NEW YORK — Being a parent is hard. Whether you’re doing it for the first time or juggling a house full of kids, whether you’re home all day or trying to find that elusive work-life balance, it’s pretty easy to find all the ways you’re falling short. So this Mother’s Day, we asked moms to share all the ways they’re nailing it. A lot of mothers were uncomfortable bragging about themselves — celebrating your child’s accomplishments comes much easier — but we’re glad they did.
1. Getting that degree, no matter how long it took
Gigi Bolt was 16 years old when she found out she was pregnant with her daughter. It took a long time to get her bachelor’s degree, working full-time and going to school part-time at night. She graduated in 2012 when her daughter was 17. She is getting ready to go for a master’s degree and will be attending the same university as her daughter.
“I proudly hang my diploma in my office and it is a reminder every day that no matter what your goals are, you can achieve them with hard work, patience and determination,” said 35-year-old Bolt.
2. Letting your kids cheer YOU on, for once
When North Carolina mom Sinae Santillo isn’t working full-time, she is a full-time chauffeur to her 11-year-old twins, shuttling them to various auditions, competitions and rehearsals.
Recently, Santillo heard the Durham Bulls baseball team was holding auditions to sing the National Anthem. She told the kids that “for once, Mommy will be auditioning.”
“I sang to my heart’s content, loud and proud, and didn’t care if they chose me or not. When I was done, I turned around and saw my kids cheering me on with so much enthusiasm and I saw the pride on their faces. … THAT was the best reward.”
3. Saying yes to your child’s off-the-wall requests
Tanya Wilson stepped “way out of her comfort zone” the moment her 3-year-old asked to color on her face — and she said yes.
“I don’t like clutter or mess. Even as a child I didn’t like face painting on myself. Still to this day I don’t like to get my hands stamped at events. I’m all about organization and cleanness,” said the mom of two in St. Thomas, Ontario.
Her daughter’s reaction was one of pure excitement and joy, giving Wilson her “‘aha moment’ to live a little and cherish these moments right now.”
When Terri Gold’s son was 5, he asked his mom for Fruit Loops, but he only wanted the red ones. It was an unusual request from her son, and it was unusual for her to take the time to do it. The best part of the story is that her son, who is now all grown up, still remembers.
“Prior to having my son I worked in a high-stress, fast-paced job in the financial Industry. Motherhood taught me to slow down and enjoy every moment I had with my child,” Gold said.
4. Playing the game your kid loves (even if you’re terrible at it)
At the end of hockey season, when the traditional parent/player game rolls around, Christine Craik is usually on the sidelines watching the game.
“I’m an awful ice skater, I’ll admit. And there are some amazing players among our moms and dads at our rink,” she said. But this year, she decided to jump in and give it a try because her 11-year-old son asked her to.
“We both had so much fun laughing at my lack of skill and wobbly sprints down the ice,” Craik said.
5. Getting your kid to finally sleep in her own bed
After a year and a half of co-sleeping, Courtney Perez decided it was time for her daughter to sleep in her own bed. It took a month of “trial and error” including an uncomfortable couple of weeks squeezing beside the little girl in her toddler bed, “but for the first time when my husband woke up for work at 7:30 a.m. and she was still asleep by herself in her bed, it was all worth it!”
Didn’t need to ‘cry it out’
6. Surviving a toddler puking on an airplane
On a bumpy flight from Iowa to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Micki Collins’ little girl, Gia, lost her breakfast. And it kept coming. When it was over, Collins was covered, and had a change of clothes only for her child. It was too turbulent for a flight attendant to get up.
“I didn’t freak out like I would have with my first child. I made sure she was as clean as possible and comfortable. I just sat in it. I knew I was a mom.”
7. Making a trip to the grocery store with a toddler and a newborn
After an emergency C-section and complications that landed her in the hospital several times, Ohio mom Kristi Bash had a lot of help from family and friends. “But eventually, no matter how much help you have, you will be left on your own,” said 35-year-old Bash.
Out of bananas, apples and milk — staples in a house with a 2-year-old — Bash decided she was ready to brave the grocery store with her toddler and 4-week-old.
“The grocery run took about an hour, and even though I had bribed the toddler with fruit snacks, a pony ride and a trip to McDonald’s afterward, I was shocked that we all did great! I left the store feeling accomplished and empowered.”
8. Putting together that train set, all by yourself
Patty Rodriguez in Des Plaines, Illinois, would never have guessed that putting together a train track would be so difficult. It took her a little over an hour to put together her 3-year-old boy’s Christmas present, as he watched.
“I wanted to lose my mind! But my little boy sat so patiently next to me and watched in amazement as slowly, but surely his favorite toy came together. I was very proud of myself, not only because I didn’t rip all my hair out, but because I gave Jay the best gift ever — patience.”
9. Never giving up on your child, no matter how hard it gets
New Year’s Eve was the worst day for Rosselyn Mello: Her little boy, not yet 3 years old, was diagnosed with liver cancer. But with her husband working and no family in the area, the stay-at-home mom is proud to say her older son hasn’t missed any school or homework assignments, even while she stays strong for a gravely sick baby.
“We will beat cancer, I know,” she said. “Mom will never, ever give up.”
10. Letting go of chores and accepting dust bunnies
Her first two months back at work, Courtney Lindsay was waking up two hours before her baby and husband so she could clean the house, get herself ready, get the baby ready and then be at work on time. She was exhausted.
“The day I nailed it at being a mom was the day I realized that my home doesn’t have to be cleaned daily and that asking my husband for help isn’t failure,” she said. “My home is no longer spotless but I’m well rested and focusing on those things that really matter — my sweet, sweet family.”
11. Living with ‘the most awful thing’ that can happen to a mother
Rachele Chrismer lost her sweet boy, Zach, the day before Mother’s Day in 2013. He had Infantile Neuroaxonal Dystrophy, a rare disease that robbed his ability to walk and talk.
Chrismer, who also had a younger daughter to care for, thought she was going to die of a broken heart. But instead, the Minnesota mom channeled her heartache into something that would honor Zach’s life. She started a random acts of kindness campaign and this Mother’s Day will be giving gift cards to hundreds of moms with children in the hospital.
“I can proudly show that I survived the most awful thing that can happen to a mother, and show that bad things won’t win.”
12. Just caring for a tiny human. That is enough to be proud of.
Ashley Medina said she didn’t finish college and never felt proud of herself for anything. That all changed on January 11, when she gave birth to her son.
“Every time I feed him, burp him, change him and put him to sleep, I feel so proud that I did this,” she wrote. “I’m caring for this beautiful human along with my husband and there is nothing greater in this world than that.”
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