(1.) Be willing to listen to your kidsGrowing up, I always felt like I could talk to my mom about anything. Even if she didn’t particularly care about what I was telling her, I was never pushed away or told to leave her alone. She always seemed willing to hear about my day, latest drama, or newest idea!
(2.) Raise your kids to love the LordEvery Sunday, without fail, we were required to attend church. That was expected from all of us, but our upbringing consisted of so much more than just worshipping on the Lord’s day. Mom always encouraged us to love God and obey His word. We prayed as a family, and even to this day, we love to discuss and study Biblical topics. If it weren’t for us having a Christian mother, all four of us wouldn’t have personal relationships with Christ today!
(3.) Don’t be a friend to your kidsThis includes teens, too! During the first 18 to 20 years of your children’s lives, your job as a mom is to be a parent. *GASP* I know, shocking. But the truth is that many parents don’t do this these days. Our mom was very strict, and I don’t think any of us girls would’ve said as youngsters, “Yeah, my mom is my friend.” That woman parented the crap out of us, and as a result, we all love and respect her to this day. While your kids are young and impressionable, you need to be a parent first. End of story!
(4.) Be a friend to your adult kidsHere’s where there’s great news. Once your kids have the maturity to prove they are adults, you can now enter the “friend zone.” Haha! The best part about our relationship with our mom today is that we can honestly say that now we are friends. We all love spending the afternoon talking, hanging out, having dinner, or travelling with Mom.
(5.) Don’t give your kids everything they wantWe didn’t grow up with a lot of money, but we’re so thankful that Mom didn’t make us think that we did. A lot of parents are afraid that their kids will be unhappy if they don’t have everything their hearts desire. Or they’re worried that their kids will be “messed up” if they don’t have what other kids have. We never wore name-brand clothes or had all the awesome stuff, and we never felt resentment for it. Trust us, it won’t eternally scar your kids to say “no” sometimes.
(6.) Match your kids’ and grandkids’ excitementMom is so. stinkin. good. about this! She gets super excited when we tell her things or show her something we made or bought. She’s even good at this with the grandkids, too, so they love telling Nana things that are important to them. Here’s how to do it… When you child approaches you with a gift, news, or discovery, take a quick look at their face and notice their tone of voice. Your job is to match that excitement, or do what our mom does, and go above and beyond. Be more excited than they are and they will always appreciate it!
(7.) Encourage your kids’ interestsWhen I asked all my sisters to submit a list of things that make our mom great, three of us included this. Our mom and dad are both very musical, and in turn, we all grew to love music, too. Mom loves all kinds of music and encouraged us to not only listen to the music we liked, but to also learn good music. Mom also nurtured our love for music, and she encouraged us to use our God-given talents in many ways.
(8.) Be accessibleWe moved around a lot as kids, but Mom seemed to always be able to find a job in the schools where we attended. It was nice being able to go to her room after school was out, and just knowing she was nearby made life just a little bit more comfortable.
(9.) Be a good teacherBeing a teacher goes hand-in-hand with being a mom, and our mom is a great example of this. She could literally teach anything, and she’d be amazing at it. She’s really patient with people who need to learn, and she can even make learning fun. So so hard to do! The fact our mom was such a great teacher is probably why three of us became teachers ourselves.
(10.) Work hard and let your kids see itSome moms do their work behind the scenes or when their kids go to bed. Not our mom, she did her work during our wake hours, and we saw the amount of time and effort she put into it. No matter if she was working on something for her job or something for home, she always, and still does, put 100% of her heart into it. Showing your kids how hard you work encourages them in an indirect way to do the same.
(11.) Put family firstRegardless of what goes on from day to day, when family things come up, they are top priority. If two events happened on the same night, there was no question which to attend – family before friends. Always!
(12.) Don’t be afraid to talk about the hard issuesLife is hard and messy, but you can’t be afraid to sit your kids down and sort it all out. I never felt like mom kept anything from us – especially those things that needed to be said. I’m sure there was plenty of teenage angst-filled eye rolling, but that didn’t keep her from her mission as a mom. To train us up right!
(13.) Keep a clean and organized houseMom has almost always been a working mom, out of the home. Yet, somehow she has managed to keep a neat and clean house. Many of us know that life can get busy and messy, but having a clean home is essential to being stress-free. Our mom is a great example of a wonderful homemaker.
(14.) Create family traditionsEvery family has traditions. Some stick around and others fall to the wayside, but every family has them. For us, some of the least favorites included Saturday morning chores and Sunday night popcorn for dinner. Oh, the horror… But then there were the awesome traditions. Things like doing the advent calendar leading up to Christmas, Dairy Queen after a winning ball game, and singing the “Johnny Appleseed Song” at every family reunion.
(15.) Demand high standardsAnd speaking of chores… We were all required to do our own laundry, pick up after ourselves, and keep our rooms clean. Some of us did better than others, but we still knew what was expected. Like I mentioned earlier, Saturdays were cleaning days, and everyone was supposed to help. Mom demanded more than household participation, though. We were to keep our behavior in check. Table manners were a must! No elbows on the table, chewing with your mouth open, talking with your mouth full of food, or reaching across the table. We were taught not to be rude by asking for things you weren’t offered, inviting yourself to a friend’s house, or interrupting others. The list goes on, but one thing is for sure. Mom had high standards, and our job was to strive to meet them.
(16.) Celebrate BIGMom was (and still is) great about celebrating each person for their birthday. Now it’s getting a little tough because the family has grown so large, but Mom still does her best. We get together just about every Sunday for lunch after church, and if a birthday falls near that day, we celebrate that person.
(17.) Have fun and be sillyWhether is a game, musical, sport, or song, Mom always ends up involved somehow. She loves to win, and is actually quite talented when it comes to competition. One year, during a family fest, Mom and Dad actually beat ALL the kids during a Badminton tournament. “No fair, Mom. I’m telling… uh…. Grandma!” We always have an amazing time when Mom plays with us.
(18.) Plan road tripsWe do this more now than we did as kids, but every year, we go on a girls’ road trip. All the girls are invited to drive to Minnesota to spend an evening at the Chanhassen dinner theater and then shop at the Mall of America the next day. It’s always such a fun time filled with great memories.
(19.) Be helpful and encouraging as your kids become parentsMom has been so great when our babies were born. Many times, she was their when we gave birth, and sometimes she was even able to spend a few days with us. She did this not to spend the first few days of the baby’s life being constantly held and cuddled by Nana, but to help with dishes, laundry, watching the older children, making meals. It means the world having a mom that not only offers sage wisdom to new moms but one who also gives her time and energy in acts of service.
(20.) Pray for your familyMom always said that she prayed for all of us, before and after we were born. She prayed that we would seek and find the Lord, and to give our hearts to Him one day. Be a great mom and make sure to pray for your kids (and hubby) every single day!
(21.) Be willing to let your kids have a petSometimes the best way to teach your kids responsibility is to have them take care of a pet. We had a good number of animals when we grew up! At some point in our childhood, we owned dogs, cats, fish, hamsters, gerbils, a rabbit, chickens, cows, pigs, and even a really mean pony (not all at one time, thankfully). We all had the opportunity to clean out cages, fill food and water dishes, and keep our animals clean. This is a useful skill that can prepare kids for #adulting one day! 😉
(22.) Let your kids failEncourage and push your kids to experience all sorts of amazing things in life, but be aware that they won’t be great at everything. Not all of us girls were good at sports, but we all played. Some of us more than others. If we got beamed in the eye with a fly ball, Mom would wipe away our tears and push us back in the game. Quitting was not a part of her vocabulary. No matter what, even if we failed, we were taught to try.
(23.) Be strong in the midst of hardshipLast June, one of us endured a loss that many moms can understand – the death of a child. So many women have miscarried, had a stillbirth, or even had a child pass away from cancer or other heart-wrenching issues. Our mom is always a solid rock during times of extreme sorrow, and she is always there, willing to help in numerous ways. Being a great mom means sometimes going out of your comfort zone and serving others in ways that only a mom can!
(24.) Take good care of your own momWant to be taken care of in your old age? Then be an example to your kids by loving and caring for your own mother. Mom visits our grandma and invites her for “sleepovers” from time to time, and we always love seeing them together. Even this Mother’s Day weekend, Grandma will be staying with Mom.
(25.) Be great with your wordsThis has to be one of our mom’s greatest strengths. She is an amazing wordsmith! More than one of us has referred to her if we’re not sure what to say or how to word something. Without a doubt, we’ll always ask her. Words can have such a powerful effect on people, so this is kind of a big thing.
(26.) Cherish your kidsJust take a minute and think about this – your children are yours. They are yours because God wanted them to be, and does God make mistakes? No way, Jose!
(27.) Let your kids be kidsIt can be frustrating to beach clothes and give baths after kids have been rolling about in the mud, but sometimes, it’s the little (hey, and free) things that make the world to your kids. Let them get messy, let them go on an adventure, and let them have ice cream for breakfast. Just let them be kids!
(28.) Cook with brown sugarAs much as you might think this is silly, it’s kinda true in our eyes. It’s a running joke in our family that Mom puts brown sugar in everything. Ok, maybe not EVerything. Just those things that are important – spaghetti and meatloaf to name a couple. For the rest of my life, when I sprinkle brown sugar into my dishes, I’ll always think of Mom.
Thank you Mom for all you’ve done and all you do!In the beautiful words of my sister Betsi…
I’m thankful because God does everything for His glory, and He sovereignly gave me the mom that would fulfill His eternal purpose. That’s huge. I never could have, nor should have, had any other mom!
Love Julie, Jenny, Betsi, & Katie