About the Author
Mark Victor Hansen is a co-founder of Chicken Soup for the Soul.
Hometown:Santa Barbara, California
Date of Birth:August 19, 1944
Place of Birth:Fort Worth, Texas
Education:B.A. in History, Harvard University, 1966; M.A.T. Program, University of Chicago, 1968; M.Ed., U. of Massachusetts, 1973
Read an Excerpt
Chicken Soup for the Mother of Preschooler's Soul
Stories to Refresh the Soul and Rekindle the Spirit of Moms of Little Ones
By Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, Maria Nickless, Elisa Morgan, Carol McAdoo Rehme
Chicken Soup for the Soul Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2012 Chicken Soup for the Soul Publishing, LLC
All rights reserved.
The art of mothering is to teach the art of living to children.
Time Well Spent
Begin with the end in mind.
Are you a mother? Do you ever wonder
if you accomplish much each day?
When you see the floor that didn't get mopped
or the laundry still not put away?
If you sometimes feel discouraged,
I've a few questions to ask of you.
Perhaps it's time to take a look at all the things you do.
Did you fold a paper airplane?
Did you wash a sticky face?
Did you help your child pick up toys
and put them in their place?
Did you pull a wagon, push a swing
or build a blanket tent?
If so, let me tell you that your day was quite well spent.
Did you turn the TV off and send
the children out to play?
And then watch them from the window
as you prayed about their day?
When they tracked mud on your kitchen floor,
did you try hard not to scold?
Did you snuggle close as prayers were said
and bedtime stories told?
Did you wipe away a tear?
Did you pat a little head?
Did you kiss a tender cheek
as you tucked your child in bed?
Did you thank God for your blessings,
for your children heaven-sent?
Then rest assured, dear mother,
your time was quite well spent.
Did you make sure they brushed their teeth today?
Did you comb tangles from her hair?
Did you tell them they should do what's right,
though life's not always fair?
Did you quiz her on her spelling words,
as you tried hard not to yawn?
Did you marvel at how tall he is
and wonder where his childhood's gone?
Did buy another gallon of milk?
Was that broccoli you cooked?
Did you straighten your son's tie and say
how handsome he looked?
Did you hold your tearful daughter
when her teenage heart was broken?
Did you help her find some peace of mind,
although few words were spoken?
Did you help him choose a college
and get the applications sent?
Did you feel a little wistful
at how quickly the years went?
Did you help her pack a suitcase
and try hard not to cry?
Did you bravely smile and smooth her hair
as you hugged her good-bye?
Do you hold them in your prayers although
your arms must let them go?
Do you tell them that you love them,
so they will always know?
To make a home where love abides
is a great accomplishment
And to serve God as a mother is
to live a life well spent.
Like mother, like daughter.
My little Brittany wants to be like me. How scary is that?
The other day she watched me brush my teeth. A few nights later, she darted out of the bathroom with a wide, pearly-white grin. "I can brush my teeth just like you!"
"Oh, that's nice, dear." My response was casual.
"I even spit like you, too!" My head shot up as she vanished from my room.
Can I stand the pressure of this?
When I lean into the mirror to put on mascara, she leans in, too, and I feel her eyes on me. When I sing in the kitchen, she memorizes the words, and the next time she sings it with me. When I talk, she hangs on every word I say, every expression I utter, and I know she'll repeat it all some day—in the exact tone of voice.
What an opportunity!
With her little eyes watching me, examining me and learning from me, I long to be my best, to live my best. To be a good example. To be the kind of person who merits mimicking. No words teach as powerfully as my actions.
What I do and say, how I do it and say it ... Brittany is there. Aware. Ready to copy me. Wanting to be like me.
So, for now, it's okay if she studies me—how I brush my teeth, put on mascara or sing a song. If she's watching the little things, then I know she's watching the big things. The important things. The traits and characteristics I hope to instill in her life, too.
How awesome is that?
Karin A. Lovold
Remember when we were teenagers and our parents were idiots? They knew nothing about fashion, music, hairstyles or anything else that was important.
To paraphrase Mark Twain, it's amazing how much smarter my mother seems now that I'm older myself. Since my oldest daughter was born seven years ago, my mother has gotten progressively more intelligent in my eyes. Unfortunately, she died almost ten years before I had my first child, so I can't tell her just how wise I now realize she was.
My mother raised twelve kids. But, as anyone from a large family can attest, there were always many more than that playing in the backyard, eating around the dinner table—even, it seemed to me, in the bathtub. A few cousins were spending the summer. Someone's parents were going through a divorce. Someone else's family moved away, and the kids were finishing out the school year with us. Yet there was always enough food on the table and enough of her time to go around. (Mama used to say that you don't divide your love; you multiply it.)
My mother never raised her voice. This is not an exaggeration; it is a fact. I never really appreciated the self-control this must have taken until I had my own houseful. I have to admit, there are days when I hear a screaming maniac in my house and realize it's me. How did she do it? And why didn't I inherit her peaceful nature?
Mama sang all the time. She sang in the kitchen. She sang in the car. She sang when she asked you to do something. I can hear her now: "Michelle, please empty the dishwasher; Denise, please sweep the kitchen"—all to the tune of "A Tisket, a Tasket." Anytime she was on the brink of losing her temper, I realized, she broke into song— sometimes chanting through clenched teeth, "Leave your little sister alone. I'm not going to ask you again"—this to the tune of "Mary Had a Little Lamb."
In the grocery store the other day, I hung at the end of my rope when, suddenly, I heard myself singing, "We're almost finished. Then we're going home." (The tune was unrecognizable. I inherited a wee bit of Mama's patience, but none of her tunefulness.)
During her forty years raising children, Mama acquired some unbelievable tricks of the trade. Whenever she wanted to introduce a new food, she would serve it in a small casserole dish and announce, "This is a little something I fixed for your dad. If you'd like to try some, you may take a little on your plate. But you don't have to."
Of course, we'd all scramble for it and clean the plate. Dad was lucky to get any at all. Then she'd wait a couple of weeks and serve it again, but in her usual large portions. Someone would exclaim, "Wow, zucchini for everyone!" After that, it became a family favorite.
Hanging on the wall of our kitchen was a chalkboard on which my mother wrote her thought for the day—usually religious, always inspirational. The children in the neighborhood took to cutting through our kitchen on their way to the bus stop in the morning to read it. A few of them, after they went off to college or got married and moved away, would even call from time to time to have it read to them over the phone.
I tried my own thought-for-the-day board. It hung on the fridge—for about a month. I remembered to change the thought—for the first five days. Then the board hung there, with the same thought half-erased, for the next twenty-five days—right next to the behavior charts I had forgotten to keep up with. I've decided to try it again— when the kids are old enough to read.
Yes, she was an incredible woman, my mother. Though I often feel I fall miserably short when I compare my mothering to hers, it gives me great comfort to know that her gentle spirit is within me somewhere. I'm sure it will make itself known—especially when I introduce zucchini to my children.
Mimi Greenwood Knight
Her children rise up and bless her.
Tiny figures stampede past, each clamoring to get the first hug, the first kiss, all squawking at once.
"I want a piggyback ride!"
"Look what I made for you!"
"Did you bring us anything?"
Daddy throws his arms wide and draws three squirming bodies off the floor. Squeals and giggles abound as he spins them around, returns them to the floor and starts chasing them in every direction.
No more quiet house. No more bathtime. No more Mama. It's as if I've disappeared into the woodwork I've been trying to find time to clean.
He deserves this, I tell myself. He works extra hard so I can stay home with the kids. This is his reward after a long day at the office.
Who am I kidding? It hurts to see them shower affection on David, after I've been here, all day long, changing diapers, wiping noses and mopping spills. I'm the one who's not allowed to have a complete thought, stay seated through a meal or enjoy an uninterrupted phone conversation.
I'm in charge of work, worry and discipline; he's in charge of fun, frolic and fantasy. I'm the maid, the cook, the school marm—and the policeman; he's the grand marshal of the nightly daddy parade.
Where's my parade?
Of course, we made this decision together, putting my career on hold to be here for the kids. I never doubted it was the right choice for us, and I still don't. At times, however, it's hard to watch David shower, dress and disappear while I stay home, as steady and loyal as a lap dog.
Just once, I'd like to walk in the door to shouts of "Mommy's home!"
I know I'm being silly. Think of the things he misses out on, things I wouldn't trade for the most glamorous job on the planet. He wasn't here for Molly's first joke, when at a year old she reached into a basket of toys, pulled out a dumbbell-shaped rattle and held it across the bridge of her nose like Mommy's glasses. He didn't hear her belly laugh then or mine when Hewson at two strode through the back door naked except for a pair of muddy rubber boots— smiling ear-to-ear—to hand me a bouquet of ragweed.
He's not here when Molly hurts herself, and before I can reach her, Haley has rushed over to console her. Or when I offer Hewson a cookie, and he won't accept it unless I give him one for each of his "sissies" as well.
I can hear the Daddy Fan Club in the bedroom, fighting over who gets to put his shoes in the closet and who may toss his shirt in the hamper. I don't see anyone wrestling me for my dishrag. But as I clear the table for dinner, I catch glimpses of our day together—masks we constructed from paper plates, flowers plucked on our morning walk, a mountain of library books because we had to have just one more.
Would I trade all of that for a paycheck and a little office camaraderie?
As the daddy procession heads back my way, I have to admit the trade-offs are worth it. He may have lunch out with coworkers, but I get peanut-butter-and-jelly kisses. He might exchange clever repartee with clients, but I get to snuggle up and read Good Night, Moon "just one more time."
Let him have his parade. I'll celebrate each day's small joys.
After all, those are perks no benefits package can offer.
Mimi Greenwood Knight
Sorting It Out
Some sort of silent trade takes place between mothers and children.
It's a day of doing laundry,
A normal daily chore.
Washing, folding, put-a-way
And picking up the floor.
My toddler's running all about,
A ribbon in her hair,
Wearing the cutest little dress
With fashion and with flair.
I venture to the dryer
To switch another batch.
My mouth drops open wide
When I open up the hatch.
The one bra I have left to wear
That's nearly a decade old
Looks like it's been rolled around
In some yucky, greenish mold.
Somehow it got sorted in
With all my darks and blues
And now is spotted pink and green
Like smelly bowling shoes.
I just want to sit and sob
When my toddler saunters in
Dressed in too-pricey clothing
And an I-know-I'm-cute grin.
And I realize, right then and there,
How mothering's meant to be.
So I'll wear my ugly, tie-dyed bra
'Cause it's no longer just about me.
Obstacles and Opportunities
My mother had a great deal of trouble with me, but I think she enjoyed it.
Last night, you asked if it was hard to be a mom. At that particular time, I was rushing to get dinner on the table, one ear tuned in to you, the other tuned in to the argument that was brewing between your brothers in the basement.
I sighed and hurriedly answered, "Yes, sometimes it is, but it's all worth it. Now go find something to do."
My answer was rushed and a bit flippant, but you were satisfied.
"Good," you said, "'cause I want to be a mom when I grow up." Then, with a big smile, you skipped off to join the noise in the basement.
After you went to bed, I thought a bit more about your question and my answer. And yes, being a mom is hard work. In fact, sometimes it's downright difficult.
I have only a few short years (although sometimes the days seem like eternity) to teach you that you should cross the street at the corner and wear a helmet when you ride your bicycle. That it's right to say "thank you," but wrong to talk to strangers. That it's right to answer the phone, but wrong to say, "My mom's not home."
Being a mom means being a protector, organizer, juggler, chief cook and bottle washer. Some days, the list is never-ending, the responsibility enormous. But every day, I make a choice about how I view my job: a day laden with obstacles to be overcome or one that is brimming with opportunities to be seized.
It's easy to see the obstacles.
White woodwork pocked with black fingerprints. Stains on the carpet. Cobwebs in the corners. Dust bunnies under the beds. Toys on the stairs. Smelly trash. Runny noses. Ratty hair. Holey socks. Wasted food.
Excerpted from Chicken Soup for the Mother of Preschooler's Soul by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, Maria Nickless, Elisa Morgan, Carol McAdoo Rehme. Copyright © 2012 Chicken Soup for the Soul Publishing, LLC. Excerpted by permission of Chicken Soup for the Soul Publishing, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
1. MOTHERING MATTERS,
2. MOM'S LOVE,
3. INSIGHTS AND LESSONS,
4. A MATTER OF PERSPECTIVE: BUILDING BLOCKS,
5. LAUGHTER IN THE CHAOS,
6. TIME OUT!,
7. HELPING HANDS,
8. THROUGH THE EYES OF A CHILD,
9. LET SCHOOL BEGIN,
10. PRECIOUS MOMENTS,
Who Is Jack Canfield?,
Who Is Mark Victor Hansen?,
Who Is Maria Nickless?,
Who Is Elisa Morgan?,