I was 24 years old when I had my daughter Kayley, who is now 15 (yup, I’m almost 40!). Kayley is very quiet, shy and extremely artistic; she can literally sit for hours in her room creating paintings, crafts, clay figures, you name it. For a long time I thought I was done having children. Kayley was 12 and was becoming more and more independent so it could have been smooth sailing from then on out; then came Kennedy.
When my husband Eric and I first got together, we always knew we wanted to have a child. I had Kayley from a previous relationship, so when she spent time with her dad, Eric and I had plenty of time for socializing with friends and hanging out together. Kayley was 12 when “Kenna” was born and the whole dynamic changed. Our lives pretty much revolve around our little 3 year old ball of energy. Kenna is an absolutely amazing, caring and kind little girl whose social skills and empathy are well beyond her young years. It’s difficult, especially during this pandemic, to get much time to ourselves; but we make it work.
Being a mother of a 15 year old and a 3 year old is not without it’s challenges and I literally feel like I’m being pulled in 2 completely opposite directions. I try my best to be there for Kayley’s needs; her schooling, her art, and general teenage girl stuff, while Kenna tugs at my skirt for playtime with baby dolls, “tasting” her play dough meals, and helping with the potty details. Thank God for my husband who allows me time to do things I need for myself whether its a YouTube Video, deep conditioning my hair, or writing this blog.
My best advice when it comes to being a Mom, is to not let yourself go and try to take time each day just for you. I am fortunate enough for my husband to be able to have this time, but even if you are a single mom, it’s important to do things that you enjoy. Whether its exercising, a pedicure, or even having your morning coffee in silence with a good book; if you don’t fill your own cup, you will be empty when it comes time for your family. Mothers, wives, girlfriends, etc., need to be their own person outside of their relationships with their spouse and children alike. I feel like I am my best self to Eric and my girls when I am able to do things I enjoy and have time for myself to reflect and take care of my body and mind.
Another bit of advice I can give mothers is to not be so hard on yourself. Mothers tend to take on so much because we naturally feel like we have to care for everyone and everything. It took some time for me to learn to let little things go, like the need for everything to be completely spotless every second of the day. In the grand scheme of life, the world isn’t going to end if the laundry doesn’t get folded right this second.
There’s no handbook that’s going to make you the perfect parent, because obviously, the perfect parent doesn’t exist. Just love your children unconditionally, laugh as much as you can, listen to them and be their friend, but let them know you are the boss. I see how quickly Kayley went from being a tiny toddler like Kenna, to almost being off on her own; so the most important advice is to stop and be grateful for every moment of their childhood. I thought I wanted to be “smooth sailing”, but the rocky waters that is Kenna not only keep me young, but will fill the void Kayley will leave when she’s off to college.