These Strong Moms Will Inspire You

Before I became a mom, I became a stepmom. That experience was a trial by fire-- By the time I was 29, my two adolescent stepdaughters were living with us 24/7 and I had another child on the way. Learning how to parent two girls through puberty was one of the hardest things I've ever done, but I'm so glad today that I had that experience-- Thanks to my stepdaughters, I became a far better mother than I would have been otherwise. My stepdaughters made me strong.

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My stepdaughters are grown now and thanks to them, I can see the big picture better as a mom to two little ones. I know that while the days often seem long, the years fly by and before I know it, our last two children will have flown the nest like their sisters. My stepdaughters taught me how important it is to make my home and our family a soft place to land for our children-- a place where they can mess up, have bad days, embarrass themselves, and still be fiercely loved and appreciated for who they are.

My stepdaughters taught me how important it is that my children learn before they leave home how to do laundry, clean a house, cook basic meals, balance a checkbook, change a tire, save their money for unexpected expenses, and avoid credit card debt. They taught me that teens desperately need rules and boundaries, and that while enforcing those rules can be torturous, in the end, if done right, it builds character on both sides. And they taught me that in order to be truly successful as a parent, I need to be willing to go against the grain sometimes and do what's right for my kids, even if it's totally different from what all the other parents around me are doing with their kids.

That last one is a big one, and it's a lesson I wish I'd learned before my stepdaughters were grown. It's so tempting as a parent to base decisions on what everyone else is doing-- After all, if all the other parents are doing it, it must be right.... Right? Well, not always.

All of my kids are unique, with different talents, strengths, and weaknesses. What works for the kid down the street or the best friend at school or the brainiac cousin from Birmingham doesn't necessarily work best for them. My husband and I were far more willing to go with the flow and hope for the best when my stepdaughters were growing up than we are now, simply because we can look back at this point and see very clearly how their paths to a fulfilling adulthood could have been easier if we'd listened more to our instincts and less to the other parents around us.

Today, as a result, I do my research. I spend a lot of time talking and listening to my kids. And I go with my gut, even if it's telling me something very different from what other parents are doing. I've gotten some side eye from other parents for the decisions I've made that go against the grain--  decisions like putting my daughter in a two-day-a-week homeschool tutorial instead of sending her to the neighborhood middle school, or stepping in immediately when a youth sports coach was bullying and insulting players, or signing up my daughter for fencing when everyone else was dancing or playing soccer.

Some of my parenting choices have been big, some small, but being willing to stray from the norm as a parent requires a strength that endures and does not fade from year to year. Ultimately, I want my children to grow up to be adults who aren't afraid to dream big and live lives outside the box -- As their mom, I have to be willing to do the same in order to show them the way.

This lesson from raising my stepdaughters resonated most when I watched the latest installment in P&G's 'Thank You Mom' campaign. Called 'Strong,' it showcases how mothers handle key moments in child rearing, ultimately impacting their own children's personal strength and courage. Take a look for yourself:

My family can't wait to watch the Summer Olympics in a few months-- We love learning the personal stories behind the athletes who've made it to Brazil to compete against opponents from around the world. But I really love the fact that P&G takes the time to put the spotlight on the wind beneath these Olympians' wings: their moms.

This year for the first time, P&G is giving us a deeper look at the origins of this latest campaign insight by revealing new global research about what it means to be a mom in today’s world. Here are some of the findings that I thought were really interesting:

• Nearly all moms (98%) admitted that they did not anticipate the demands of motherhood with nearly two thirds agreeing that they needed to develop greater emotional strength once they became a mom

• (63%) of moms agree it’s more important to set a good example for their children than to be involved in every aspect of the day-to-day caring for their children

• The majority of moms (91%) want their children to feel the impact of their parenting when they are not together, and for US moms, integrity, hard work and determination are some of the most important values to instill in their children

• Of the moms who receive help from others to care for their children (84%) still feel they are leading their family

I'm excited that P&G Brands is once again partnering with Olympians, Olympic hopefuls and their moms on the journey to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. Athlete and mom partnerships include:

• Tide Pods athlete, Simone Biles (Gymnast) and mom Nellie Biles
• Pampers athlete, Dana Vollmer (Swimmer) and mom Cathy Vollmer
• Bounty athlete, Allyson Felix (Track & Field) and mom Marlean Felix
• Gillette athlete, Ashton Eaton (Track & Field) and mom Roz Eaton
• Venus athlete, Gabby Douglas (Gymnast) and mom Natalie Hawkins

These Olympic competitors and their teammates all grew up with moms who had to have been incredibly strong-- Raising an athlete with the potential to be one of the best in the world often requires going against the grain on a massive scale. A young athlete's life is so different from that of most other children, and the child can't go far without a mom who's willing to give her all to make it happen--  to make sacrifices, think outside the box, and go her own way in order to do what's best for her child. When I think of the payoff for these moms in a few months-- watching their children compete on a global stage in front of millions of people-- it brings tears to my eyes.

No matter who or what your child grows up to be, I can tell you that being strong pays off in the end, moms. It really, really does

I'm glad P&G thinks so, too.

Like P&G's new video? Be sure and share it on your social channels so that more moms can see it, and use the hashtag #ThankYouMom. Follow the Thank You Mom campaign on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Writing Suburban Turmoil has led to all sorts of interesting experiences for Lindsay Ferrier, from writing a weekly newspaper column to covering the 2012 presidential election for CafeMom and Headline News to creating and writing her own show, I'll Take That Dare, for YouTube. But her most important jobs by far are being a wife, mom, and stepmom.

This post was written in partnership with P&G and CafeMom.

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