Rule #10: Make a Plan, But Always Be Prepared to Edit

As a writer, I know all too well the evil twin of editing. The words birthed from the mind of a writer grow into lovely sentences, paragraphs, then pages. And, before you know it, when you send them out into the world, they have to withstand the brutal impact of cutting, hacking and pasting over said words’ blissful, original intentions. But it’s inevitable. It’s hard to swallow. And, more often than not, it’s for the better.

It’s kind of like planning, when you’re a mom. We love to create these memory book/Facebook-perfect plans. Man, women, do we seriously try! But then Plan B, C, and D through Z hit you in the face like puke on a car seat. That happened to me, actually, midway through a perfectly planned family vacation to the Happiest Place on Earth.

Want to hear more examples? (To be fair, it’ll make us all feel better.) There are always the unforeseen injuries and sicknesses that thwart my big Plan A’s. These are deal breakers. Like my eldest son’s broken ankle on the first day of basketball camp on the first week of summer break. That certainly forced a massive edit on a planned schedule of active summer days running that little ankle around playgrounds and soccer fields, and dunking it into the pool water and ocean surf. The aforementioned vomit analogy would apply to all the times that hellish stomach bug has invaded the boys’ bellies, taking over the thought of any activity beyond running from the bed in a fetal position to child pose at the toilet bowl.

There are countless more edited plans that have been less dramatic (like punishments for the boys’ messy rooms trumping a fun day you planned at the zoo or your toddler refusing to do naptime as usual through the “Star Wars” movie you planned to watch at the theater, but now Plan B has you pushing the stroller in laps in the lobby while popping Mike & Ikes), and I’m sure all moms have their own bucketful of memories they could dump out. Unfortunately, it’s something that just comes with the territory. Things don’t go as planned. But you know what? Edited plans also have some sort of silver lining.

Yep, I said it. Hear me out. The storm of pain, headaches, stress and worry give way to some sort (albeit, harsh) of sunray of a reality check. I’m not saying it’s the old adage that “everything happens for a reason.” That’s apathetic and annoying. It’s just that sometimes these backup plans force you to witness some beautiful things you might not have otherwise seen.

Things like the way your son concentrates on piecing the corners of a puzzle first, then the center of the picture, like you do. Or how he sweetly hums off-key to a song he doesn’t know on the radio. Or how his hazel eyes are rimmed by flecks of copper light. My eyes and ears open wider, my pace is slower. And I appreciate the simple treasures when big plans are sabotaged. God certainly gives me a good kick-in-the-butt reminder that life will still go on without my grandiose plans.

Not to say I still don’t pout about it inside. Sometimes there just aren’t enough words to edit.



Rule #28: Give Yourself a Break

By Ashley Daniels

Being a mom is tough. But, let’s face it, we’re toughest on ourselves. That’s why, moms, you need to Give Yourself a Break. Easier said than done, I know. But it’s #28 out of a list of rules I plan on sharing with you because I think it’s important to get the word out. Whether you think each rule is worth following, is up to you.

This one is intended to thwart you from the Mommy Guilt that seems to invade and fester in our Mommy DNA, which is programmed to nurture, chase and answer the call to all things “Mommy!” Guilt goes on the attack when, God forbid, we’ve had enough. Why is there just enough guilt to pull us down if we don’t react with a kiss and a smile?

Never mind that your child’s response after you’ve packed his lunch, paid for his school field trip, helped him with homework, ordered a new pair of $20 goggles for swim team and picked him up from his after-school club is an eye roll, followed by tears and a trembling lip, after I had to yell the third reminder to, “Take out the trash!” (His daily chore.) Each request, by the way, comes at an increasing volume, to penetrate through the Beats he so nicely keeps locked onto his ears while he’s scrolling through his Nerf Gun battle channels he follows on YouTube.

And, the other day, this same 9-year-old son burped loud and long. I give him a look that told him he should’ve swallowed that burp deep back into his throat. Next up was looking down at the untied Nikes of my 7-year-old middle son (my sons total three) to bark out, “Tie your shoes!” before we fly out the door to the car drop-off lane at school. His shoes are forever untied – sometimes minutes after I’ve double-knotted them.

Enter guilt, after I open the door and return to a quiet home and miss the hundreds of ways those boys fill these rooms and my heart with love and laughter. After I replay my sharp tongue. Guilt, however, shouldn’t snuff out those beautifully happy moments. Give yourself a break.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t gather them up into your arms and grab their little hands as often as you can each day. Because I’m a big believer in taking advantage of those sweet, small moments. Life is too short, as they say. And what they say is true.

True, too, is being true to yourself – and to your kids. Know that they don’t need a flawless, fairy tale Mommy keeping up with scenes little ones only see played out on 20-minute family sitcoms on the Disney Channel. Or the perfect ones posed and posted on Facebook. Mommies are dimensional, real and, well, human.

Which means we’re far from perfect. No one is perfect. So it’s OK for our sons and our daughters to see us that way. Give Yourselves a Break, moms, stay-at-home-moms, working moms, and working-from-home moms. Give yourself a breather, time with a good book, a good glass of wine, or a good jog through the neighborhood to clear the air.

When you do, it will clear your mind of those guilt toxins and replace them with peace of mind. At least for a little while.