I celebrated my thirtieth birthday just two months before I became a first time mother to Leah Suzanne Page. I had been teaching for nearly a decade at Avondale Elementary and was so ready to be a mom! My husband and I had “unexplained infertility” for three years, so this made us even more excited to add a new baby to our family. The transition into motherhood can be tough on anyone. And it is not just the difficulty of the first one’s arrival, it is the continual development of the baby, brothers/sisters who follow that first-born, and of us as a mother. Of course, a child’s needs change and vary with each stage of his or her life. I still recall easily as a new mother sometimes wondering what my “identity” was. Before Leah, I had been an elementary teacher and then a lead teacher for the last four years. I had a lot of responsibility and I loved what I did. Especially as a Lead Teacher for Student Services, a pilot position in DeKalb County, I was able to help kids who really needed extra attention and TLC. When I found myself as a Mommy, one-on-one with this little precious person, I rarely, but on occasion, questioned my ability to handle this job assignment. That may sound odd, but it also may be familiar to you who have had a similar experience as me. I have always loved Carole King, especially her Tapestry album, and Beautiful became my theme song! Click here to hear this song and read the lyrics. Most moms, including myself, will agree that as mothers, there are greater rewards than can even be imagined! Though I am not yet a grandmother, lots of my girlfriends are, and I imagine it would be helpful to look back on the busy season of young motherhood when becoming a Grandma. Now that our two children are grown, college graduates, and both married to their best friends, it is fun to look back and think about a few of the job assignments and roles I have held with Leah and her brother, Walker, for the past two and a half decades:
Infant Stage Mom Assignment: baby cuddler, rocker, changer, a night-feeder, a light sleeper/early riser, and more, available for all shifts, 7 days a week, no vacation unless the ideal substitute has been secured and trip has been well planned out
Toddler Stage Mom Assignment: an athlete in top condition to safeguard busy toddler, quick reflexes, knowledge of first-aid is essential, 15 hour workdays, no coffee/lunch breaks unless child naps, boundless energy and infinite patience, provision of healthy snacks and meals, reads to child daily, begin manners teaching, praying with child, and more
Preschool Stage Mom Assignment: share time with newborn, brother: Donald Walker Page (see above infant stage for tasks needed with Walker, lol), provide books, puzzles, play doh, etc. in a loving, creative, learning environment for preschooler, two hours off five days a week when Mom’s Morning Out is in session and child is well, reads to child daily and more
Ages 6-12 Stage Mom Assignment: good understanding of many sports, chauffeur, willingness to be a scout leader, room mom, love of nature with no objections to mud, spiders, insect collections, pets, and neighbor’s kids, continues to read to child daily/child reads to mom, (see above toddler stage tasks for tasks needed with Walker) and more
Ages 13-18 Stage Mom: provider of money for chores, chaperone, specialist in adolescent psychology (haha), large-quantity cook, ability to recognize when presence is embarrassing child and casually disappear, encourager of independent reading by teen, counselor, (see ages 6-12 stage tasks for tasks needed with Walker) and more
Age 18 and Beyond Stage Mom: provider of more money, clothes, music, wheels, and more, NO advice necessary (unless solicited), and… this stage will last indefinitely <smile>
After going through these humorous, extensive lists, much of which I’ve likely inadvertently left off, I started thinking of a Focus on the Family article that I read early on in my mothering years. The article emphasized four phases of Parenting. Again, now that we have two grown children, I can attest that these phases are very accurate. While they do overlap, if these ideas are applied to the parenting of your children or even considered with your grandchildren, I believe you will find them as helpful as I have found them through the years.
- PHASE ONE: COMMANDER: Early Years-In the first years of a child’s life, a parent does everything for him/her. During this phase, the following phrases are used repeatedly: “Yes, because…” or “No, because…”
- PHASE TWO: COACH: Pre-teen Years-During this season, household chores are important, along with not only teaching the child about life, but also encouraging their growth from direction to self-direction. Try to help clarify, rather than dictate their choices, asking, “Would you rather do this or that?”
- PHASE THREE: COUNSELOR: Teen Years-These are the years when a child can reasonably be expected to understand what is right, just, and fair. The operative phrase from the parent is, “That’s a decision you can make.”
- PHASE FOUR: CONSULTANT: Freshman College and Beyond-This phase can truly be the most difficult of all because it involves letting go. The phrase to keep on the tip of our tongues is, “Please let me know if I can help.