Tell Me More

It is impossible to not love Hoda Kotb. Watching her on the Today Show is inspiring. She loves what she does and she loves her family life. She brings a sense of accomplishment and wonder to the table. She might be the best role model for blending career and family. But all of this took her a while to set in motion and understand.

I was particularly moved on her first day back to work after a five month maternity leave having unexpectedly adopted her second daughter. She was paying attention to life during those five months and made sure we knew how magical it had been for her. She has a very high profile on morning television and it is refreshing to see her personality show through. She is real. She has waited a long time for her family life. She appreciates everyone and everything around her. She elevates anyone who sits next to her.

A great segment with guests Esther Wojcicki who wrote “How to Raise Successful People” and Kelly Corrigan who wrote the essay “Advice to My College Freshman” in The New York Times as well as the book “Tell Me More: Stories About the 12 Hardest Things I’m Learning to Say” — gave great tips on not only raising successful people but how to navigate and accept the empty nest when your kids leave home. Esther was so calm in her approach to letting her kids discover the world around them and how they fit into it and Kelly was hilarious in her nervousness in trying to tell her daughter everything in an hour that she wanted her to know before leaving her at college.

Hoda brought up that we parents try so hard to teach our kids all the life lessons we want them to know that we push them too hard. Kelly’s book offers that listening is key by simply saying “tell me more” instead of giving solutions. I took note of these simple three words — tell me more — what a great way to not only listen but extend a conversation.

Life experience whether in career or family life does give clarity. We are meant to learn from mistakes and situations that don’t feel right. The panic and anxiousness felt in our 20’s and 30’s fades as our confidence builds. We shed friends and family that drain us to the core. We find ourselves having more moments of joy than sadness. We center our days so as to not exhaust ourselves. Seeing life through someone else’s eyes is a better way to understand and bond with them.

It is not lost on me that the way to know a person’s heart and mind is to listen to what they say and what they are fascinated by. Let them know you hear them instead of trying to help them. I am learning that all of us young and old have a creative outlet. Acknowledging that creativity is amazing. I scrolled through Chris’s pictures on his phone the other day and got an insight into what he takes note of when outside.

Dragonfly in Flight
Spider Creativity

When my kids call me — which is surprisingly more often than I would have thought — I want them to “tell me more.” Their ideas are more valuable than any solution I could conjure up. They’ve got it together. They have creative outlets. I want to know them more as adults than try and keep them young. They deserve that from me. They can now teach me.

One thing I have always had my whole life is a love for people. The journey someone’s mind takes fascinates me. I love reading biographies and following along on what it took to get where they wanted to go. It takes a while to understand what is worth paying attention to every day. As time goes by I see that learning to shed rather than accumulate is a path to feeling happy.

Mom Thoughts

I want to think that I was a fun mom — BUT — I do remember worrying most days about keeping the house clean and organized. My kids have all told me at one point that they would stop making their beds when on their own and there was nothing I could do about it. I don’t blame them for rebelling. No glass ever sat on the table for longer than five minutes before it was dishwasher bound. Kids want to grow up with a certain amount of dirt and chaos and mine were deprived of that most of the time, All of my television role model moms of the 1950’s and 1960’s kept their house spotless. My own mom kept our house spotless. As a kid I had chores on a list and each one done paid me five cents. Making my bed was on that list.

I have thought about who might have been a hilarious mom and Lucille Ball comes to mind.

Her daughter, Lucie Arnaz, was asked about that and this was her response:

Now, Arnaz’s favorite memory of Ball, who died in 1989, is decidedly unglamorous.

I sort of always come back to the idea that any memory where she’s just home and has time to just be with us, any of those simple, the simplest of dumbest of memories, you know, making a grilled cheese sandwich in the kitchen,” Arnaz says.

This was the funniest woman ever on television. She made life a hilarious string of unbelievable ideas on how to live daily life. She helped families at home watching television laugh together. Her daughter simply wanted a grilled cheese sandwich and time to just be with us.

It sounds so redundant to say but truly the time the kids are home until age 18 does go fast. I look back now and realize it is impossible to make time slow down while raising kids. There is always so much to do, somewhere to be, homework to get done, chores to complete, meals to cook and emotions to soothe. Kids are loud, they fight, they leave fingermarks on walls and wet towels on floors — they are busy living their thoughts. I was longing for quiet and order when I should have been listening and laughing — helping them live their thoughts.

So, it’s time for me to start to focus on each rare moment of the day as best I can. I needed to find more laughter and started listening to a podcast where I thought I could find some hilarity — “Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend” — He is hilarious with no script. I wonder how his kids feel about him? Is he funny at home? Does he give them time outs? Do they think he’s as funny as I do?

What about Melissa McCarthy? Does she have her kids make their beds? Can you just decide to be funny and it magically happens?

Here is Melissa’s take on disciplining her very funny kids:

On The Struggle To Discipline Funny Kids

We have very funny kids. [When they try to get out of trouble by being funny, we’re like,] ‘Good bit, strong bit. However, you still have to go clean up your room.’ It’s a balancing act. Kids are really smart. They pick up on everything and then you still have to not laugh in front of them as you tell them that something’s not appropriate, or something might be too aggressive. Then, when they leave the room … Ben and I try to write it down so we don’t forget, and then laugh a lot without them seeing. It’s a system in a web of lies. That’s what it is.

There are all kinds of moms who do their best with limited skills. I think there should be a mom class that teaches how to laugh not only at what kid’s introduce to your life but also at yourself and how you handle it. Maybe I can start one — it will start with a house full of unmade beds and I have to let that go for a day.

Life gets very complicated when you have to keep order in every room in the house. We all need creativity to express what our brains are trying to help us focus on. Noise is good — it means everyone is still alive. Wet towels eventually get washed and smell better. Fingermarks get painted over on walls but we treasure those plaster school projects with the hand imprint. Siblings stop fighting and turn into life-long friends. Scrapbooks reveal the memories that remind us that we did have fun and laugh at least once a month.

Breaking The Rules Once In A While