some things I have learned about being a Mom by Janell

03 May 2011

mom 2011
Please welcome Janell Beals from Portland, Oregon! She is the mother of Isabella & Max, thus the name of her blog, Isabella & Max Rooms, and the founding editor of the e-zine, House of Fifty. I love that she’s been on tv, in magazines, in print and it’s still evident to me where her first love is: her family. We are thrilled that she is kicking off the week for us!
It's interesting to me how there is virtually no training for one of the most important jobs we'll ever do in our life. One day we are pregnant and the next we have this little being in our arms who depend on us for everything. Nothing in ours lives to date could have prepared us for this incredible gift and responsibility. So we stumble through, figuring it out one day at a time.
I'd like to think I've learned a few things over the years, but I also know in the upcoming years they'll present me with new challenges and that I'll be quickly trying to come up with yet another game plan! But for now, this is what I know, for our family.

Humor: Oh goodness, if I didn't have a healthy dose of humor towards the role of being a mother and towards the children that gave me this role, the path would certainly prove to be a rough one. Without humor everything becomes a little harder than perhaps it needs to be.
Disappointment: I've finally gotten okay with the concept that my kids don't need to be sheltered from experiencing disappointment. For the longest time I had a real hard time with this, but then I had a reality check. Not everything is going to go their way in their lives and they need to learn how to deal with that now, not later as a young adult. Can you imagine, expecting in the real world that everything will always turn out perfectly? What a mess!
Humiliation & Tolerance: On more than one occasion I have been the mother who had to stand by patiently while Max (yes, more often with him than Isabella!) literally kicked and screamed on the floor in the middle of a store, while people passed by. There was nothing I could do but wait. Most people understood and I appreciated that. It reminds me to have understanding when I see other parents struggling with very uncooperative children!
Taking Credit: A neighbor with grown boys recently shared this thought about parenting. "Parents tend to take far too much credit for both their children's successes and failures." Yes, we can do our best to nurture and guide them. But at the end of the day, they are there own individuals with free will.
Listen & Ask Questions: When Isabella decides she wants to talk to me, it's time to drop everything and listen. These moments may come less and less frequently, she's a girl growing up quick after all, it's important to foster these times.
One-on-One Time: I try to spend time alone with each child as often as possible. Removing the dynamic that exists between Isabella and Max I am relieved of the role of referee. The two of us can really enjoy each others company, focusing on their interests and the activity we are involved in.
Setting an Example: They learn from everything we say and do. They learn more from the stuff we are not intentionality trying to teach them than the lessons we focus on teaching them.
Away Time: Was it really that long ago that kids were meant to be seen and not heard? Then the pendulum swung in the opposite direction with kids becoming the epicenter of a household. I personally don't believe either is best, somewhere in the middle is where my family is trying to land. With that in mind, spending time with your partner, away from the kids, is a key aspect creating the best environment for the entire family.


  1. Autumnclemons1/8/14, 5:42 PM

    so true janell! i loved this post. being a mother is something that we can never prepare for, but then when we DO become a mother, we wonder how we ever existed without these little people that make us laugh and cry and want to tear our hair out and yet manage to surprise us in the most meaningful and awesome ways.
    PS: will you adopt me?

  2. Janell, I agree that when you are a mom (I am a mom of a 4 1/2 years old boy), you have to be prepared for humiliation and tolerance! My son has quite a few meltdowns when we were at the mall or grocery store, more times than we can count and with kids being kids, us moms just have to bear with the situation and hope for the understanding of passerbys. I also agree when kids talk to you, you listen or else they won't tell you their problems in the future. And 'they learn more stuff we are not intentionally trying to teach them than the lessons we focus on teaching them', I couldn't agree more and I couldn't have said it better myself! Great advice, Janell. Love this post!


  3. Oh my. My children range in age from 26 to 17 and I couldn't agree more. I wish I'd heard and listened to these years ago. (I did hear the "humor" one and should have tried harder.) The one I might add is do not compare your children to each other, even to yourself.

  4. So sweet. That is a gem of wisdom to not make kids the epicenter, but to balance marriage with kids. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Dentonmichele1/16/14, 10:39 PM

    You inspire me. I am also a mother of two. I wake up every day with the intention to do better with each passing day. I love the intention, beauty, creativity and love that comes through in your blogs. It is what we all strive for and you do it with so much grace. Thank you!

  6. Thank you for inviting me to be here today Melissa! I really enjoyed taking a bit of time to stop and reflect on being a mom. Happy Mother's Day to all us Moms and may we be spoiled. (we deserve it!) Janell

  7. ramblingrenovators1/16/14, 10:39 PM

    A great start to the week. Janell is inspiring as a blogger and mother. I have a 2 year old so am learning the lesson about humiliation and tolerance very well!

  8. Simple dwellings1/16/14, 10:39 PM

    Janell did a great post! I loved hearing what she's learned. Happy to find your blog, Melissa! What a great idea for a series. :)

  9. What wonderful advice! I like what Janell had to say about tolerance. Especially when the kids get to be teenagers, parents have to tolerate a lot! Teenagers will push their boundaries, but its up to the parents to make sure the boundaries are in place.

  10. This is the hardest one for me . . .
    the concept that my kids don't need to be sheltered from experiencing disappointment
    I wish I had learned it earlier!

  11. What a great series! I just loved the "setting an example" part. SO true!

  12. Marty@A Stroll Thru Life1/16/14, 10:39 PM

    Beautiful post. I so enjoy her blog and it was so interesting to hear her thoughts about being a mom. Her children reflect her caring and love. Hugs, Marty

  13. Stephanie Murray1/16/14, 10:40 PM

    What a great speech and lovely children. Being a parent is a wonderful thing with so many opportunities to see into the unspoilt minds of children where the answer and solutions to tomorrows problems lie. As a child I never doubted that life would bring me five children at least and as the years sped by my goal got lost although the maternal side of me didn't and I ended up mothering anyone I lived or worked with. Children natural or adopted have not been granted me so any peek into family portraits is always lovely to see. I think that Iwould have made a great mother, a listener with no judgment and an encourager of talent in any form as my mother had been before me. As children we made a game out of anything and my mum always knew when we needed to be listened to and nurtured. There were off days when she would say ' no school for you today' and than bundle me up in blankets on the sofa with hot tomato soup and a new comic to read. Listening to her cook and clean as I lay in my woolly nest was wonderful. I never once did not feel loved or understood and it has helped me build my life. Parenting is a huge responsibility because what your child learns and feels and does is passed on to their children and so forth fashioning multiple generations. Bravo for sharing and nurturing and loving. best wishes Stephanie

  14. Sounds all very wise advice. x

  15. melissa*320 sycamore1/16/14, 10:43 PM

    I agree. Such a classy lady!

  16. I'm nodding my head as I'm reading this post, Janell. That quote from your neighbor about taking far too much credit for our children's successess and failures is right on. Love that! As a mother to a 24 year old and a soon to be 21 year old, I am alway amazed at what they will quote back to me and remember things I don't even remember saying. But I guess if the life lesson got through another way, that's all that matters.

    Kathy @ Creative Home Expressions

  17. Loved hearing what Janell had to say! Her e-zine is amazing.

  18. What a lovely idea for a series!

    We've had Mother's Day in England already and I loved every single minute!!

    This is a great post from Janell - who always manages to combine down-to-earth with glamour! How does she do it?!!


  19. Cottageandvine1/16/14, 10:43 PM

    What a wonderful post and such great insight Janell! I agree especially with your take on "taking credit".

  20. Strictly Simple Style1/16/14, 10:43 PM

    Great advice. I especially like what Janell said about listening. If you listen take time to listen to the everyday things your children tell you they are more likely to open up to you when they have a major problem.

  21. Just when I think I can't love Janell anymore, she go and write a post like this! OMG, as a mother of three, these were some great points that were made. I really need to try some of this in my own life! How cute is that picture of Janell and Isabella? Oh and max with his hair colored! Too cute, I tell you!

    Melissa, I haven't been to your blog in a while. It's nice to be back over here. I remember your paint party being one of the first linky parties I ever linked to!

    I hope you and Janell have a very happy Mother's Day! But seriously, how can you not with such sweet kids!

  22. eclecticrevisited1/16/14, 11:07 PM

    oh are right on...we can't take credit for all our kids successes and failures and we need to let them experience disappointments...and we as parents need to let our kids e who they are meant to be not what we want them to be...which may sometime mean we don't always approve of them...but we love them anyway...
    great post...

  23. What a beautiful guest post! Oh, how I agree about the humiliation and patience. My husband had to carry our screaming 3 year old out of the restaurant on Easter Sunday. :s She came back in just as calm as can be, but it sure was embarrassing. I always try to sympathize with other moms when I see that happening!


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