“If you fumble raising your children, nothing else you do in life matters very much.” I happened upon this quote during a particularly difficult time for me – we had just moved to Arkansas where I found myself starting over in terms of career and community. It was tough, and I often found myself glancing at this quote, which I had written and posted on our refrigerator as a reminder of what really mattered to me.
And that was you. You were our only child at the time – Jackson came along a few years later. And as badly as I wanted to build a successful career, I knew I wanted to be a great mom even more.
It was then that I made a goal for myself that I knew would raise the bar pretty high and wasn’t a short-term kind of thing. That goal? I wanted my children to be able to say they had a happy childhood. That meant I needed to buck up and get busy every day for the next 18 years at least if I wanted to check this one off.
Along the way, we’ve had some pretty amazing adventures as a family, plenty of ups and downs, lots of laughter and our share of tears. Your dad and I have learned some amazing things from you and your brother, and I realized how hard it is to be a great mom. Yet the goal was well worth striving for despite my short-comings. As I see how you and Jackson not only left the nest but soared into your own lives, I am hopeful the goal has been reached in some small way.
In addition to the ins and outs of parenting, I have also learned a lot along the way about life, love, professional wins and losses, friendship, personal growth and discovery. In honor of International Women’s Day, I wanted to share a few of those lessons that I think have been game-changers for me and I hope they will for you, too.
1. Believe you can – Don’t be afraid to dream big, especially if the obstacles are great. Know that you might be the one that breaks the mold or proves the critics wrong. Just because it hasn’t been done before doesn’t mean it won’t ever happen. If you believe in yourself, you’re half-way there.
2. Trust your instincts – You’re smart. You’ve seen enough of life and come across different types of individuals to know when something or someone is authentic and worth your time. Trust your gut to lead you toward opportunity, toward those who will make your life richer and fuller. Just remain open to learning so your instincts will only get better as you grow.
3. Assume the best – Cynicism is ugly. Hope and potential attract opportunity. Enough said.
4. Never give up – There are plenty of times you’ll feel redirected, but a true win is holding on to something or someone that is truly worth your while. Most of the wins in life are because you hang in there when everyone else calls it quits. In business and marriage, resiliency is key and often means the difference in claiming victory.
5. Earn self-respect – Accolades are great, power and money have their benefits, of course. But don’t make these things your ultimate goal. Always make decisions you are proud of, and in the end, this is all that really matters. Most of all, know how much you are loved and respected by your family. That we are your greatest fans and will always be there to cheer you on.
And while I have enjoyed success as an entrepreneur and achieved many things I dreamed of doing in life, being a parent has been the best job I’ve ever had.
Thank you for letting me be your mom.