I sat down to write about my experiences so far in motherhood. It dawned on me that I was only a couple of years in. I have two girls now and I am navigating toddlerhood and a new baby at the same time. Sometimes I already feel like I’ve been a parent for a lifetime. The truth is I have a lifetime to go. This realization immediately made me feel unqualified to give parenting advice to other moms. There was only one solution to my evolving blog post. I called my mom. After laughs and words of wisdom shared, we decided to call her mom too, my Abuela Bita.
Here are the reflections and words of wisdom from three generations of Miami moms.
Meet the Moms
Tell me a little about yourself and the stage of motherhood you’re in.
I am a newish mom with two young girls. Audrey is my two-and-a-half year old and Aliyah is just four months old. Life right now is a bit of a roller coaster. It is filled with unpredictable turns, drops, and twists! If you have a toddler at home, you know what I mean. My toddler can fill me up with love in one minute and turn on me in the next. My life is full of these exciting yet polarizing moments. There is nothing quite like the curiosity and discovery of babies and toddlers. I am excited to keep introducing them to new experiences and watch as they meet so much of this world for the first time.
I consider myself to be in the “gift and blessing” stage of motherhood at this time. We have four of our five children graduated from college. Our fifth and youngest child has one more year of high school before he goes to college. I am a GRANDMOTHER, which has brought me to a whole new level of JOY and BLESSINGS. My children are my best friends now–especially my three girls.
I have four children who are grown adults now. They are all parents themselves and two are grandparents too. I have fifteen grandchildren, 5 great-granddaughters, and my first great-grandson on the way. The days of motherhood where I am responsible for raising young ones and preparing them for the world are long behind me and now I get to watch as my children do that for their children and grandchildren.
Hindsight being 20/20
What were your biggest struggles as a mother and would you change anything?
I think there can be a lot of hard or frustrating moments with young ones. Audrey, my toddler, is fiercely independent and just full steam ahead all of the time. She is so busy and determined, she can be hard to keep up with sometimes. Like any other mother out there, I often feel guilty if I snap or lose patience too quickly with her. I think it has been surprising for me to realize what a struggle it is for me to figure out what are just regular toddler antics and what are real behavioral issues that need addressing.
All of that said, the hard moments fade so quickly. I know perfection isn’t the goal and I just hope that they remember the good memories the most and always know how deeply they are loved. If there is one thing I could change, I wouldn’t have put so much pressure on myself the first time I had a baby to do everything the way I thought would be least judged by everyone else. Now I would tell any momma to be to make choices for their newborn and parenting based on what is going to make them feel the most comfortable and confident as a mom.
My biggest struggle was and is when my children are hurting or suffering. As I write this I am starting to tear up! One of the most difficult parts of motherhood is watching your child go through difficult challenges and not being able to do anything about them. Sometimes “watching” them struggle is the best thing you CAN do. I read somewhere once that everyone should have the freedom to fail–to experience pain and to learn how to overcome their struggles on their own. If we intervene too much then our children will not develop the character they will need to overcome the obstacles they are sure to face in life. If we intervene too little then they might spend years floundering, without any direction.
There is so much I could go back and do differently! I try not to do that–it leaves me feeling guilty and hurting. James Dobson, a Christian author and psychologist, wrote in one of his books that the secret to parenthood is knowing when to let go and when to tighten up. If I could go back, I would have “let go” more with some of my children and maybe have “tightened up” sooner with other children. I remember telling my husband during our trying years–the dreaded teenage years–“not to make any sudden moves!” I remember thinking back then when my children became teenagers and I was wondering, “Who is this child in my house, and what have they done to my daughter or son?!” In those times, it is best to just stand still and see which direction they are going to go before making decisions.
I think that our fear that something bad would happen, made us make too many “sudden decisions” where we “tightened up” too much–this is especially true with our first (the writer of this blog)! Poor Alisa–the oldest child takes a bit more hits as parents learn.
My biggest struggle as a parent happened when I had to separate from my husband and sons. We had to flee Cuba. For those years, I was always on my husband’s tail. He first left with the boys to Spain. By the time I was able to make it there with our daughters, they were already on their way to Miami to establish themselves until we could afford to reunite there. It was very difficult for me to be away with them for so long but it was what we had to do at the time to keep our family safe.
Reflecting and smiling
What is your favorite memory as a mom and which stage of motherhood has been the best for you?
I am so fortunate that both my husband and I have such close, loving families. Hands down my best memories are those where I get to watch my girls be loved by so many people who we both admire. I am often in awe of my baby brother, who is only in high school, and how involved he wants to be in her life. She is equally excited to spend time with Tio Danny at every opportunity. I am still in the beginning stage of motherhood but I think my favorite stage has been the one I am in now. My sisters are my best friends so to be able to watch my daughters begin to form their bond with each other now brings my heart so much joy. I hope when these shared moments between them turn into sibling rivalry sprawls I can chuckle!
LAUGHTER in general has been my memory. Enjoying my children, having “real” conversations with them, it’s what I treasure most. I definitely recommend having sleepovers with your grown daughters. It is the BEST and that was a memory from just three months ago! NEVER STOP creating memories.
Alabao, hija. Si no me acuerdo que me pasó ayer, como que voy a acordar lo que pasó hace años? Are you kidding me, kid? I can’t remember what I did yesterday and you’re expecting me to remember what happened years ago? I think I would probably say singing to my kids is my greatest memory. I loved to sing to them and even though it happened so many years ago when they were very young, I’ll always remember that. Caring for them as babies was my favorite stage.
Advice for Mom Life
What would you say to new moms now based on what you have learned through your motherhood journey so far?
Enjoy it! I have spent so much time anxious and worried that I was about to be in over my head with the next stage in parenthood. It’s happened with every pregnancy and each new chapter of my kids’ lives. Every time I reach that point, I am pleasantly surprised that it was easier or better than I expected. Motherhood has been so much more fun than I ever expected! You have so much to look forward to, embrace it, Mama!
GOD is your best friend. PRAY OFTEN. There is so much I could not and cannot control and my faith is what helped me remain strong throughout all the challenges we face.
Felicidades. Congratulations (I laughed out loud at what I perceived was my Abuela telling me we should all mind our own business but she elaborated). Learning how to be a mom really only comes with first-hand experience as you go through it and everyone’s journey will be different. There isn’t anything else I can give new moms but to wish them well as they begin their very personal path of being a mother.
Long after my Abuela and I hung up, our conversation stayed with me. I believe we can learn a lot from each other, especially those that are farther along in their journeys than us. I also know how hard it can be as a mom when everyone has an opinion or advice to go by. Even though we often express advice with the intention to help, it can also overwhelm moms. I hope that I can help other moms feel supported, feel worthy, and be confident that they’re the best mother. Maybe the next time I meet a new mom I’ll start with Felicidades.
Happy Mother’s Day, Mamas!