Wars" — enough said). At one point I could hear my cruise-director voice guiding them to the next thing and realized, it’s time to do the dance. We put on “Your Lips are Movin’” and danced, sang, and generally smeared frosting on cupcakes and called it good. Total fun-ness.
2. Show them the real you
Embrace your imperfections, quirks and idiosyncrasies, and then share them. If you love Broadway tunes, so be it. I love old movies like "The Court Jester," "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers," "Spartacus," etc. Despite initial eye-rolling from children, these movies have not only become favorites, but have been quoted from often.
Share your talent and interests. I recently shared more about this in my post, “How Women Can Cope with Top 3 Stressors." One of the mothers I spoke with loves running. Over time, she’s shared that love with her children and now one of them runs with her. They recently trained for and completed a half-marathon together.
Just as important as showing yourself now, is to share who you were before. On my recent "mom and me Europe adventure," I visited my mother's childhood town. As I viewed the former shipyard building areas and heard the stories of gritty and often survival-mode lives, I felt a tender connection with her. To see where she had come from, and at age 19 how she’d emigrated to the United States and through difficult odds made a successful life for herself here, made me stand in awe. I more fully appreciated the life opportunities she had afforded me.
3. Answer the question, “What do you do all day?”
It’s your favorite question, I know. But rather than be frustrated with your children’s lackluster response to daily dos, invite them to share the load. As we appropriately model then delegate chores, errands and more, children learn just what goes into making those Kindy 500 cars or class party sign-ups.
I’ve discovered the benefits of teaching my older children to grocery shop. Another friend has her children bake her bread. It not only gives them an appreciation for what is done, but more awareness in maintaining it. After delegating mopping the kitchen floor chore, I would hear my children say, “Didn’t I just mop that? Who spilled the Cheerios and didn’t clean it up?”
Music to my ears.
4. Be proud of what you do
Years ago, I found myself saying I was “just” a homemaker, and even with a question mark on the end. Say it with a smile and a confidence that what you do every day matters. Whether you’re home part time or full time, creating a loving, happy, nurturing environment for your children takes time and energy. You don’t have to be perfect to be appreciated. People will value your homemaking as you value it too.
While on a train to a London, I met and started talking with a girl from Brazil. When I shared that I was a mother of seven, she became excited, which is not always the reaction I receive. She was in child development studies, and we spent the next hour in a wonderful discussion about the joys and realities of rearing children in society.
Consider one way to open your whole self to your children. Perhaps tell a favorite childhood experience, sing a silly song, or work on a house chore together just for fun.
Seeing you as a whole person creates a layered and lovely connection.
Connie Sokol is an author, speaker, TV contributor and mother of seven. Contact her at www.conniesokol.com.