Let’s just face it: Middle school, especially as a shy girl, is nothing short of difficult. Not only are you trying to navigate shaky social landscapes, but you’re starting to figure out how to become the person you want to be. Sometimes, the most sage advice can come from the oft-overlooked advisors in our lives: Mom or Dad. (And believe it or not, they do actually know what they’re talking about).
Skye Gould, the associate graphic designer at Business Insider, recently revisited the wisdom her mother left her in the form of letters—lunchbox letters, to be exact.
During her sixth grade year at North Middle School in Lima, OH, Skye’s mom, Stephanie, slipped a note into her lunch almost every day. The tradition started with earnest roots: Stephanie was a working mom and wanted to make up for lost time with her kids. The letters sometimes dealt with mundane, ordinary topics, but always had an important message or sliver of insight for Skye to carry with her (literally and figuratively) the rest of the day.
Almost 10 years later, as Skye started to dream up a master’s project for graduate school at Ohio University’s Scipps College of Communication, she remembered that she had kept every single one of those lunchbox letters and wanted to share them with the rest of the world. Enter “Advice From My Mom,” where Skye’s archives of all her mom’s letters, interspersed with reflections and family pictures, now live. I dare you not to get watery eyes reading through some of the best notes.
Even though she had entirely forgotten about saving every letter, Skye says that going through them as an adult made her realize that so much of the commentary her mom left really stuck with her the rest of her life.
“The messages behind them have always been stuck inside my head – to be confident and brave and follow my gut. She repeatedly told me these things and … eventually I circled back around and was able to find so much meaning in the whole thing,” Skye says.
With Mother’s Day just around the corner, clicking through Skye’s letters on Advice From My Mom should inspire you to hold onto every little momento—and piece of wisdom—that your parents leave for you. One day, you’ll be happy you did.
Editor’s Note: In an ongoing series, Dr. Harley A. Rotbart, a Parents advisor, guest blogs once a month with advice, tips, and personal stories on how parents can “savor the moment” and maximize the time they spend with kids. Read more posts by Harley Rotbart on Goodyblog and on Parents Perspective.
Our house is a simple two-story with four bedrooms upstairs, one at each corner of the rectangle-shape footprint. My wife and I are in one corner bedroom, and the other corners are our three kids’ rooms. However, except for a few weeks each year, the kids’ corners are now empty. We walk by their rooms dozens of times each day. Their beds are made, and the memorabilia of their childhoods is collecting dust on the bookshelves. The hallway walls between the bedrooms are filled with pictures of our kids at every stage of their childhoods. Just like the hallways in your homes, I’m sure.
We still drive the same minivan we did when the kids were home. Now 15 years old, it’s never looked better. No Cheerios or juice boxes on the floor, no fingerprints on the windows, crayon marks scrubbed clean. The “baby on board” sticky sign and the pull down baby window shade have been replaced by college decals and bumper stickers, now also anachronistic as the kids have all graduated.
This Sunday is Mother’s Day, typically the highest phone call volume day of the year. Whereas long ago, Mother’s Day in our home meant homemade decorations and cards, breakfast in bed, and picnics in the park, our little ones are now in graduate school or the workforce and, like so many other parents of a certain age, we’ll be looking forward to their phone calls this Mother’s Day.
As I reflect back on Mother’s Days past, when all the corners of our house were full and the minivan was a mess, when we could snuggle with our kids before bedtime and snugly buckle them into their car seats on the way to preschool, of course I’m nostalgic. But I’m not sad about how fast time has passed, and I don’t have misgivings about how we spent the time with our kids when they were young. When I walk by the empty corners of our house, I feel fulfillment and satisfaction that we were there with them as often as we possibly could be, and we made the most of the time we spent with them. On Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, but also on plain old Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. Of course, there were many childhood moments that got away from us because of our commitments or the kids’ commitments. Parents can’t be with their kids all the time, and kids need independent time to grow and form their own opinions and make their own decisions. Parents need to fulfill their adult responsibilities. But when life got in the way on Mother’s Day or Father’s Day or any other special family time, we did our best to make up for it the next weekend or two. And we made an effort to actually celebrate mom and dad more than once a year.
We can’t go back to the Mother’s Days when the corners of our house were full, but even if we could, we probably wouldn’t do it any differently—which is a wonderful feeling. It’s the feeling I wish for you when your corners are empty: the feeling of having no regrets.
Happy Mother’s Day!
Dr. Harley A. Rotbartis Professor andVice Chairman Emeritus of Pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and Children’s Hospital Colorado. He is the author of four books for parents and families, includingNo Regrets Parenting and 940 Saturdays. He is also a Parents advisor and a contributor to The New York TimesMotherlodeblog. Visit his blog at noregretsparenting.com and follow him on Facebook and Twitter (@NoRegretsParent).
Motherhood is one of the hardest and most thankless jobs out there. It’s nice to be recognized once in a while for those selfless things you do for your family. But it’s also important to laugh it off when you’re not.
The Laughing Moms, Eden Morris and Alisha Merrick, a comedy duo known for their popular YouTube music video parodies, are making it their mission to both help you get the recognition you deserve and make you laugh this Mother’s Day through a Mom of the Year contest. To launch the contest, The Laughing Moms rereleased their music video for ‘Mom of the Year,’ set to the tune of Billionaire by Travie McCoy.
“I wanna be mom of the year so stinkin’ bad,” the song opens. “I deserve an award for all the kids I’ve had.” Catch a pseudo shout out to Parents magazine in the next line and references to screaming babies, stretch marks, and poo-covered clothes throughout the song.Relate to the lyrics? Well, this year you can be mom of the year!
The Laughing Moms are accepting nominations through their website until May 7. Share a story of why you or a friend should be mom of the year and Laughing Moms will publish some of their favorite stories prior to Mother’s Day. The winner will be announced on May 10.
Melissa Bykofsky is the associate articles editor at Parents who covers millennial trends, entertainment, and pop-culture. Follow her on Twitter @mbykofsky.
In the New York City neighborhood where I live, the streets are busy on the warm spring days just before the first Sunday in May. All stereotypes about rude New Yorkers to the contrary, it is a friendly place and it is common for people to wish one another happy Mother’s Day here. Even complete strangers say it to me, often when my kids are nowhere around.
I like to think I have recovered fairly well from the physical assaults of pregnancy. We are long past the sleepless nights of babyhood in our house and the tricycle is on its way to being a rusty garden ornament. So what is the giveaway? I look down…maybe it is my abs? I like to think not. Perhaps it is something else. My breasts? No, it’s been years since I nursed my babies, although they certainly were perkier before those midnight feelings. Hmmm…perhaps it is something more subtle?
In poker they call it a tell–the little unconscious signs that give you away. When it comes to motherhood I bet I have a thousand tells. Like the dark circles that cropped up below my eyes during the first sleep-deprived flush of new motherhood and never entirely left. Or those little lines that radiate from the outer corner of each eye. They’re called age lines but I know mine are a direct result of sun damage from Saturdays on the soccer field and hours spent squinting by the side of my in-laws’ swimming pool, doing duty as the designated water watcher for my sons and their cousins. Maybe it’s the little grey hairs that I’ve sprouted of late…it is just a coincidence that they came about just as our older son started to text and Snapchat and find his way around both the social and physical world with more freedom? The scruffy nails come from loads (and loads) of laundry–a thousand pairs of pants turned right-side out, pockets emptied.
But it might also be the laugh lines on my cheeks, born of many good times with the kids. Or the soft spots on my cheek, the lucky recipient of literally thousands of goodnight kisses. Or the happiness our boys bring me that radiates however subtle and not just on that rare day when I get breakfast in bed.
I know some women take issue with the rampant tossing about of “Happy Mother’s Day.” It can be a painful holiday, one that is all the more upsetting when a total stranger thinks every passing woman is a parent. So I am careful with my greetings myself, always mindful not to assume. But when another woman–a total stranger–has the sixth sense to read my signals, whatever they may be, I always wish her Happy Mothers Day right back. Anyone who knows how much I relish this little thank you also, I am sure, needs one herself.
Now about those abs…check out this advice about helping get them back in shape post-pregnancy:
There’s a running joke in my family about my siblings giving our mom one of the worst Mother’s Day presents of all time. When my older siblings were both under the age of 3, my well-meaning dad thought it would be great to give my mom gifts my brother and sister had picked out just for her. Good idea in theory, but not so much in practice seeing as the resulting presents were a 200-pack of neon straws and a potato peeler. To this day, my mom still rolls her eyes anytime someone tells this story.
As it turns out, by taking my siblings out of the house for the shopping trip, my dad actually gave my mom the most in-demand Mother’s Day gift in the world: alone time. An informal poll of my mommy friends revealed what they’re craving most is time away from their everyday responsibilities. One friend even confessed, “Sleep and an entire day of no whining would be perfect.” To help give mom the time off she deserves, try one of these creative alternatives to classic Mother’s Day gifts.
Netflix in bed. Breakfast in bed is a classic, lovely way to celebrate mom, but popcorn in bed and free-reign to binge watch a show that doesn’t burst into song every other minute is the modern definition of bliss.
Ditch the bouquet. Take mom to the gardening store and let her pick a few of her favorite spring blooms, then spend the day planting them to create a beautiful garden for her while she’s enjoying some peace and quiet inside.
Dinner for one. Instead of a family dinner, fix mom her favorite meal and vacate the house, letting her enjoy a nice meal without worrying about who’s not eating their veggies or who’s making the biggest mess.