Eight years ago today I had the very last conversation of my life with my mother. She died shortly after our phone call and I’ve spent a lot of the time since trying to move forward and make sense of something that just doesn’t make sense. That just isn’t fair.

My mom and her girls

The good news is I have learned a lot. Potentially so much more than I would know were she alive today. You know how you understand your parents so much better after you become one yourself? I feel like that, but with the added insight that only comes after you’ve lost a parent (or two). My mom was 49 when she died. That’s only 10 years older than I am now. [Oh, hello, grim reaper, please see yourself out. I am just getting this parenting thing going. Not ready. Come back never. kthxbai]

Ahem. Where were we? Oh, yes. I realize how important the little things actually are. They are. Trust me. They are the big things. Here are a few of the little big things I’ve learned:

1)      Tell your kids you love them; that you are proud of them, but write it down, too. Don’t type it, write it – your handwriting is special.

2)      Be in the photographs. I know we’ve all heard this, but do it. Even when you feel ugly and exhausted and have gray roots. Do it.

3)      Don’t blame your kids for your mistakes. Rise up and own them.

4)      Pass down traditions you love, 86 the ones you don’t, and start new ones.

5)      Don’t spend so much time worrying that you’re not enough. That you don’t have enough. That you don’t give enough. Show up. Showing up counts. Trying counts. Doing your best counts. It’s enough. It’s always been enough.

6)      Be brave enough to make hard choices when they’re the right ones.

7)      Laugh with your kids. Be ridiculous with them. They will love it.

8)      Encourage them to be whoever they’re meant to be.

9)      Promise them you are going to hold them accountable for their actions and keep that promise. Children shouldn’t raise themselves – that’s your job. It’s a bitch sometimes (a lot of times), and you’re going to make a ton of mistakes and sometimes you’ll ask for help, but that’s okay. [See #5.]

10)   Don’t give up. On them. On yourself. Please.

Me and my girls.

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