The Best Advice I Never Asked For

Before Vivian joined our family 11 weeks ago I never knew just how much work went into raising three kids.  Everyone I pass on the sidewalk chuckles, “You’ve got your hands full!” and my reply is always “I just wish I had one more hand!”

The first five weeks with Vivian were completely overwhelming.  She wasn’t a very good sleeper and she was fussy when she was awake.  But, after the five week mark she started sleeping through the night (!!!) and she’s now a total lovey during her alert times.  For the most part I feel like I have a good grasp on day-to-day life.  There may be three of them and only one of me, but so far no one has missed a meal or gone without clean underwear.

The other night we went out to dinner with my mom.  It was a perfect summer evening, so we ate outdoors.  Like most restaurant trips for us, it quickly turned into chaos. Vivian was nursing, Mack was getting restless in his high chair and Evie knocked over a row of parked bikes.  Sigh.

We started talking about life when I was little.  My mom had five kids in less than seven years, and during times when I feel totally overwhelmed and outnumbered I remind myself that she had even more!

At one point during the dinner my mom casually mentioned a simple memory from her days mothering a young brood.  To make sure she had special time individually with all five of us, my dad suggested she do something with each of us every month on the same day as our birthday.  I was born on the 4th of the month, so every month on (or around) the 4th my mom planned something for us to do together.  Maybe it was a movie (I still remember seeing “Beetlejuice” in second grade and thinking I was so cool!) or shopping for new clothes or a trip to the grocery store.  It didn’t really matter what we did, just that we did it together.

I never knew this was her plan.  She pulled this off without any of us realizing that it took effort and planning.

As soon as my mom revealed this strategy, tears welled in my eyes.  I felt immense relief!  Even though I hadn’t mentioned to my mom that I was feeling stressed about this very thing, she somehow knew it was exactly what I needed to hear.  Sticking with a calendar plan like this ensures that Evie, Mack and Vivian will each get some special time with me at least once a month.  This is something I can easily do to make all three of my kids feel special and unique and treasured!

Thanks, Mom!

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7 Comments for this entry

  1. hope byrne says:

    That is such a GREAT idea.

  2. What a fabulous idea! I can’t believe your mom pulled this off for years without ever mentioning it to any of you! I am inspired – definitely going to try to see what I can do with this lovely way to cherish each child. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Great Grandma Smithe says:

    What a lovely tradition !
    I regret that I can’t turn back the clock, but I can try to adapt a modified version. As you know, my seven children range in age from their early fourties to their early fifties. Interesting challenge/opportunity.
    Thanks and love to you and your mom Maureen.

  4. Laurann says:

    I absolutely love this! I only have one at the moment, but I’ll make sure to remember this. Such a great idea! Thanks for sharing.

  5. Heather says:

    I agree, what a terrific idea! I think this may be a new tradition 🙂 as of now we only have one child but this would still work great! Thanks for sharing.

  6. Geri Flynn says:

    What a wondrful idea your Mom shared with you Maureen!
    I was always amazed at how calm she was with her 5 children.

  7. julie badal says:

    LOVE that photo of the five of you!

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