By Carey Appel Pearlman
Whenever I meet young parents-to-be, I offer my unsolicited advice, the advice I wish some experienced mom had given me before it was too late.
I'd like to share with you five things I wish I’d known as a young mom:
1. Save All Creative Expression
From when your child is a toddler through 5th grade or so, there is a stream of creative expression – art, mugs, bead necklaces – that runs through your home. Pastel art lines the walls on the back staircase. The frame made out of popsicle sticks finds its way into your dressing room. But eventually, you won't know where to stash it, file it or display it because there is just so much of it – and you'll start to lose track of it all.
One day, though, you’ll notice that these little treasures and tokens of affection stop coming. Maybe some last creation will find its way home from summer camp, but then, all comes to a surprising halt. You will curse yourself for throwing away anything. So, keep these little treasures forever, and store them in one place.
2. Write Down Memories and Experiences Every Day
There are a handful of memories that stick in my brain from when my children were young, but there are also so many that have faded. Now, with teens and college-aged children, I find solace in the beautiful memories I do remember.
For example, when my youngest daughter Katie was 9 months old, she had to touch me. When we were in the car, my body had to be close enough for her to touch, or she wailed. I would test it. I would move just out of her reach to see if it was my imagination, and sure enough, she would start again.
I also remember the first day she walked into school by herself. She got out of the car in her determined fashion, and disappeared behind the gates – skinny little legs, brown hair and all. Then I sobbed. The sobbing insured I would remember this, and, I do.
My eldest daughter Erin is now a very outgoing freshman at Northeastern University in Boston. But there was a time when that wasn’t so. I still remember her singing with her back to us, facing the washing machine in the laundry room because she was too embarrassed to sing in front of her family. I guess she thought if she couldn’t see them, they couldn’t see her.
These are the priceless moments. The best thing to do at times like these is have a pad around to jot it down, another thing I never did.
3. Organize and Protect Photos
We were always good about chronicling Halloween costumes and some important events in between. I made photo books over the years, but they have been ransacked for school projects and birthday remembrances. My advice: Label these moments on your hard drive and back them up to CDs chronologically ordered and placed in a safe.
4. Cherish Car Time
I hated being the chauffeur. But I could have shared so many more tender moments with my kids if I hadn’t been on business calls. They are only young for a short period of time; your business will be there hopefully long after they’re in college.
5. Appreciate That They Are Close
As you pass by their rooms with the doors closed to muffle animated iChat conversations, appreciate that they are still in the next room even if they are preoccupied. One day, they won’t be. Now, I hang onto every word thrown my way, just grateful to have a connection with them, even if it comes at 3:00 a.m.
Carey Appel Pearlman is the owner and founder of Salutations Home, a Pasadena-based retail store specializing in unique accessories for the home since 1983. She has a B.A. in Art History from U.C. Berkeley and a decade of buying and management experience with Bloomingdale's, New York, and Carroll & Co., Beverly Hills. She lives in Los Angeles with her younger daughter Katie and boyfriend Tracy.