Moms Make it Work: Pat (Memaw!) from Missouri

We are nearing the halfway mark with this series already--beginning in January we've been reading stories about how moms 'make it work' twice per week. And now I plan to have a total of thirty-five rocking mamas in this series, taking us through the beginning of May. WOW, right? I've had a lot of other readers email to ask about posting for the series, and while I'd like to continue this series indefinitely, I have to draw the line somewhere. I don't think I can continue the upkeep with prepping posts and pictures and email reminders and plugging in the dreaded html after four months of it. I DO want to do this series again in the fall or early next year, though, and have been telling the girls who've contacted me recently that I'd love for them to come forward and offer their stories again at that time. So stay tuned for the continuation of 'round one' of MMIW. It might show up again after May, as well, so be thinking of how you want to word your posts while we wait;)

So to 'celebrate' this series being so much fun, so informative, and so interesting thus far...I'm excited to introduce today's fourteenth poster. Not that I really *need* to elaborate on her post, but I feel like my very own grandma needs an extra boost of introductions.

As I said in a previous post, I considered asking Memaw to post for us one day after an email she sent me regarding the series. She may be an octogenarian but MM is one of the hippest grandmas I know---she is on Facebook, she reads my blog and provides critiques after each post, and emails me at *least* daily just to 'chat'. Memaw was quite proud of herself when she researched for this post and discovered that 'My Life in Transition' is the entire blog, and the posts are each entry within the whole blog. Prior to this discovery she always referred to each post as 'a new blog' and I never corrected her because I *got* it, but how cute is it that she is so proud to be up on social media lingo now?

Anyway, I've been fascinated by Memaw's take on how moms of today's age 'make it work' compared to her parenting norm back in the 1950's.

After Kate's post, Memaw emailed me some very sweet words of applause. I forwarded onto Kate and we both agreed that MM had some awesome feedback. I had warned Memaw that Kate miiiiiiiight have used a curse word or two in the post, something that I'm not brave enough to do since Memaw would totally call me out on it in a heartbeat as an avid reader;) Apparently, MM didn't seem to mind it coming from someone other than her granddaughter. A quote from her email about Kate's post:

"You'll be very proud of me. the "s" word stayed in the background since I was so intrigued not only what this mom wrote but the way she wrote it. It's a winner. I couldn't seem to read fast enough because I wanted to see how she was going to to say what:)  very intriguing. Informational. Honest. And very in love with her child.Total change in her life as  a pro to a stay at home mom. And she's doing it beautifully. She and her husband look like a great team, like you and Nate. I'm getting the hang at what you're doing now and I love it. I am getting the feeling that you are building up your name as a great blogger. Proud MM."


Another email critique that stands out in my mind, and started the ball rolling to consider Memaw's personal take on parenting, was after Erin's post. Memaw knows Erin in real life, of course, and her words in response were so sweet. I forwarded them to Erin and I think they made her day, too;) Memaw's response to Erin's post show she really does have a way with words:



"Just a few things. As a writer, I must say she expresses herself via words.  I didn't know or forgot that you met on blogging.

Henry: Many of his mannerisms remind me of Truman's.  In a few pictures he would have rather not been in front of the camera:)

The black and white of Henry and Erin. totally adorable. Also the first day back at work after the birth of her boys. Very touching.

The "me" time.. I honestly didn't ever think of  that. It wasn't in my vocabulary, but since I've heard this from Erin and you I assume I may have been a little strange. I do remember longing for some alone time and like you and Erin, I found it by watching a movie [too late at night]. Don was gone alot  so I took advantage of the time after the girls went to bed.

But this email isn't about me, but it does cause me to think back to those busy mom days.
When Erin wrote, "Our house is a happy place" that pretty well sums up the balance she tries to keep between home and work. IF there was a dark cloud over the house the majority of the time, like she said, "It's time to do some changing."

I try to be so open to today's moms. Just because I had no desire to work outside the home on a regular basis, doesn't mean that moms who HAVE a desire to work outside the home are wrong not to stay at home.  May I slide this in about my mom years. The girls learned to play by themselves at quite an early age. When I thought they needed some time away from each other I'd either have a friend to come over or often, the girls were invited to a friend's house to spend the afternoon.

Back to you and Erin.  Your husbands. As you know my generation didn't have that co-parent thing going for us. For you to have this is almost too wonderful for me to conceive at times.  I've told you before how I love to watch you and Nate work together around the house and also work together with the kids. 

These blogs are giving me time to think of the way the working moms make parenting work. Trust me, you don't have to be a working mom to feel, at times, that you're doing a lousy job as a parent. The stay-at- homes have those same feelings. IF you and Erin didn't have exceptional caregivers, I am sure you would be most miserable, but as Erin wrote: The kids [the big boys] are old enough to tell parents If "something is amiss."

Both of you moms, for the most part, have very happy, well  adjusted kids. That may probably be the best way to tell you that you're handling parenting/work well.

I want to say so much more, but won't. I will try to stop writing such long emails, but I didn't know how to cut this one short. Please relate to Erin that I appreciated her honesty, and for staying positive with how she juggles her many roles. 
LOve, MM xo"

So now you can see why I wanted Memaw to do a specific post on this blog regarding her take on parenting from two generations before us. She made it clear that she didn't want to give 'advice' to us moms of today, since we all get so much unsolicited advice anyway and can be hard on ourselves without all of that darn advice. But she was down for telling her story and providing some encouragement;) She had no social media, no mommy blogs, and truly no competitive 'mommy guilt' that stems from our ability to know too much about each other's lives (I still love the internet, though!). She didn't understand what 'me time' was before this series. Pepaw was a great father but dads back then did NOT function the way we expect our husbands to contribute to parenting now. The men weren't even in the delivery rooms at birth---something Memaw mentions below. Can you imagine not having your husband there to see the birth of your child? Talk about a different time. Perhaps a simpler time with a lot of positives we could all stand to remember. 

Memaw was a young bride at 21, earned an associates degree in education, and eventually became a published author after staying at home with her three girls. Pepaw was a Southern Baptist pastor so the family moved fairly frequently for his different church homes. My mom is the oldest of her three and each of the girls had two children of their own. So far I'm the only grandchild who has produced great-grand children for Memaw and Pepaw (come on, younger cousins!) and I've loved watching Memaw's matriarch role in our family change from amazing mother, to best grandmother, to heavily involved great-grandmother. She is a huge part of our lives even though she's in Missouri and we are in Wisconsin. She and Pepaw both fly up her to visit us regularly, Memaw probably coming at least four times each year. I think the pull of these great-grandkids gets her every time! Words really cannot express how much this woman means to me and my family. Everyone that meets Memaw falls under her spell of charisma and sarcasm and trust me when I say I fully realize how blessed we are to have such a fun, healthy, energetic great-grandmother for our kids. In fact, Memaw is flying in later this week for Truman's birthday. We can hardly stand the anticipation of MM's amazing home cooked meals and fun games she'll teach the kiddos. 

So without further ado, here is my Memaw's take on how she made it work as a mother in the 50s. Enjoy!




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I have been following Julia's posts since their beginning.  I have observed that the concerns of today's moms aren't that much different from the concerns of my mom world.  Because I chose to be a stay-at-home mom, I didn't think there would ever be a time for me to do anything other than be a parent. But the time came!  I got my foot into the publishing world after our daughters began to signal that they no longer needed so much of “me” in their lives. Desiring to write but not having time to do it, my husband suggested that I start journaling after our third daughter was born. I wrote about what was going on in the life of our family. I wrote about the counseling sessions I had with myself when I wasn't sure if I was making a pass/fail grade as a mom. I wrote thoughts about my husband who, I thought, at times, he was not carrying his end of the parent load. I wrote prayers of thanksgiving and prayers that asked God for the strength I needed to get done what needed to get done. Years later, I began to read what I had written in  my journals. With that  material I began writing and getting books published. Some of my books were: “Mom, Take Time.” “I Now Pronounce You Parent.”  “A Frazzled Mother's Guide to Inner Peace” and “Help! I've Just Given Birth to a Teenager.” Once my career took off, and the girls were either beginning or out of high school,  I found myself on the speaking circuit. I spoke about my days as a stay-at-home mom. I also included information I had received from interviewing other moms. Encouragement was the undertone of my speeches, as I remembered how much it meant when someone encouraged me as a young mom.


(New mom to Pam--Julia's mom, our first born)


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But to get this post in sequence, I will start at the beginning.

B.C. (Before Children)

Once upon a time, I was a single woman, exploring ways to attract a man worthy enough to marry me!  It happened. The man, Don Baker, fell for my plan.  After we were engaged, we had a few  general conversations about getting married, but  most of my time was taken up finishing my first year of teaching and planning the wedding ceremony while Don was miles away  finishing his college degree. As the date of the wedding got closer, I still only had a sketchy idea about what was involved with the word “honeymoon.” (probably a BIG difference between you and me!)

A.C. (After Children)

Two years after the honeymoon our first baby (Julia's mom) arrived. Before she was born, I had read a baby book written by a man named “Spock.” A few days after our daughter was born I threw away the book. Our lives had no resemblance to what the book said they would be. So, together, my firstborn and I worked together to figure out what I was supposed to do as her mom. I was either totally dumb or extremely intelligent to believe that no one knew my baby as well as I did so my maternal instincts kicked in and both Pam and I stayed alive even without the help of google or the wikipedia. This never -before -heard -of technology worked in my favor, because I had few outside resources to inform me where children should be on the physical and mental growth charts so I didn't have to play the deadly “Comparison Game.” I pray you aren't either!


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My husband, the dad:

Don and I knew that it took  two to make a baby. That was the least painful part of becoming a parent. But going through labor while the future dad was in the waiting room wondering what was going on behind closed doors was an extremely anxious and painful time for both of us. He wasn't even there to hear me yell that I was convinced that I would never get through labor and still be alive. But I did...barely.

Don began trying to figure out his dad role, as I was trying to figure out mine. All he had to go on was what he had seen his dad and other dads do.   It was the time when dads worked to “make the living”  and moms stayed home to take care of the kids. Don was somewhat ahead of the times because he did change a few diapers-- not the bad ones-- and walked the floor occasionally with a colicky baby even  though it wasn't his job. He found many ways to interact with his daughter.  Later, his three daughters edged their lives into their Dad's life, and it has remained that way ever since.


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One miscarriage and two years later our second daughter, Dana, came into our lives.  She slept great, but I contend it was because I was a more relaxed mom the second time around.  By the time our third daughter, Beth, arrived I was a “veteran” mom.

Stress:  This word came up often in the posts I read. All moms know that babies add stress to their lives and that's okay because “stress” is  a good word. “DIStress” is not a good word.  There is a tremendous difference between these two words. The “not good” word first. Symptoms: Being terminally tired, due to an unconcerned baby who has no idea that a mom needs unbroken sleep to do her job.  Loss of sleep can make a mom think she is not a good mom. It can make her lose all hope that there will ever be a day when she can go to the bathroom without something dreadful happening someplace else in the house while she's away from her post. Distress can make a mom think, “There will never be a time to think “me” instead of “kids”  “These kids are never going to grow up”  “My husband can't do anything right.”

There are times when a mom might need medical attention if distress becomes a daily occurrence. Agreeing to get help is one of the most unselfish decisions a distressed mom can make in the name of “family.” I know!

Stress: The good word. Being a family of two and adding babies to the mix produces a change in  lifestyles that parents read about but don't really believe till they're living it. I did some searching to come up with a word that was similar to the word “stress” that didn't have negative connotations with it.  “Pull” won out. Moms are pulled in different directions-- constantly making changes and adjustments—both of which go with the territory of parenting.  This 'pull' creates energy to get things done at the speed of lightning, even if a baby only takes 10 minute naps throughout the day. The “pull” generates enough energy to fix the semblance of a meal while one child is hanging onto your leg, you are holding one on your hip and you have no idea where the oldest one is or what he is doing. Even in all the confusion, these really are the best  “Time Management Years” of a mom's life.  They teach a mom to know that on any given day, she must decide (for the sake of her mental health)  what has to be done, what can wait till the next day or the next week, and “I'll do it after the kids leave home.”

And then there were FIVE:

After # 3 baby was born, I kept doing the same things I had been doing  with the first two babies, but there was just more of the same to do. I was still tired from the first birth, so I assumed I would stay tired for the next ten years.  I fell into the same pattern of making the best use of my time: Cleaning or at least straightening the house, laundering, grocery shopping; paying bills;  searching for lost pacifiers, favorite blankets or toys—and in between I was doing what moms were supposed to do for/with their kids.

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Regrets:

My husband has taught me to not live with regrets since they serve no purpose.  But I still remember my biggest regret. My mother was a tremendous mentor during the first years of my parenting, but I should not have taken her advice when she convinced me not to nurse Beth, #3. Her reasons were very shallow but evidently I believed her line of reasoning. 

Another regret: I was not always consistent in disciplining the children.  I think that being terminally tired  did that to me. When  I was tired or sick, my “patience”  fuse  was very short and I acted before thinking. When I was rested, I used more common sense when the girls needed correcting.

Best times: When colic became history.  When I folded the last “birdseye” and “gauze” diapers. The girls' “first” everything: smiling/ laughing/crawling/ saying “ma ma” before they said “da da.”When  the girls started sleeping through the night. Peeking into their room after they fell asleep. Seeing our babies first thing each mornings and looking at their smiles.  When there were needed breaks between each tooth's  painful eruption.  When I coaxed the girls to crawl and walk to me and a little later when  they let go of my hand and walked by themselves. When I stopped wiping snotty noses. 


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I stayed so busy being a mom that I turned around one day [not really] and I could tell the girls didn't need me nearly as much as they did when they were smaller.  But that goes with parenting.  In my wildest dreams I could not have imagined how my little daughters were seeing me through their eyes. Years later I found out.

When one of our daughters was in her 20's she wrote me this letter:

“Dear Mother,

Thank you for all the sack lunches you made me.  As I fix my family's lunches and pack them into brown bags that look just like the ones I carried to school, I think of you!  In my early elementary school years, on the last day of school, I always got to take a sack lunch. I got a sandwich, a small bag of potato chips, a candy bar and a bottle of pop, usually grape.  What a treat!  In my later elementary school years I remember sitting with all the other 'brown baggers'. You always put in a little folded napkin, my sandwich was always cut into 2 triangles, you gave me chips, a piece of fruit, and “dessert.” Occasionally I would receive a secret note, “Have a nice day,“ I love you”or good luck on your test.” That made my day. I was so EMBARRASSED, but I loved it. All the little things you did for me will never be forgotten. You did good, Mom! I LOVE YOU.”



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Here's where you and I are different.  You can't look beyond where you are now as a mom because you are so busy giving your kids baths, dressing them, kissing their skinned knees, getting them to brush their teeth, taking care of them when they're are sick,  encouraging them to try new things (as in food), holding them when they are afraid and all those other thousands things that baby books don't tell you about what it takes to be a mom.

Because Julia invited me to be a part of your mom world though this post, I'll wind  up by telling you that it's been a long time since I was a young mom. I am now a seasoned mom and I love it!  I know I was not a perfect mom,  but the love for my girls won out over the mistakes I made. 

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Please remember, especially on the days you're the busiest and nothing seems to be going right, that  in the years ahead your grown kids will let you know, in their own way, that “all the little things" you're doing with/for them now will never be forgotten.

(Having three kids, six grandkids, and two going on three great-grandkids makes for some fun family reunions! It also keeps life very interesting since we all live in six different states.)
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Four generations of girls!
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38 comments:

  1. The. Best. Post. Ever. Totally cried through most of it and I don't even really know why! Loved this perspective. Thanks for sharing with us, MeMaw!

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  2. I agree. So awesome that you have this written down. I wish I had more of these stories from my own mom and one about her mom, but sometimes it's just too late before you realize how nice that would be. I'm so glad that you have this story from MeMaw.

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  3. I completely agree with Kristal... such a wonderful post. I wished I learned more from my nana and grandma about this side of their lives or still had them around to ask! Memaw is a great writer, mother, and mentor - you are so lucky Julia! Loved this post, so glad she shared her story :)

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  4. I have tears too! I know you know, but it's just so amazing and special that you have this many generations to share your family with. I was never fortunate to really meet or get to know my grandmothers because of illnesses, but I hope that we start the tradition and keep it going with my mom, myself, and Zoe. Being able to have this perspective is priceless. MeMaw is one amazing lady! :)

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  5. I don't have kids (honestly, somewhat scared to take the plunge) but I've been lurking on your blog for years. This post was absolutely the best I've read and the honesty, humility, and...fresh?...perspective on being a mom was just great. I loved the comment about not having Google to lure you into the "comparison" game. We all do this, parents or not, and it was a good reminder to step away from it all.
    Thank you!

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  6. Wow!!! Best one of the series!! Loved it and also cried through most of it. Loved the different perspective. And loved looking back and knowing that while it seems so hard now, it is all worth it.

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  7. Love this post...cried all the way through! I'm a first time mom of an 8 month old little boy and absolutely loved reading this. Please give Memaw a hug!

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  8. Beautifully written .. love hearing this perspective. :)

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  9. I know this is crazy. But do you think that your MeMaw could adopt me as her great grandchild? She sounds amazing and I have no grandparents left :( I seriously think it is SO amazing that she is so involved in your life. And the fact that she reads your blog and follows social media??? WOW! I'm impressed, MeMaw!!!

    This post is one of the BEST posts on motherhood I have ever read. Her perspective is something I really needed to hear. Especially today when I'm kind of beating myself up over not being able to be the perfect parent. It is nice to hear that your kids will grow up and appreciate the little things that you did for them. Sometimes I think it seems like we need to make all these grand gestures for our kids. But really, all they want is a peanut butter sandwich and a hug :) Thanks for sharing, MeMaw. I am so impressed that you are a published author and would love to read the books you published in your career! Julia, you MUST feature your MeMaw again some time :)

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  10. Wow you're memaw is an awesome lady! I love reading her perspective of motherhood. Great post!

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  11. What a special lady. Thank you so much Memaw for adding so much depth, compassion, and love to this series. Times may have changed but the love us moms feel for our babies is such a universal bond.

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  12. LOOOOVED this post so so much. I wish Memaw was coming over Memorial Day weekend so I could meet her! This makes me want to ask my grandmas more about their perspectives on motherhood. I also cried and didn't know why - the letter from her daughter was what got me!

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  13. MeMaw: if you're reading these comments, I just wanted to say thank you for your post! I loved hearing your gentle reminders of all of the universal truths among mothers.

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  14. I am crying all over my desk after reading this. I don't know your memaw very well, but I love her. For the wonderful person she so obviously is and for the beautiful family she has helped to create. I feel blessed to know all of you, I really do. I have said it before, but you are blessed beyond measure to have her in your life. I know we shouldn't play the nasty 'comparison game,' but when it comes to grandmas, you take the cake, girl.

    This post made me laugh and just warmed my heart, and I love all of the photos so much. What a fashionable little family! And it's so fascinating to read about how motherhood truly hasn't changed in so many ways - moms have always had to deal with tiredness, frustration and trying to get things done with babies hanging on their legs! Oh yeah, the part about not knowing where the oldest was or what she was doing made me giggle. ;)

    We are very lucky to have such involved husbands nowadays. But of course, there are trade-offs with this modern life - the constant comparison and never feeling like we measure up, the magnitude of choices we have and the pressure that comes along with the decisions we make.

    I think you're onto something here... not sure how many older folks would be willing and able to write guest posts like this, but it is so awesome to get this kind of perspective. I'm sure many of your blogger friends would be willing and able to solicit posts and photos from their own grandmothers or moms!

    Thank you for sharing Memaw - we're excited to see you later this week! Oh and yes, that email that you forwarded me, Julia, from your Memaw after my guest post made my week that week - I will cherish it.



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  15. What a lovely post! MeMaw's thoughts and advice were so kind and comforting!

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  16. Amen! As I'm about to step into the role of Mom (in 9 weeks!), this was such a fresh read and is giving me hope for the hard times which I know are coming. Thank you for sharing and encouraging!

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  17. This is the best post I have ever read. Anywhere. I cried, I laughed and I shouted AMEN! Thank you so much to your Mawmaw for helping us younger moms remember to cherish these times as one day we will all be looking back and saying the same thing.

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  18. Memaw is so cool! Makes me want to ask my grandmothers (Omas!) all of these questions. One of them was telling me last week that when her kids stopped napping she would put the radio on in their rooms for quiet time. I thought that was a great idea and have started doing that for Casey since he only naps half the time.

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  19. Absolutely loved this. Thank you so much for sharing. The perspective I gained is so valuable. More more more posts from MeMaw!!

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  20. This was such a great post from a different perspective...I could have kept reading and reading. Now we see where you got your writing skills! :)

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  21. Wow, Memaw really made me tear up. The letter from one of her daughter's about their sack lunches set me off! Great advice. It's nice to know that mothers from completely different generations (especially before the internet) struggled with a lot of the same things we still struggle with. Also, I'm adopting her terminology from now on - I may feel "pulled" in many directions, but I am not in distress. Thanks for sharing, Memaw!

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  22. Not that I don't love your writing Julia, but can Memaw have her own blog?! I feel like her advice is exactly what I neede to hear. Also, pregnancy hormones have caused me to SOB during the 'wipe their runny noses' portion. You are so lucky to have such a talented and articulate Memaw, thank you for sharing a little bit of her with us!

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  23. I loved every bit of this post, from the photos to the gentle encouragement to the acknowledgement that sometimes the days are just hard, but that it gets better. LOVED it.

    MeMaw is a tough act to follow! ;)

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  24. I loved reading this post and seeing all of the cool photos. It makes me want to interview my own grandmother.

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  25. After several attempts to read this (due to my tears), my heart swelled with appreciation. This post was amazing, and absolutely what I needed after being up all night with my littles. Thank you and MeMaw for sharing and I can't wait to read more. Lovely!!

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  26. After several attempts to read this (due to my tears), my heart swelled with appreciation. This post was amazing, and absolutely what I needed after being up all night with my littles. Thank you and MeMaw for sharing and I can't wait to read more. Lovely!!

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  27. Thank the Lord for Grandmothers like your Memaw! She reminds me so much of my grandmother whom I adore! This was such a breathe of fresh air. I would love to read more from her!

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  28. This was so amazing to read! I loved Memaw's perspective and there are so many times I'm envious of those who lived in simpler times without google or mommy blogs or the silly comparison games. But I love how there are some struggles that are just universal to every mom and every moment in history - breastfeeding, sleeping through the night, clingy kids. Memaw is a wonderful example of how you eventually come through it and in the end get to enjoy your adult children (and their children and their children!). Very cool, J! Loved this.

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  29. Memaw is a genuine treasure! The email containing her feedback and thoughts after my post will remain one of my favorite "reader comments" of all time. I am truly inspired by both her dedication to her children and to, later, fostering her own (obviously incredible) talent as a writer. Her words remind me how similar generations of moms really are even when it feels we are worlds apart. Thank you so much for sharing your perspective, Memaw!

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  30. Thank you all! Memaw IS reading these comments and feels very loved;) She's the best.

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  31. I love this post! I was looking forward to reading it all day...I didn't read it earlier because I didn't want to be rushed. I waited until the end of my day to get cozy and read it. I loved every word of it. You are blessed to have such an awesome and 'with it' grandma. Much love!

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  32. Wow. Amazing. This post is one of the best...if not THE BEST, I have ever read. Many thanks to your Memaw.

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  33. Loved this post so much! My grandmother passed away 6 years ago, but how blessed you are to still have such a remarkable woman in your life:)

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  34. Your Memaw's post just put tears in my eyes! What touching words and encouragement from her and the reminder that no matter how much changes, in a way motherhood will always be the same. How kind of her to share her thoughts, and how neat that she is still such a presence in your life. Thank you for adding her to your series!

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  35. How cool is your grandma!
    Maybe I have seen the Lorax a few too many times lately but that is exactly what I thought while reading this! Julia and Memaw, this is an amazing post! Thank you both for putting the time and effort into providing wonderful insight into how other moms manage their days.

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  36. I loved this post. So many great pieces of advice and it really puts things into perspective. So cool that she wrote this and you added it, great addition to this series!!

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  37. Well, shoot. I wound up with something in my eye by the end of this! Sharing on Facebook. This is such a wonderful, unique perspective and elegantly written.

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  38. I love each of the posts in this series (I'm slowly working my way through them during bottles!) but this is one of my favorites!! I loved Memaw's perspective. Thank you for sharing!!!

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