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Advice from an Experienced Mom: Don’t Blink

Today’s post is from guest contributor Tammy Ingraham. A Reno mom of five, Tammy has seen it all, and more than once. She’s also earned lots of life experience in raising a special needs child, adoption and step-parenting. Read on for sage wisdom from a pro.

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The Ingraham Family: Raechel (25), Tammy, Cody (19), husband Joe, Bo (14), Brooke (18), Megan (28; not pictured).

“Don’t blink!” As a young mother, I heard this piece of sage advice from many women with only feathers left in their nests. “Surely they have forgotten how difficult it is,” I would often tell myself.  Raising five children, there was no time to ponder about being present or asking myself if I was enjoying this time of my life or rather just enduring it.

My measly 24-hour day was filled to overflowing with laundry, sports practices, music recitals, errands and trips to the market.  I’d spend every day filling my family’s needs, and most of the time there just wasn’t any time or energy left to fill mine.

I can offer countless memories of mad hatter craziness: from taking the kids to school with mismatched shoes to forgetting dress-up days (which resulted into turning them into clowns between what I could find in my purse and minivan).  A mom’s purse really is comparable to Batman’s utility belt!  There were days filled with running from one classroom to another to volunteer, afternoons spent playing crossing guard at school, and evenings spent well into the night to make homemade cupcakes for their school parties the next day.

There was one particular moment that I felt particularly out of control…quite literally.  I had a baby in a high chair and two toddlers at the kitchen counter waiting while I prepared lunch. Suddenly, the laundry machine spun off-kilter and was clattering as though the house was falling, and simultaneously the phone rang and my daughter spilled her milk.  Turning to run toward the phone, I ran face first into the upper pantry door that I had left open.  I knocked myself to the ground, and as my ears began to ring and my vision began to tunnel, I crawled to the phone to let the caller know that I was passing out.

Luckily, it was my husband calling.  My little boy came over to check on me and I handed him the phone.  Daddy told him to get ice for Mommy, so he promptly obeyed and placed a rock-hard blue plastic ice block on my face.  This startled me to awareness and I came to.  As I got my wits about me, in the middle of all of this chaos, my little daughter is crumpled in complete hysterics….laughing!  It was at that moment that I decided I should steer her away from any career decisions that require seriousness coupled with quick-thinking, and that my son should be a first responder when he grows up. Fifteen years later, this story is often recanted at family dinners and we all dissolve into laughter.  Our little boy is all grown up and in the fire academy; our daughter is in college awaiting to declare a major once she finds one that pays $100,000 per year and allows her to set her own hours…

I had to always remind myself that my children were priorities and not interruptions.  This was a season in my life, and far too quickly it would pass.  But of course, one never really realizes that until you live life backwards.

Take some sage advice from this experienced mom:  make time for the things that matter to your children no matter how old they are.  Play cars with your little boys, and try not to allow your eyes to glaze over when they are teens and talk to you about the motor in their real cars.  Play dolls with your baby girls and try to remember that it is not personal when they take out their middle school moodiness on you.

Prepare the child for the path, and not the path for the child.  Help them build their life’s toolbox by teaching them tools that they can use as they grow.  This is how you look in the mirror at the end of the day, regardless if your house is in shambles and the laundry is piled high, and smile a weary smile because you know that you gave motherhood everything that you’ve got.

And whatever you do, don’t blink.


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