We had so many great entries for our Mother’s Day Essay Contest (read our May 2014 issue for more essays) that we didn’t want to limit ourselves by only publishing only the winner and honorable mentions. Here are five other entries that we felt deserved special recognition and attention. Happy Mother’s Day everyone!
What I Love Most About Being a Mom ...
By Gina Johansen of Wakefield
I always knew I wanted to be a Mom. It was such a natural feeling for me. I knew I wanted to love, nurture, teach, protect and respect my child. I just didn't know what my journey would be. After many years and many losses and many prayers – I was blessed with the gift of my son, Joshua. I knew he was growing inside me almost instantly. I just knew.
When he was born, the moment I saw his big eyes is a moment I will never ever forget: overwhelming joy. My cup runneth over! He was here! Finally here!
Naturally, my "plan" for my journey to motherhood would have been a little different than God's plan for me, but during these last five years of being Joshua's mom, I believe, of course, that God knew best.
I believe it gave me a different perspective, even a little more patience. Maybe it made me a better Mom and made me appreciate life and its challenges so much more.
I do so love all the challenges and rewards that motherhood brings. I've loved watching him grow from a happy, playful baby into a very active, outgoing, loving, smart, silly, kind and compassionate little boy. Oh, did I say active?!!
I love watching him learn and create and grow into the beautiful little boy he was created to be. He is all this and so much more. My life is so much richer, fuller and more meaningful because I have the privilege of being a Mother. I cherish every moment, every day. Being a mom has made me into the person I was meant to be. This is a love like no other. I am so very blessed!!
By Linda Orel of Sharon
Being a mom has been the most joyful experience of my life.
My 5-year-old daughter Samantha gives. She gives by allowing me to be imperfect by sharing her unconditional love, affection and admiration. She gives by challenging me to be my best, enabling me to be more patient, generous and thoughtful. She gives by blessing my life as I watch her learn and grow to become a compassionate, independent person. She gives by raising my spirits, by sharing her cheerfulness and unabashed laughter. Samantha reminds me to slow down, stay calm and to live for each day. She is really my greatest and most wonderful gift in the world.
By Iram Moazzam of Islamabad, Pakistan
“Gosh, you are so organized!” is what I was accustomed to hearing prior to becoming a mother, but motherhood made my world turn upside down. Now I find dinosaurs in my pillows and my drawer stuff in the oddest places.
To me, the best thing about being a mom is discovering your hidden abilities, things you never thought you were capable of. Not in my wildest dreams could I imagine that my kisses on the little foreheads would have immense healing power, nor did I ever think that I would be able to discuss potty colors shamelessly at the dining table.
These two little miracles I gave birth to showed me that I could survive watching the same cartoon movie twice a day the whole week through, and I could still manage with mere four hours of sleep, or even less. I found out that it’s OK to share my favorite chocolate bar and that I could be a queen of multitasking.
Motherhood is a roller coaster ride of emotions, one where you learn on the go. But it is also the best thing that ever happened to me. I can’t imagine my life without my two naughty boys who have made me more patient and let me rediscover my childhood. Lastly, the journey of motherhood revealed to me that my heart no longer beats inside my body.
By Sarah Gardner of Norwood
For me Mother's Day and motherhood are a bittersweet triumph and beautiful proof of my faith in love. My most wonderful realization of motherhood was discovering how truly easy and natural it is to love your child.
Despite a painful upbringing, I was able to bring two amazing people into the world and feel the most incredible joy in their smallest delights and developments. Wanting to keep their world safe and be there to see them become themselves in their own unique ways was (and is still) the best feeling in the world. It made me whole. Yet this was also heartbreaking because I was suddenly rawly aware of exactly how it was missing from my early life.
I could no longer make pitiful excuses. I immediately stopped sending Mother's Day cards to the alcoholic narcissist who often said "having kids was the worst thing that ever happened to me.” I became the mother I needed, both for my kids and myself. Knowing that natural “motherhood energy,” true caring and love coming from inside my heart takes good care of me now.
This may not be a typical Mother's Day essay, but it had to be written in case some young mother out there is trying to come to terms with this sort of thing. Know that being a mother is the best mother for you, too. Give yourself the same love you give others.
By Amy Ford of Quincy
“Don’t blink. It goes by so fast” has been the most consistent phrase I’ve heard from other mothers since becoming one myself six years ago.
When I was pregnant with my daughter, it seemed as if those nine months dragged, as did the first few months of Grace’s life when she had colic. I remember thinking, “Oh right, like I’m going to miss this. Not!” Or when my son, Tommy, spent his first few months in Children’s Hospital fighting for his life. I would’ve given anything to do an “I Dream of Jeannie” blink to make that time disappear.
Blink I did, however. This fall, Grace will be entering kindergarten, and I will be returning to the work force. Oh how I wish I could go back, only knowing what I know now, for perspective and appreciation’s sake.
I have come to realize that the true pleasures of motherhood are earned far more on magical ordinary days, the days with little-to-no expectations. Today, I know my kids are happiest when it’s “just another day,” when we have nothing on the agenda and the whole day waits to be filled like an empty canvas. On days where spontaneity rules, our kids realize they are truly the center of our universe.
I love that motherhood has taught me to slow down and appreciate days like this, marked not by one or two spectacular moments, but rather just by the simple joy, peace and fulfillment we get by being together as a family.
Read the winning essay and more runner-ups here.
One of the main challenges of parenting is awakening the child’s desire to learn, explore, discover, and express. Sure, we can leave the education part to the teachers and the iPad, but is that the right solution? No! Sometimes, parents have to interfere. It’s their job to be the first teachers their children will ever have.
As your children make progress through different educational levels, they will be expected to write. A lot! College and university, in particular, are heavily linked to academic writing. Your kid will have to write essays, research papers, term papers, and, hopefully, an entire dissertation. The first challenge is an essay.
The teacher assigns an essay with broad guidelines, and your little student is expected to deliver a masterful piece by a precise deadline. You’ll probably face a very frustrated child at this point. Your kid is supposed to write an entire paper, but no one taught them how to do that. Maybe they were writing short stories before, but an essay is a whole other thing. How do you help them write a perfect paper? There are 5 steps to success.
Practice, practice, practice!
A professor of education at Arizona State University reviewed around 250 studies on how to help students develop writing skills. Professor Steve Graham was trying to answer the age-old question: is it best to leave students to learn writing naturally, or do they achieve better results when they get instructions? He found that effective practices do help with the progress. Here’s the first tip he gives: spend more time writing.
The writing practice is not applied in the classroom. Teachers may give brief exercises, but what they prefer doing is using the classroom time for lessons and leaving the practice part as a homework activity. So, you’re in charge of that part of your kid’s education.
If you want your kid to write great essays, you need to motivate them to write a lot. Think of a theme of the day. What did they learn today? Did they learn about the solar system? Set a topic: “If you could visit any planet, which one would you choose? How do you imagine life there?” The following day, set a realistic topic: “Do research on Africa. Write about the way animals live there.”
Make sure these topics are interesting for your kid.
An essay usually consists of 5 paragraphs: an introduction, three body paragraphs, and a conclusion. Teachers usually explain what each paragraph is supposed to contain when assigning the first essay to the class. However, sometimes they forget to provide examples, so the students have no idea how the actual paper would look like.
At the website of any essay writing service, you’ll find great guidelines and samples of various types of papers. Give few of them to your kid to read, and help them envision what a proper essay looks like.
Use Pinterest to organize resources
Pinterest is a really fun tool for creating visual material you find on the web. Parents like using it for collecting parenting tips, home decor ideas, photos of beautiful clothes, and much more. Now, you can start creating special boards for your kid’s essays.
The essay writing process starts with good research. Before your child can write a paper on a topic, they need to learn something about it. They won’t be able to memorize all information they read online. Moreover, they will need to save the resources, so they can reference them in the paper. That’s why Pinterest is a great tool to use during this stage. Whenever you find an interesting source of information, pin it in the relevant board.
Once your kid is inspired enough through the online material you both located, they can proceed to the following stage.
Brainstorm and plan
One of the main requirements for an essay is cohesion. If you assign a topic and let your kid write whatever comes to his or her mind, you’ll end up reading a disconnected essay that the teacher won’t like. That’s why it’s important to start the process with brainstorming and planning.
- MindMeister is one of the most effective online brainstorming tools. If your kid is not that good at using the computer, you can create the map as he or she comes up with ideas. The mind maps created with this tool are highly visual, and they help the user find connections between the arguments.
- When the writer-to-be gets the main ideas through the brainstorming process, it’s time for planning. Essay Map is a great tool that helps fit those ideas in a proper essay structure. It asks the writer to create a few sentences for each section of the paper, and then it offers a map for the essay. After that, it will be really easy to connect the dots and write the actual paper.
Let them use the tablet
Does your kid think that the tablet is much more fun than plain pen-and-paper? That’s okay. We’re dealing with tech generation, after all. You can use your child’s preference for technology to inspire him or her to write. Byword is a great text editor for iPad. It makes the process of writing clean and simple, and it has a neat markdown feature.
To make the essay writing process more fun, you can use Bamboo Paper – an app that simulates the process of writing with a real pen on a real paper.
Beware: the process won’t be easy. Your kid will likely show some resistance to essay writing. What’s the best method to fight resistance? Persistence! Inspire your kid to practice more, but think of more amusing topics every time. When you manage to turn writing into a daily routine, the success will be inevitable.
Karen Dikson is a teacher and a writer from New Jersey. Her works have been published on Huffington Post and other well-known educational resources. She loves to help her students succeed and achieve their goals. Connect with Karen on Twitter
Follow the Parent Toolkit on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.