- Know your children. I think this is something my sisters and I all agree we miss most about Mom. We all felt understood by her. She was a great listener -- when we were young, she enjoyed listening to our stories, etc., and when we were older she listened to our problems with friends, adults, etc. Emily and I agree that Mom was a good person to tell your issue to because she did not just automatically be on your team and hate on the person you had a problem with (this is typically my response to my sister's issues, thus making me a not-so-great confidant). Mom had 6 kids, and I can truly say she did everything she could to know each one of us individually. I know some people from large families feel like they got lost in the shuffle -- but that really did not happen to us at all. How do I apply this lesson to mothering Susie? Well, so far, it has played out mostly in how I have worked out her schedule. We have been able to ease into a very good schedule where she pretty much always sleeps through the night by combining things I liked from both Babywise and Attachement Parenting. She is a happy girl, and seems well fed and well rested. There are so many opinions out there, and some people might thing I spoil and coddle my baby too much, while others think I am too strict with my routine. But I know my baby! And I continue to work hard to see what works for us!
- Put your best face forward. Okay, I know I've already tread on rocky ground, here is some potentially rockier ground! But I do think this is a lesson I learned from my mom, so I can't leave it out. In no way do I advocate being focused on the outward appearance -- my mom was adamant that we tell my sisters they were clever and special and kind, not just cute all the time. But she DID do her best to always get us out the door in clothes that were clean, hair that was tidy and faces and hands that were washed. I remember being envious of girls who wore their hair free as a bird, while mine was slicked back into Laura Ingalls braids. :) Mom did not want us to have stringy hair! Looking back, I see what wisdom was in that -- especially for large families. When you have a bunch of kids, it is much more noticeable if they look like ragamuffins! It can be a bad testimony to people who frown on large families because they see messy children and assume that their parents do not care for them. People DO look on the outward appearance, no matter what we think. When your children are small, they have no control over their appearances, so it is up to you to keep them and their clothes clean and teach them to care for their appearances. I know I have only 1 child, but it has to start now -- working hard to get the stains out of baby clothes, bathing regularly, washing the little face that can have a milk mustache or neck that can hold spit up. :) Keep in mind -- the goal of a tidy and lovely bunch of kiddos is not so people will complement their appearances, or to turn their hearts to love beauty, but to keep from being a distraction from what is important about you! And if you are a Christian, you want others to see Christ, not dirt!
I miss my Mom so much. Almost every day a question pops into my head to ask her, before I catch myself. I hope that the lessons I remember from her are helpful to you, too.