My kids—gloriously, wondrously, delightfully—think I’m cool.
I dyed my hair blue nearly a year ago, and recently I transitioned it to purple. My 6-year-old wasn’t annoyed or embarrassed, like maybe she could have been in another decade. Instead, she picked out purple glasses to match my hair, and told me that now all she needs is purple hair to match.
Then, when I, too, chose new glasses for myself—purple and like hers—she was beyond ecstatic to be Matchy-Matchy with Mommy. Because I’m still cool.
I’m aware it won’t always be like this. There will be, minimally, a stretch of years in high school where Mom will be anti-cool. I’m not prepared for it, so much as expecting it.
In the meanwhile, I want to do these 75 things—while I still easily can.
1. Let them in. Let them know and understand who I am, so they hopefully reciprocate as they grow.
2. Cover their soft skin in kisses.
3. Hold them when they cry.
4. Teach them to breathe through emotions that feel too big to handle.
5. Play dolls.
6. Color instead of doing the housework, at least from time to time.
7. Really listen to them when they talk to me, because even the most seemingly small stories they share often have pieces of who they are growing up to be buried inside.
8. Let them practice yoga with me when they want to, even if it means I physically get less out of it.
9. Slow down and let them walk.
10. Teach them to ask for help.
11. Teach them they can do so much on their own.
12. Let them wear the tutu over the sweatpants, even if I think it looks ridiculous.
13. Let them buy a shirt from the boy/girl section so they learn to appreciate their own and others’ gender fluidity.
14. Help them see the fun of rainy days.
15. Put my phone down and look them in the eyes when they talk to me, so I can expect this from them later.
16. Teach them manners, so they can show respect for others and themselves.
17. Laugh at their silly jokes.
18. Remember they are not me.
19. Read tons of books with them.
20. Help with puzzles, even though I’ve never liked puzzles.
21. Say “no” when it needs to be said, even if it’s harder for me in the moment.
22. Say “yes” when it needs to be said, even if it’s harder for me in the moment.
23. Play in the snow.
24. Jump through the sprinkler.
25. Never make them kiss and hug anyone so they learn who is in charge of their bodies—themselves.
26. Enjoy, as much as possible, my constant bathroom companions while they still love my company so much, I can’t even go to the bathroom alone.
27. Sing along to their favorite songs with them since right now they think Mommy has the prettiest voice.
28. Never dismiss what they like, even if it’s “Caillou.”
29. Show them we all have bad days, but that a bad day doesn’t equal a bad life.
30. Show them to look for the hidden happiness that exists within every ordinary day.
31. Watch them dance, and wiggle and move to music in that open way only little kids can.
32. Dance with them.
33. Teach them to work with what they’ve got, not against it. (Like my daughter’s curly hair, for example.)
34. Be positive about my own body with them.
35. Teach them to use the correct words for body parts—like vagina, penis and breasts—instead of crude, or cute, nicknames.
36. Help make potentially stressful mornings of getting everyone ready for the day in a short period of time feel fun and productive by shouting “We did it!” together.
37. Support my husband’s parenting in front of them.
38. Let them remind me how the simplest of life’s experiences—like watching the sun rise from between the trees while we wait for the school bus—becomes incredible with a fresh perspective.
39. Crouch down next to my toddler to watch her be fascinated by a bug.
40. Be a safe place for them.
41. Dress up on Halloween.
42. Get excited about the holidays—remember to share in their enthusiasm rather than seeing the ways holidays can be difficult for adults.
43. Appreciate our differences.
44. Take charge of my own feelings by, for instance, saying “I’m so mad” instead of “You’re making me so mad.”
45. Value kindness.
46. Dye my hair purple. Even though I’m 37. Show them how to take care of our individuality while respecting society as a whole.
47. Celebrate every single birthday.
48. Celebrate every single new laugh line.
49. Stop and look into their eyes and always be appreciative that I get to share their childhoods with them.
50. Maintain my own interests and hobbies as much as possible so they learn to prioritize both self-care and hard work.
51. Show them some goals take daily effort and time to finish, like when I write books or when they practice new skills like reading and writing.
52. Show them where and how the world and people aren’t being treated equally, and teach them to believe we should feel a responsibility to help.
53. Teach them to care for our possessions, but not to place too much value in things.
54. Take time to hug.
55. Tell them how much I love being their Mommy.
56. Show them how much I love being their Mommy.
57. Occasionally take days “off” from social media—without grand announcements—to remember the importance and beauty of “real” life.
58. Eat the birthday cake.
59. Make new traditions for them and our family.
60. Pass down traditions that are meaningful to me.
61. Look with awe at the moon.
62. Be in awe of the seasons.
63. Never stop playing.
64. Expect them to explore their uncomfortable emotions, like anger and sadness.
65. Always have at least one “impossible” dream.
66. Always make a wish on the stars.
67. Celebrate others’ successes with them.
68. Teach our daughters how to admire the beauty of other women rather than be envious of them.
69. Remember what makes us uniquely beautiful, too.
70. Try to see their fears and joys from their youthful perspective and not my own experiences.
71. Teach them to value the strength of their own voices and to balance this with listening to others.
72. Remind them I love them and their company, but I am their parent.
73. Teach them how to disagree while being respectful.
74. Don’t keep everything special and fun for the weekend.
75. Be present with them when it’s hard, when it’s wonderful, and when it’s just another normal day with them while they’re still little.