I've learned that one of the secrets in motherhood is to never stop learning. To be open to new things, to have a serious vested interest in all the knowledge out there, which means to take advice and learn from other mothers. I've learned from my mom and I've learned from new moms. We all learn and grow from each other, as well as our children.
I went to some of the most incredible mamas I know and asked them for their words of wisdom, advice, or secrets to motherhood. The answers vary, but the underlying message in all of them is pure love. Here are 20 secrets from the best moms I know. Wait until you read #5!
- Do the RIGHT thing, even when it's the harder thing to do. - Lori, mom of 13-year-old twin boys, 9-year-old daughter, and 5-year-old son
- As a parent, I want my son to challenge himself and learn his own limits, but when he climbs up on a stool and falls, I'll still let him climb, but I also want him to know I'm always there to comfort him. Hopefully he'll remember that when he's an adult out there in the scary world. - Rebecca, mom to a 3-year-old son
- Realize your child is his or her own person, not a little you. I respected my kids' spirits from the beginning. I knew they were going to teach me about my greater self. I embraced each lesson. Watch and learn from your child. - London, mom to two adult children
- Be in their corner in good and bad times. Give them confidence by allowing them to make mistakes, not huge ones though, age appropriate of course. I never thought about if I was a good mom or not, I just loved them both so much and felt lucky to have two wonderful daughters. - Joann, mom to two adult daughters, grandmother to four
- Once when I was frustrated and losing patience with my daughter, someone judged me. I turned to that person and said, 'I'm not trying to win the award for mother of the fucking year! I'm just trying to keep my kid alive and get through today.' Moral here: We all have those moments. You will get through them. And pay no mind to what someone who has no clue what you are going through says. Oh, and don't fucking worry about cursing in front of your kids. Just fucking love the shit out of them. - Jen, mom to a 5-year-old daughter
- Motherhood is extremely exhausting, but certainly rewarding. We stick to a daily routine and that works for our family. Since our triplets were 2 months old, I always found it best to go on walks with them, take a drive, or arrange a playdate. It's important to get out of the house. The kids enjoy it and so do I. - Colleen, mother of 5 1/2-year-old triplets
- If you want your children to listen to you as teenagers, listen to them now. Whether it's about Legos or Lucky Charms, your kids want you to be interested in what they have to say. Build a great rapport of two-way communication early. - Emily, mom to a 9-year old son and 7-year-old daughter
- Stop worrying so much about every morsel of food they eat, every bath they take, every hour of sleep they get, and just have fun. Have dance parties every night before bedtime, read an extra bed time story, and let them get messy. The important stuff will happen whether you stress out or not. Enjoy them. - Lindsay, mom to a 3-year-old daughter
- I'm never bored. I'd pay money to be bored. But wouldn't trade this life for anything. - Marj, mother of two boys, 12 and 10, with special needs
- Save the emailing, cleaning, all that other stuff for when the kids are asleep. Be in the moment. Also I read this somewhere: 'The way you talk to your kids becomes their inner voice.' While I didn't make it up, I think it's great to be mindful of. - Nicole, mom to nearly 1-year-old daughter
- Putting yourself in time-out can not only show your kiddo that you follow your own rules, but can be the most blessedly quiet five minutes you'll get all day. - Christie, mom to an 8-year-old boy and 3-year-old girl
- Every day you have dishes piling up and the laundry and the dust, but one day (sooner than you think), your kids will be grown. Then you will have plenty of time on your hands for chores. So try not to sweat the small stuff. Go out in the rain and jump in puddles, read that extra book, build a fort in your living room even though you just cleaned it. In the end you will be glad you did! - Priscilla, mom to a 6-year-old daughter and an adult son, grandmother to one.
- My motto is 'pick your fights.' I don’t believe in scolding my son for everything. I also don’t believe in giving him all the answers. I will guide him, let him make mistakes, and learn from them and grow as his own little person. I believe in letting him play with mud, run around nekkid, and interact with sick kids. Don’t keep your kid in a plastic bubble says I! One of my favorite things my mom would say in Spanish is: no hagan cosas buenas que parescan malas. Don’t do good things that appear to be bad. It seriously got me thinking before acting. - Angie, mom to a 5-year-old son
- Always admit you make mistakes. Your kids will take you more seriously and respect you if you are willing to say you are not always right, infallible, and perfect. It also allows them to accept their own mistakes and shortcomings. - Sara, mom to a 15-year-old son, 9-year-old daughter, and a 5-year-old daughter
- Time is fleeting; all too soon, it passes. Enjoy the hell out of it! - Jenna, mom of six, ages 24, 20, 16, 14, 12, 11
- Always trust your instinct. And never be afraid to ask for help and/or a break. - Amanda, mom to two daughters, 5 and 7, and a 3-year-old son
- What makes motherhood the best for me is seeing my daughter's smiling face. Soak in those moments. Also knowing that I am doing my best to make her proud, loving her unconditionally, and supporting her through everything. - Tricia, mom to a 2-year-old daughter
- Remember that your kids feed off your energy. If you are angry, in a bad mood because of work, or not having enough sleep, your kids will also be cranky, in a bad mood. Focus instead on the positive and you may just find what was bothering you melts away when you have the love of your children. - Tina, mom to an 8-year-old son and 12-year-old daughter
- The only shift available for motherhood is 24/7. Which is the best job I could ever have. - Jen, mom to a 3-year-old daughter
- Your children need your love the most when they’ve been really bad! - Leah, mom to two adult children
Thank you to all the moms who participated. I've learned so much from you!
Which secret or tidbit is your favorite? What would you add to this list?
Image via Fe Candia/Flickr