Parenting 101: Five Exceptional Lessons in Life I’ve Learned While Being a Mother

Article by Make The Days Count Contributor Judy Mosley


When my husband and I decided to have children in 2004, I had believed we were well prepared.  We were healing as couple.  He had been a youth minister prior to our marriage and I had worked at a children’s home when he’d met me.  We loved children and had assumed that would carry us as we had our own.


It was quite a shock really to discover how unprepared we were. Not necessarily financially or physically, but mentally and emotionally.  Many people told us that we would enjoy being parents.  What they didn’t tell us is that, sometimes, you will be at an absolute loss as to know what to do next.  They didn’t let us know that our children would be our mirrors as to how we live and would challenge everything that we believed.  No one said that your heart had to be open, available, and ready at any given moment to give that child exactly what they needed. 


Parenting is never easy but it can be enjoyable.  These are some of the lessons that being a parent have taught me.  What I love about this list is that they don’t just apply to parenting … but many areas of my life:


1. I have to take care of myself.

I confess.  I grew up believing that “someday, my prince would come.”  I was sure that if I was a good girl, always being kind and true, that someone would rescue me from daily life and take care of everything that I had ever needed.


What I’ve learned is that not even prince charming can take care of me entirely.  He’s not supposed to. My children aren’t responsible for my emotional, physical, and mental well-being either.  Having children is a joy but they are not to make me happy.  That’s my job.  It’s my responsibility to take care of myself and mine alone.  That also means I need to ask for what I need.  If I need time away, I need to ask for it.  I need to stand up for myself as much as I do for my children.


2. Take the moment for what it is.

When I brought my second child home, I discovered that the only way she would sleep was when she was wrapped in someone arms.  By herself, she would absolutely refuse to sleep.  With the danger of SIDS, I knew that she couldn’t sleep with us, so I set out to teach her how to sleep on her own.  We moved to the living room, so we wouldn’t wake up anyone else, and I spent the next few nights, resting on the couch while she would sleep in her basinet.


At least, that’s how it played out in my mind.  I don’t know how long it lasted, but night after night, if I did not hold her, she would cry and cry and cry.  I remember one night in particular, praying that God would help her sleep.  She cried until 4:30am.  I literally thought I would die.  But, something crazy happened.  I stuck with it and she started sleeping through the night.  Now she sleeps in her own bed, rarely waking up in the night.  What I learned is that it didn’t last forever.  Children do grow. They change every day.  And, whatever frustrating phase they are going through eventually does pass.  But I need to take the moment for what it is and accept that this is where we are for the moment.  I just have to do what’s best for them and for me, as well.


3. Make time to laugh.

There are some days when I realize that I haven’t even smiled until one of them does something that’s absolutely off the wall.  I laugh out loud and when the children see my response, they become sillier. I can get so serious about doing what’s right that I lose sight of having fun with my own kids. I’ve learned that I need to be silly along with them and that it’s good for all our spirits.  Often it means me humbling myself, for example when they blow raspberries on my stomach.  But that’s ok.  The energy in the room changes instantly when we start having fun together.


4. There’s always a reason.

This is something that I learned early.  Anytime something in my children changes or if they start behaving in a certain way, I know that there is a reason behind it.  And, if it’s something to be concerned about, I start looking for the reasons why their behavior has shifted.  I’ve learned to look everywhere.  Reading what I can, talking to others, or watching or listening to programs where I know that I can get valuable information.  And I often look at my own behavior.  When my son starts frowning his eyebrows and using sharp tones, it means that I may be looking and talking to him in the exact same way.  Many times, if I want his behavior to change, I have to take a look at my own first.


5. It’s never too late.

I have made mistakes and will make many more. But, what I love about this lesson is that it’s never too late to change where our relationship is headed.  If I am doing something that isn’t good for my children, I can always change it.  It also means that sometimes I need to admit when I have done something wrong.  I need to be willing to look at my own life and see where my responsibility lies in the issues that we’re having.  Eventually, they will be responsible for their own lives, but even then, I can do things that can help keep the relationship healthy.


Okay, I admit that I am a novice.  Both my children are little and I have a lot of learning ahead of me.  But, that is the greatest part about it.  I can always learn something from my kids, myself, and the world around me (see also The Lesson I Learned from a Two Year-Old).  We should always be ready to learn something new, because the world is so big.  When we stay open to learning, we stay open to new possibilities. 


And that is something that can bring real happiness, wherever we find ourselves in life.


“The very best reason parents are so special . . . is because we are the holders of a priceless gift, a gift we received from countless generations we never knew, a gift that only we now possess and only we can give to our children. That unique gift, of course, is the gift of ourselves. Whatever we can do to give that gift, and to help others receive it, is worth the challenge of all our human endeavor.”
-Fred Rogers


“My mother had a great deal of trouble with me, but I think she enjoyed it.”

-Mark Twain


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Posted on 10 December, 2008 in Finance & Family, Parenting
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2 Responses so far | Have Your Say!

  1. Kevin
    December 11th, 2008 at 9:26 am #

    This post in many ways really sums up what Make The Days Count is about. I like the 5 points and particularly the lesson of how specific things we do can also teach us about larger life lessons. Nice post Judy.

  2. Jennifer
    December 11th, 2008 at 9:32 am #

    This article is really beautiful.

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