Long ago, I quit as Maid to my kids and they fired me as Manager. I’ve tried to stop being Nag, also known as The Enforcer. So what roles are left when the kids are grown? Here’s my personal, work-in-progress list in an essay on Brightly.com:
Remember David Letterman’s Late Night Top 10 lists? I miss them. Here’s a new one –
Top 10 Reasons to fill out THE BOOK OF YOU: For My Child with Love (A Keepsake Journal) for your son or daughter
#10: to get out the crayons and draw stick figures and decorations, all in the name of parental love
#9: for an excuse to pull out those toddler photos that make your heart melt
#8: to apologize for that ONE time you made a parenting mistake
#7: to relive some sweet/ridiculous/proud moments from your son or daughter’s childhood
#6: to plant seeds for experiences you want to have with your child in the future
#5: to finally try your hand at doing one coloring page
#4: to give a big thank for the gifts and help your son or daughter has given you or others
#3: to revive that parent-cheering-wildly-in-the-audience feeling
#2: so your son or daughter can pull your love off the shelf whenever they need to feel it
#1: so your child never doubts your love
Time Magazine (February 13, 2017) reports in The View Health section that strong family ties are linked to improved longevity, sibling relationships are a boon to well-being, and spousal interactions can have big benefits. Based on recent studies by scientific experts:
“Interactions in our relationships impact us more than we think.”
“Older adults who said who said they felt ‘extremely close’ to family members on their list had about a 6% risk of dying in the next five years compared with about a 14% risk of death in the same time period among people who didn’t feel as tight with their family.”
“…Young people who considered their relationship with their brother and sister to be positive had fewer depressive symptoms compared with those who didn’t get along with their siblings.”
“On days when (married or co-habitating couples) had a pleasant, positive conversation, the partners felt less lonely and more intimate, and fell asleep faster, than on days when they didn’t.”
These studies support what we already intuitively know, that deep and long-lasting relationships with loved ones are among our most valuable treasures in life.
See the full Time Magazine article here.
“Storytelling is one way couples bond when a relationship is young. But between long-term partners, the conversation often becomes mundane. Psychologists say it is important to keep telling and listening to each other’s stories,” according to a 7/4/2016 Wall Street Journal article by Elizabeth Bernstein.
So true. Also true – your stories can be told aloud or in a guided journal: What I Love About You and The Book of Us for love stories and appreciation; or Picture of Me and The Book of Myself for stories about you that maybe you’ve never told.
Wall Street Journal article: Why Good Storytellers are Happier in Life and in Love
Just in time for Valentine’s Day…
“It is impossible to truly tell someone, how much you love them, especially since it relates to the matters of the heart, and all of us aren’t linguists with long train of words to express our emotions. But if…you always find yourself at a loss of words, then this book is the perfect thing. It uses a simple fill in the blank approach to open the doors of expression. You can just fill in all the blanks and give it as a personal gift to remember you by.” Review on this site.
What I Love About You, Mom just got a nice review on this website.
“We know that even though most of us are attracted to the idea of writing a journal, few are eventually successful in doing so. The major reason is, we just do not know how to express ourselves. This is where this guided journal comes in. Not only will it help you to preserve beautiful memories and parts of your life, but also, for the first time, help you realize, how much you truly owe to your mother. Writing this will give you an insight on the inner workings of your mind.”
How would you answer these prompts for your mom? Here are a few of my answers in the journal I gave my lovely mom:
I. You might have thought I wasn’t listening, but I have. Here are a some life lessons I’ve learned from you…
Top 5 List
1. Be frugal, whether you need to be or not.
2. Eat healthily (no processed foods, except chocolate)
3. Connect with nature as often as possible (at least once a day)
4. Smile until you mean it.
5. Look to dogs as good role models (especially border collies).
II. I was or am happy that you are my mother when…
I see friends losing their mothers. I’m grateful that you have taken such great care of yourself so that you are so vibrant and able to be a part of our lives at 85. You are a role model for aging well!
III. If I could make three amazing things happen for you by waving a magic wand, I’d…
1. bring Dad back to keep you company (and do the taxes for you)
2. erase all your occasional aches and pains so you can scamper along on hikes, free of pain
3. let us both travel the 3,000 miles between our homes with the snap of our fingers
[These prompts are from the gift journal – What I Love About You, Mom – a sweet way to share memories and appreciation with your mom.]
Most reviews of our books make me smile for one reason or another. This new review for What I Love About You made me smile so much this morning that I just had to share it:
“Probably my favorite product from amazon all-together! The book is so thorough, and is appropriate for any stage of a relationship. I love that there are questions that really apply to the specific couple – the way it’s written it encourages you to give a detailed, very personalized answer and it feels almost effortless to fill out! There are around 89-ish pages to fill out though, so leave a little time to do it. I love that there are all types of questions (check off, fill in the blank, paste a picture, etc.). This book expressed everything I’ve been feeling for the past 7 years with my significant other and I very, very highly recommend it. Of all the sentimental gifts I’ve given, this one got the biggest (positive) reaction, and is my absolute favorite.” – BrittanyN10
Wow, I just heard the sweetest story. Last month, my friend Pam got a copy of the What I Love About You, Mom for her mom. She set it on the coffee table and planned to start filling it out for her mom over the weekend. That evening, Pam’s adorable daughter saw it and began leafing through the pages. She’s in second grade, and excited about learning to read and write independently. She asked Pam if she could write in it for Pam’s upcoming birthday. Wow. Of course Pam said yes, and suggested she fill out 9-10 pages for her birthday, then 9-10 more for Christmas, and so on.
After her birthday, Pam showed me what her daughter had given her. I was floored by how well she was able to complete the first set of pages. Our goal in creating the short answer and check mark format was to make it easy for anyone to fill out, but I was still surprised to hear how easy it was for someone as young as this sweet gal. She wrote precious memories from “when she was young” with freshness and inventive spelling. She thanked her mom for “changing my dipers” and making “good snaks.” I know she’s going to love the pages that ask for drawing.
I’m happy for Pam to have this expression of gratitude from her young daughter, and a keepsake of this moment in time.
Whenever we tell people about our gift journal for moms – What I Love About You, Mom – it usually gets them talking about their own moms. Since I had just gotten a handy dandy new Samsung phone with an amazingly clear video function, we decided to film a few of them answering questions from the journal.
1. What’s something special or unique about your mom? Answers involve favoritism, shining lights, and time keeping. They also prove that young men do love their mamas. Watch.
2. What’s something you want to thank your mom for, big or small? Answers involve New Jersey accents, acceptance and safety. Watch.
3. Share a memory about your mom from when you were a kid. Answers involve snapping turtles, balls of yarn, and a toad in trouble. Watch.
I just have to share part of an excellent article by Jason Lengstorf on his blog, Scrawny to Brawny. Here’s the general theme: “As simple as it seems, taking the time to recognize the good stuff can have a huge positive impact on your relationships with colleagues, significant others, friends, and clients.”
Excerpt from Jason’s article:
STOP GLOSSING OVER THE GOOD STUFF (How to Be Positive and Happy)
Positivity at Home
Every day I tell my girlfriend, Alison, what makes her special to me. Whether it’s her outfit, something cute she did that put a smile on my face, or just the fact that – to my bewilderment – she still hasn’t thrown all of my things out the window and changed the locks.
As a result, I can share my frustrations with her without it feeling like the relationship is ruined. We still fight, but those fights happen with the understanding that we don’t have each other, we’re just pissed that one of us was supposed to do the laundry and instead watched an entire season of The West Wing.
Yes! This is what at least two of our journals are all about…taking time to recognize the good stuff in your relationships. It may be simple, as Jason says, but not necessarily easy without some help, or a jumpstart from something like What I Love About You and What I Love About You, Mom.
Jason’s full article is here.
I love this sweet mother-of-the-bride music video from Carrie Underwood to her mom, but I can’t help but think she should’ve used What I Love About You, Mom in there instead of a plain old photo album. Have a listen:
CatholicMom.com Interview with Kate about What I Love About You, Mom :
Q: Tell us a bit about What I Love About You, Mom — what prompted you to write the book and what went into its design and contents?
When David’s mom had a special birthday a few years ago, we wanted to give her a memorable gift. She had no material needs; like many moms, all she really wanted was love and appreciation from her children. We decided to adapt an earlier journal that we’d published for couples – What I Love About You – for her. All four of her adult children filled it with memories and thanks, and presented it to her on her special day. She was floored. To this day, she says it’s the best gift she’s ever gotten from her children. We decided to create a version of this journal for others to do this for their moms, too.
What I Love About You, Mom is a little fill-in-the-blank journal that helps you tell your mother the many things you love, admire and appreciate about her. We provide the prompts, and you fill it with memories and love. It lets you share memories from the early years; express admiration for your mom’s special qualities and talents; say thank you for the many things she’s done for you over the years; and express good wishes for the future.
It’s not always easy to say what’s in our hearts, so the journal leads you through this in different ways: writing prompts with a few lines to answer, lists to checkmark or circle, spaces for photos or drawings, fun things like a template for a gift certificate, a place to trace the outline of your hand like we all did as kids…lots of different ways to express thanks and memories. Some of the prompts are more playful (I love this funny family sorry about the time you…) and some are more reflective (You are strong or unique in this way…).
Q: What are readers saying about their experience of using this book?
What I Love About You, Mom has only been out a few weeks, so we are just now hearing from people who have started writing in it. They’re saying that they can’t wait to see the look on their moms’ faces when they give it to them. They like making a one-of-a-kind gift like this for their mom. Some have said that the journal is giving them a deeper appreciation for how important their mom has been to them over the years.
We expect similar responses to this book as the ones we’ve gotten over the years from people using the couples’ version – What I Love About You. They share that it does take some time to write in the journal (at least a few sittings), but that the pleasure that it gave their loved one, many shedding tears of joy, made it a wonderful experience. We hear about how close it made them feel to each other.
Q: What’s your favorite section of or activity in the book?
David and I worked hard to include a mix of topics and activities so that everyone—all kinds of personalities and preferences—will find things that engage them and are comfortable to them.
I liked doing the more creative pages. Even though I’m not an artist, it felt right that a child-to-mother gift include a little drawing. One page in the journal asks you to pick one word that describes your mom and illustrate it. I picked “determined.” My mom is a great role model to me for aging well—she works hard at staying mentally and physically fit. She had a stroke a few years ago, but immediately started re-training and very soon was back to her farm work and hiking the hills. I drew “D-E-T-E-R-M-I-N-E-D,” with each letter climbing up a hill. The final “D” was on the top of the hill, wearing sunglasses and a carrying a walking stick.
I also liked writing about things I look forward to in our relationship; things I want her to a part of in my life and that I hope we can do together, both big (celebrating future weddings and great/grandchildren) and small (tea time, watching our favorite shows, going on walks).
Q: Have you filled out the book and gifted it to your own mothers? What was their reaction?
David’s mom is still thrilled with her copy, years later. She has it on her coffee table for all her friends to see. She says she wishes she’d thought to do something like this for her own mother before she passed.
I filled it out for my mom as soon as we got the published edition earlier this year. We live on opposite sides of the country and don’t get to see each other often, so this was a nice way to stay close. She’s in her early 80’s now, and doing really well, but you never know what could happen, so I am immensely grateful to have been able to fully express my appreciation to her now. She loved it. She especially loved hearing my memories of our early days, which triggered memories of her own. As a result, we had fun exchanging stories, including a funny story she told me about a trip to the pediatrician when I was a girl that I had never heard before.
Q: How will children — including adult children — benefit from enjoying and sharing this book?
Performing acts of love feels good. In our experience, expressing love and gratitude like this is at least as beneficial to the giver as it is to the receiver. One person told us that the memories the journal extracted from his mind were as pleasurable to him as he expected they will be to his mom. In addition to the pleasure of recalling happy times, writing about the relationship, focusing on the positive blessings, makes you feel more connected and even more loving to the person. If the journal brings you closer together, that’s truly a gift to you both.
David and I feel more at peace knowing that our moms have heard what’s in our hearts. Saying “I love you” is great, but there is something powerful about giving something that can be read and re-read many times over. Now we can be sure that our moms know how much we love them back.