Mama says

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On Mother’s Day, women across the nation were thanked for taking on “the hardest job.” It really is the truth.

I mean, on the surface, teaching life lessons to the next generation doesn’t seem too terribly hard. The rules of polite society aren’t too difficult overall. You begin with the standards.

Say “please” and “thank you.” Use your inside voice. Be clean, reverent and kind. The latter may be lifted from the Boy Scout oath, but I have an Eagle Scout, so it works.

Then we move on to the repetitive exposure breaking of the wills. “Sit up straight.” “Chew with your mouth closed.” (For the love of all that is good and holy, PLEASE chew with your mouth closed.) “Don’t wear white after Labor Day.” ” Don’t make me come up there.”

We assign chores, monitor homework, encourage teamwork, and discourage bullying of any kind. As they grow and move further from us, we aren’t there every moment to prod and correct. We just have to pray the message is getting through.

Look inward

I can recite a laundry list of my children’s accomplishments, and I will at a moment’s notice. Try me.

Still, I never rest on my laurels. Let’s be frank, in today’s world, you are always just one tumble into a gorilla cage away from being vilified.

I’m sure Lee Harvey Oswald’s mother thought she was killing it (no pun intended) in the parenting game. The truth is that at any age you can’t please everyone.

Therein lies the bulk of my parenting once we got past the basics and the ground rules: You do you. By this, I mean be yourself.

Respect yourself

Too often, we give too much credit to other people’s opinions. This is never truer than in our teen years.

Revel in the power of being yourself. Everyone has his own set of unique gifts and talents to bring to the world. When you twist your personality into something you are not to please other people, you set yourself up to fail.

Dedicating your life to meeting impossible expectations — be it test scores, touchdowns, or “thigh gap” — is a recipe for disappointment. Avoiding criticism is a recipe for exhaustion.

Friends

You’ll have plenty of friends that will come and go. That’s OK. Not everyone is supposed to be with you forever. Some are just along for a portion of your journey.

When you do find a friend who sticks through life’s ups and downs, cherish that. True friendship is a valuable commodity.

Speaking of relationships, life isn’t a romantic comedy or scripted by Disney. Love is strong. Like is important, too. Relationships need to be cared for and nurtured.

Remember a bad day isn’t a bad life. Work at it. People make mistakes.

You don’t need to attend every argument you’re invited to. Don’t be a doormat, but do practice forgiveness. You might need someone to forgive you someday.

Stay focused

It has been wisely said that if you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there. You don’t have to have it all figured out, but please be open to education, opportunity and new ideas.

Once you’ve decided what you’re aiming for, make sure you work toward it, even if it’s one small step at a time. Don’t be afraid to fail. Be afraid not to try. You will fail. Learn from it and move on.

If you’re not willing to look stupid sometimes, nothing great is ever going to happen to you. Be you, bravely.

Staying grounded

When times get hard, get on your knees and pray. Your faith is like an anchor; it will keep you grounded and help you overcome difficult situations.

Whether you live next door or in another country, if you feel like you’ve made a mistake or just want to talk, I’ll always be there for you.

I truly do not care if you get the top grades, the most friends, or all the points.

I do care that you sit with the lonely kid, the lost soul, and that you never add to anyone’s discomfort. More importantly, that you do what you can to alleviate it.

Above all else, be kind.

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Warm, witty and just a wee bit warped, Kymberly Foster Seabolt is a native of Kent, Ohio, who survived childhood exposure to disco and grew up to marry and move to the country. Her column weaves her special brand of humor with poignant, entertaining, and honest portrayals of parenting, marriage, and real life. She currently lives in northeastern Ohio with her husband, two children, two dogs, two cats, and numerous dust bunnies who wish to remain nameless.

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