Wednesday, January 25, 2012

25 Rules of Mothers with Sons

I just have to re-post this article I read from the blog Team Studer. I am now teary-eyed knowing that I only have one more week to spend with my son before I start working full time again. How I wish life isn't that hard and money does grow on trees so moms (even dads) like us won't have to work and just stay at home to spend all our time with the kids.

Here's the article with some photos of me and Johan:

1. Teach him the words for how he feelsYour son will scream out of frustration and hide out of embarrassment.  He'll cry from fear and bite out of excitement.  Let his body move by the emotion, but also explain to him what the emotion is and the appropriate response to that emotion for future reference.  Point out other people who are feeling the same thing and compare how they are showing that emotion.  Talk him through your emotions so that someday when he is grown, he will know the difference between angry and embarrassed; between disappointment and grief.


Mommy mimicking Johan's cries


2. Be a cheerleader for his life. There is no doubt that you are the loudest person in the stands at his t-ball games.  There is no doubt that he will tell you to "stop, mom" when you sing along to his garage band's lyrics.  There is no doubt that he will get red-faced when you show his prom date his pictures from boy scouts.  There is no doubt that he is not telling his prom date about your blog where you've been bragging about his life from his first time on the potty to the citizenship award he won in ninth grade.  He will tell you to stop.  He will say he's embarrassed.  But he will know that there is at least one person that is always rooting for him.


Come on, Johan, say hi!


3. Teach him how to do laundry..and load the dishwasher, and iron a shirt.  He may not always choose to do it.  He may not ever have to do it.  But someday his wife will thank you.


I told him to fold his clothes.


4. Read to him and read with himEmilie Buchwald said, "Children become readers on the laps of their parents."  Offer your son the opportunity to learn new things, believe in pretend places, and imagine bigger possibilities through books.  Let him see you reading...reading the paper, reading novels, reading magazine articles.  Help him understand that writing words down is a way to be present forever.  Writers are the transcribers of history and memories.  They keep a record of how we lived at that time; what we thought was interesting; how we spoke to each other; what was important.  And Readers help preserve and pass along those memories.


Reading time!


5. Encourage him to danceDance, rhythm, and music are cultural universals.  No matter where you go, no matter who you meet - they have some form of the three.  It doesn't have to be good.  Just encourage your son that when he feels it, it's perfectly fine to go ahead and bust a move.


Yeah!


6. Make sure he has examples of good men who are powerful because of their brains, their determination, and their integrity.

Johan and Papa Lolo


7. Make sure he has examples of women who are beautiful because of their brains, their determination, and their integrity

Johan and Loly

8. Be an example of a beautiful woman with brains, determination, and integrity. You already are all of those things.  If you ever fear that you are somehow incapable of doing anything - remember this:  If you have done any of the following:  a) grew life b) impossibly and inconceivably got it out of your body c) taken care of a newborn d) made a pain go away with a kiss e) taught someone to read f) taught a toddler to eat with a utensil g) cleaned up diarrhea without gagging h) loved a child enough to be willing to give your life for them (regardless if they are your own) or i) found a way to be strong when that child is suffering...you are a superhero.  do not doubt yourself for one second.  Seriously.

The prettiest I've ever felt was during our wedding day

9. Teach him to have manners. because its nice.  and it will make the world a little better of a place.

Use a spoon and not your hands while eating. Well,  I said when eating not eat the spoon.

10. Give him something to believe in. Because someday he will be afraid, or nervous, or heartbroken, or lost, or just need you, and you won't be able to be there.  Give him something to turn to when it feels like he is alone, so that he knows that he will never be alone; never, never, never.

Johan's baptism

11. Teach him that there are times when you need to be gentlelike with babies, and flowers, and animals, and other people's feelings.

Johan and Sofia


12. Let him ruin his clothes. Resolve to be cool about dirty and ruined clothes.  You'll be fighting a losing battle if you get upset every time he ruins another piece of clothing. Don't waste your energy being angry about something inevitable.  Boys tend to learn by destroying, jumping, spilling, falling, and making impossible messes.  Dirty, ruined clothes are just par for the course.

Swimming on the floor, er, playing with his car.


13. Learn how to throw a football. or how to use a hockey stick, or read music, or draw panda bears (or in my case alpacas), or the names of different train engines, or learn to speak Elvish, or recognize the difference betweeGryffindor and Slytherin, or the lyrics to his favorite song.  Be in his life, not as an observer but as an active participant.

Tan family summer outing


14. Go outside with him. turn off the television, unplug the video games, put your cellphone on the charger, even put your camera away.  Just go outside and follow him around.  Watch his face, explore his world, and let him ask questions.  It's like magic.

Greenbelt

15. Let him lose. Losing sucks.  Everybody isn't always a winner.  Even if you want to say, "You're a winner because you tried," don't.  He doesn't feel like a winner, he feels sad and crappy and disappointed.  And that's a good thing, because sometimes life also sucks, no matter how hard (as moms) we try to make it not suck for our kids.  This practice will do him good later when he loses again (and again, and again, and again, and again.....)  Instead make sure he understands that - sometimes you win - sometimes you lose.  But that doesn't mean you ever give up.

Johan getting angry when there are no more coins for his coin bank

16. Give him opportunities to help others
There is a big difference in giving someone the opportunity to help and forcing someone to help.  Giving the opportunity lights a flame in the heart and once the help is done the flame shines brighter and asks for more opportunities.  Be an example of helping others in your own actions and the way your family helps each other and helps others together. 

Sharing the Blackberry with his cousin, Jared


17. Remind him that practice makes perfect. This doesn't just apply to performance-based activities (like sports and music) but also applies to everything in life.  You become a better writer by writing.  You become a better listener by listening.  You become better speaker by speaking.  Show your son this when he is just young enough to understand (that means from birth, folks - they are making sense of the world as soon as they arrive), practice trick-or-treating at your own front door before the real thing.  Practice how you will walk through airport security before a trip.  Practice how you order your own food from the fast food cashier.  Practice, practice, practice.

Practicing his motor skills


18. Answer him when he asks, "Why?" Answer him, or search for the answer together.  Show him the places to look for the answers (like his dad, or grandparents, or his aunts/uncles, or his books, or valid internet searches).  Pose the question to him so he can begin thinking about answers himself.  Someday, when he needs to ask questions he's too embarrassed to ask you - he'll know where to go to find the right answers.

Tan summer outing

19. Always carry band-aids and wipes on you. especially the wipes.

Daddy's work not Mommy's

20. Let his dad teach him how to do things. ...without interrupting about how to do it the 'right way.'  If you let his dad show and teach and discover with your son while he is growing up, some day down the road (after a short period of your son believing his dad knows nothing), he will come to the realization that his dad knows everything.  You will always be his mother, but in his grown-up man heart and mind, his dad will know the answers.  And this will be how, when your son is too busy with life to call and chat with his mom,  you will stay connected to what is happening in his life.  Because he will call his dad for answers, and his dad will secretly come and ask you.

Climb some steps

21. Give him something to release his energy. drums, a pen, a punching bag, wide open space, water, a dog.  Give him something to go crazy with - or he will use your stuff.  and then you'll be sorry.

Hiding Mommy's phone in his potty

22. Build him forts. Forts have the ability to make everyday normal stuff into magic.  Throw the couch cushions, a couple blankets, and some clothespins and you can transform your living room into the cave of wonders.  For the rest of his life, he'll be grateful to know that everyday normal stuff has the potential to be magical.

Makeshift crib


23. Take him to new places. Because it will make his brain and his heart open up wider, and the ideas and questions and memories will rush in.

Tagaytay, January 2011


24. Kiss him. Any mother of sons will tell you that little boys are so loving and sweet.  They can be harsh and wild and destructive during most of the day.  But there are these moments when they are so kind and sensitive and tender.  So much so that it can cause you to look around at the inward, reserved grown men in your life and think, 'what happens in between that made you lose that?'  Let's try to stop the cycle by kissing them when they're loving and kissing them even more when they're wild.  Kissing them when they're 2 months and kissing them when they're 16 years old.  You're the mom - you can go ahead and kiss him no matter how big he gets - and make sure he knows it.   p.s. (this one is just as important for dad's too). 


25. Be home base. You are home to him.  When he learns to walk, he will wobble a few feet away from you and then come back, then wobble away a little farther and then come back.  When he tries something new, he will look for your proud smile.  When he learns to read, he will repeat the same book to you twenty times in a row, because you're the only one who will listen that many times.  When he plays his sport, he will search for your face in the stands.  When he is sick, he will call you.  When he really messes up, he will call you.  When he is grown and strong and tough and big and he feels like crying, he will come to you; because a man can cry in front of his mother without feeling self-conscious.  Even when he grows up and has a new woman in his life and gets a new home, you are still his mother; home base, the ever constant, like the sun.  Know that in your heart and everything else will fall into place.



Now, I am tearing up already. This post took me down the first year of Johan's life and then it occurred to me how lesser time I will be spending with him once I start work next week. How sad.


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