Nine years of motherhood, and what have I learned? Lots of stuff, including.....
That 3 year olds sometimes want you to undo actions that can't be undone.
That 8 year olds really are different from 7 year olds.
That most things pass on their own, and too much effort on my part can complicate things.
That problems (especially behavior ones) should be dealt with swiftly and early--little problems are easier to solve than big problems.
That the more natural food you feed your kid, the calmer your family life is.
That it's extremely frustrating being powerless, and kids appreciate it when you recognize that (especially when they can't even tell you what they want!).
That kids' impressions of, feelings toward, and treatment of other people is a reflection of your feelings, impressions, and actions, even when the kids get big. If you want your kids to treat their father kindly and with respect, perhaps you should, too! If you want them to listen to you, perhaps you should listen to them.
That if you want your kid to have a testimony, you have to let them get it the same way everyone does (scriptures and prayers!).
That sometimes the mud is worth it. No--most of the time.
That you really don't need a TV. But sometimes putting on another video really is a lifesaver.
That a messy floor isn't the end of the world.
That kids understand and are trying to communicate from before birth, and they value people who recognize that (even when they're 2 months old).
That a tired mom is grouchy.
That a happy mom is a better mom, so it's a service for everyone in the family if I put myself first in some ways and make myself happy (by eating things I like, by taking time to write, by playing or resting when I need, and by not being a slave to my environment or my assumption of others' expectations of me).
That 3 1/2 year olds are easier to potty train than 2 year olds.
That kids learn at their own pace--and you should let them.
That lots of kids means more time for me--they entertain each other so I don't have to!
That a rocking chair and a lap are better treatments for problems than almost anything else, including "discipline."
That ice cream first, dinner second is the proper order of things when everyone is falling apart and fighting.
That when a kid is really misbehaving or falling apart, they are unhappy and need your love and hugs more than a swift kick in the butt, even though the kick is the most natural response.
That reasoning trumps behaviorism for long-term results in kids.
That kids do actually learn to sleep through the night without being "taught" or forced, and without tears.
That gross is a lot less gross than it used to be.
That I can't do everything--and it turns out it's not important to.
That smart kids make messy houses. Or is it the other way 'round?
That kids want to hear stories from my past.
That kids learn respect from being respected, not from being forced to fear.
That kids naturally like to work--when the project has value or interest to them. The trick is to make things valuable and interesting, not to "teach them to work."
That kids enjoy me feeling excited about things and loving things and having interests and talents--even if they are different from the kids' own interests and talents.
That messes don't really matter as much as we think our neighbors think they do.
That there are more moms with messy houses than moms with clean houses, but we all pretend it's the other way 'round.
That kids learn responsibility by a) observation of their parents and b) allowing natural consequences of things (and I don't mean the natural consequence that I imposed on you), and that reasoning, respect, and responsibility are all tied together and best not forcefully and falsely imposed on children.
That I really can be more patient than anyone ever thought I could be (including me!).
That my kids and your kids are different, so my way and your way of mothering are different, and that's how it should be.
That emotional honesty (with yourself and your children) has far better results than anything else.
That God cares about my kids more than I do, and He will help with this whole mothering thing.
That kids are worth more than any job or any success I ever aspired to (or had), and that I never would have guessed how fun and satisfying being a mom is.