An Open Letter To Mothers Of Grown Children.

open letter

You always give yourself away, by the way you smile at me and my young children. Your eyes soften and for a split second, I can see you swimming in a flood of memories. It’s usually a blended look of, “I miss when my kids were that age” and “Good God, I don’t miss that!”

Either way, I just want to say thank you.

Thank you for compassionately connecting your eyes with mine, offering silent understandings and acknowledgment that I am doing the best I can, when I’m about to lose my shit in public. You laugh at my last ditch efforts to keep my kids from melting in the check out aisle, with food I haven’t even paid for yet. I can always count on a kind, “I’ve been there, honey!” from you.

Thank you for telling me my babies are beautiful, even when my daughter has smears of grape jelly still upside her face from lunch and my son’s hair is standing on its curly ends, because I’m too much of a wuss to make him sit through a hair cut he despises. I never have to follow up your compliments with an excuse as to why my children may appear unkempt. You get it.

Thank you for giving my children your own version of the Mom look when you see me disciplining them, instead of treating the situation as a bother or act of endangerment. You don’t ignore the fact that it truly takes a village, and that is truly appreciated.

Thank you for noticing when my kids are polite and use their manners. We younger Moms always seem to be trying to convince ourselves that we don’t absolutely suck at this job. When you compliment them, you’re really complimenting me. I’m pretty sure you know that already, and that’s why you do it. What you may not realize is how much of a positive effect it has on me. Perhaps you missed how much taller I stood, after you walked away.

Be it Moms of friends, older women I’ve worked with or complete strangers I run in to, women who have already raised their children always seem to put me at ease. You always manage to remind me I’m only human, which is very much needed these days. When you share, what you thought at the time, was your own epic parenting failures, it gives me hope that I’m not screwing up my kids as bad as I think I am. The fact that you share a laugh with me when telling your stories, and you’re not in a rubber room drooling all over yourself, also gives me hope.

Your hindsight always seems to put Motherhood in to perspective, and reminds me that maybe I am better at raising my kids than Google. Somehow a conversation with you lacks the judgment often felt when talking to Mother’s my own age. I can’t explain that one and even hate admitting it, but it’s so often present.

So please, don’t shy away from saying what your eyes are shouting, when you see me with my young children. You’re not bothering me. I’m always in too much of a hurry anyway. I promise I won’t complain when you tell me to “enjoy it”. The fast pace in which it all goes, comes through loud and clear, every time we meet.

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51 thoughts on “An Open Letter To Mothers Of Grown Children.

  1. I agree and really love this post. I love when someone will stop and get nostalgic with us, it’s a great reminder that this too shall pass (and chances are I really AM going to miss these days.)

    In fact, I will often do it myself with new moms. Moms with bucket carriers hung over their arms and sleep deprivation in their eyes. If I see a mom or dad with twins that under 6 I nod and smile and ooh and awww at their little bundles because , Oh yes, I miss those tiny people of my own. I let them know how much I understand and assure them they are going to be okay, they are going to go to sleep soon, they are doing a great job.

    what a beautiful piece.

    • Thank You! I do the same thing when I see new Mommas. I only have five years under my belt but have come to learn how a simple smile can help a tired-ass Mom through her day. I’ll go out of my way to open a door, pick up a kid’s toy they’ve dropped for the hundredth time or to simply tell a Mom how much I love her blouse. It really is the simple things. Thanks again 🙂

      • I do that too. “Nice earrings!” or “love your diaper bag” goes a long way. I’m only in 6 years myself (with twins) but you’re right, it’s the small niceties that count and make the difference. Just like the starfish…”made a difference to that one”.

        (see what email did, I may never shut up 😉 )

  2. Love this! So true. I very much feel this way when I’m around women who survived raising active boys. They know what I’m going through yet they made it and lived to tell stories. Really — such a beautiful piece. Thank you.

    • If you have a rambunctious boy, you definitely appreciate those that survived raising them … And are able to ensure you that you WILL survive. Thanks for reading 🙂

  3. Oh, Dawn, this was such a lovely post. My own precious children are now 41 and 29 (how did this happen?), but I am watching my daughter with my 4 and 8 year old granddaughters. I am constantly amazed at the ease with which she juggles two young ones…I never had two small at the same time, and I truly don’t know how you girls do it. So many times when I smile at a young mother as she shepherds her little ones along, not only am I remembering how much I miss my babies, but I am awestruck by how “together” she looks doing something that would have made me jump off a roof! I think childrearing is harder now than it was 30 years ago…you have my admiration! – Fawn

    • Thank you, Fawn. Your comments always mean so much to me. And none of us really “have it together”… We’re all just winging it.

  4. Wow this happens to me too! Some random kind lady saying something nice to my children. Or telling me how time flies! or how this is the best stage… you conveyed feelings of young mothers from all over. kudos to you dawn:)!

  5. Thank you for such a beautiful post – it brought tears to my eyes… my children are now 31, 30 and 29, and spending precious time with my young granchildren reminds me so much of when my three were that age. Motherhood is not easy, parenting is not easy, but it is all so worth it. It’s just so hard to have perspective when you’re stuck in the middle of it all… I always try to give a reassuring smile to mums with little ones, because I still remember how hard it was at times. But I also still feel that having my children is by far the greatest achievement in my life, followed hot on the heels by sheer relief at not having made such a mess of it all that I put them off having children of their own 🙂

    • It IS hard to be aware of how precious this short window of time is when you’re in the midst of it. And most women like you get that. Thank you so much for reading and for such a lovely comment 🙂

  6. I love hearing your point of view on this, one that frankly, I’ve not experienced much myself. I feel like the older mothers I’ve been around have been critical, like questioning why I’m not raising my kid in a playpen or forcing him to answer with “ma’am” and “sir” like they did in the good ole days. But I’m sure some of these precious ladies you describe are out there, and I’m going to keep looking 😉

    • Please do! The difficult ones I run to are the ones that tell me I’m “too careful” or I pay too much attention to what the books say…blah blah blah. Well in “their” day there weren’t mass shootings in McDonald’s nor was their food laced with chemicals. For the most part though, I get a lot of support and love. I have to laugh at the yes ma’am part though because I am raising my kids in NY (in the country not the city) but I am from Georgia. It does urk me a bit the way kids talk to and address adults up here.

      • Yes, I have gotten some eye rolls from older moms who see nothing wrong with hormones in our food and BPA in our plastic. I’m not fanatical about it, but I’m just trying to do better. And I’m aiming to fall somewhere in the middle of Eddie Haskell’s “yes ma’am” and Andrew Dice Clay’s “yo” when addressing adults 🙂

      • I’m definitely not fanatical about it either. I always feel like I should be doing more (as most of us do). I love your idea of falling somewhere in the middle with raising your kids. The middle, average ground is what I shoot for as well. 🙂

  7. Thank you so much for this post. You brought tears to my eyes and gave me the chills. As a mother who has raised her three children into who I think are three of the most amazing adults that I know, it makes me smile because it reminds me of when I was a young mother. Just from reading your post, I can tell that you are a wonderful mother and that you truly care about your children and how you are raising them. And you must be doing a wonderful job or else you wouldn’t be receiving these “looks” or remarks from more experienced mothers. Good for you! Excellent post!

    • Yes…always wearing grape jelly, or oatmeal, or boogies, or ……

      Thank you for saying this doesn’t “sound fake”. That was actually a concern of mine when I wrote this. I didn’t want to come across as self righteous or cheesy or fake. I truly want to engage these women when I see them looking at me and the kids. And the women that are directly in my life that have grown children of their own are my go-to’s. I don’t know what I would do with out them.

  8. Dawn, this was so incredibly beautiful, I teared up. I have a one year old girl and, for the most part, I’m with you. I have gotten the occasional nasty looks but I’ll ignore those and hold the ones you speak about here. The ones that understand, appreciate and encourage.

    • The haters will always hate…but screw them, right? I try to tune it out and only acknowledge the positivity that surrounds most of the women I encounter. Thanks for reading and for the very sweet comment 🙂

    • You’re welcome. (= I’m quite sick of reading about the negative side to EVERYTHING. I’m no shiny happy person but I try really hard to look for and see the positive around me. So Thank You!

  9. hey there! i’m loving your recent posts!
    I also blogged about “An Open Letter to the Man Who Opened My Eyes To the World”. How can someone give the whole world to you and in a snap they’re gone?

    here’s what my recent post is all about…
    https://talkaboutbeauty.wordpress.com/2014/06/26/an-open-letter-to-the-man-who-opened-my-eyes-to-the-world/

    would be so nice to hear from you! 🙂

    cheers! xx

    deanna ( http://www.talkaboutbeauty.wordpress.com )

  10. Also, props to the strangers that back parents up in public places when a child is CLEARLY exploiting mom’s fear of embarrassment to get something. Like the guy who told the five year old in line ahead of me at Safeway that he wasn’t impressed by the screaming either. Kid was shocked, mom looked relieved, the rest of us had a good laugh.

    • I love those people!! I almost wish a complete stranger would step in and back me up in public sometimes. Kids listen better when it’s someone other than Mom telling them to quit acting like a fool. Thanks for sharing that with me 🙂

  11. Oh, yeah still crying. You are so very welcome. Mothering forms a connection that, you are right, rests in our eyes. I’m not sure how I found myself with the older children, but I do remember those looks when my children were younger. What a lovely post! Genuine and real and so…I’m just going to finish up crying now.

    • I’ll grab some tissues and be over… I’ve been so sentimental this past week and I don’t know why…well, daughter moving in to Kindergarten, PMS, missing my Mom…I guess I do know why. This was a topic I’ve wanted to write about for a long time, it just finally happened this past week.

      Older women (I mean older than me, not in a one foot in the grave kind of way) have always been a big part of my life. My Mom left me early but someone (call it God or what you will) has strategically placed strong, wise women around me my whole life. I absorb as much as I can, always. I’m more comfortable in a room with women in their 50’s than my own age most of the time. That’s really where this post came from.

  12. This was beautiful. When I first read the title, I thought it was going to be a letter to those busy-body judgy moms. This was much sweeter. Thanks for being less cynical than me. 😉

    • Thanks. I could write that post too…but so many already have. “Those ” women seem to get more attention than the ones I notice. I just wanted to bring a little light to these awesome Mommas 🙂

  13. My only child, a son, is 15 so I know the words ‘it goes so fast’ are true, and I am now evolving into one of those ”savor every moment” ladies. It wasn’t that long ago women of a certain age were advising me to ‘savor every moment’, and I, like you, was wise enough to listen. The days are long but the years are short. Don’t worry about what “needs” to be done, or what wasn’t accomplished in any given day. You won’t care about that soon enough. Loose yourself in every quirky, funny, poignant, heart tugging little moment.

  14. Reblogged this on Finding Spirit and commented:
    My fellow blog friend posted this the other day. Being a mom is tough stuff, especially when we don’t have mother’s or older moms to help us. We kind of make it up as we go along. Or consult Google. Which, btw, always makes me feel like a total failure.

    In this piece, Dawn speaks to the mom’s of older children–the strangers that give us a reassuring look when they see us out with our own kids. And how they may not realize that a gentle smile from them can give us hope that we may just be doing it right, after all.

    • Jenn, I’m not sure if I said thank you for this. Summertime is keeping me away from the computer, which I both love and hate. I really do appreciate you sharing this one. 🙂 Hope your summer is going well.

  15. As an “older woman” whose kids are now grown, I could really appreciate your post. Now I am a grandma and seeing it all from a new perspective. No matter our age or the age of our children, we moms share a special bond. I

    • My babies are growing up way too fast and I know that I will be in your shoes before I know it. I can imagine how different the perspective must be. I spoke of “the look” I get from “older” women and I love it. It says so much without saying anything at all…it’s that bond you mentioned. Thanks so much for reading and commenting.

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