A modern lifestyle brand redefining motherhood

19 Things I Hope I’ve Taught My Daughter Before Her 18th Birthday

Print Friendly and PDF
In just a few weeks my daughter will turn 18 years old. In the eyes of the world she will officially be an adult, even though she will always be my child. I have had 18 years to raise her and I think I did a pretty good job.

But as the days tick down until she’s all grown up, I’ve started to wonder if I really have instilled the life lessons she needs to be successful. My dear daughter, here are the 18 things I hope I’ve taught you in your 18 years of childhood.

1 | “Please” and “thank you” really are magic words

Barney the Big Purple Dinosaur told you this at age two and it still holds true today. If you ask for something, say please, even if it is something small.

When someone does you a solid, say thank you and mean it. That goes for everyone from your friends to your parents to the waitress that refills your water cup. Everyone wants to feel appreciated.

2 | Opportunity does not knock if it doesn’t have your address

You cannot sit in your room and expect things to come you way. Don’t be afraid to speak up for yourself and go after things you really want. It is hard to put yourself out there and sometimes you will fail, but that’s okay. Your odds of achieving your goals are much better if you go after them.

3 | Don’t double dip

It’s gross and it’s unsanitary and it’s just unnecessary unless you are snacking alone.

4 | Never leave the house without brushing your teeth

Or without washing your face or combing your hair, because if you do, you are 100% guaranteed to run into someone you don’t want to see in your unwashed state. Put a bra on for the same reason, and because you want to keep them in that nice high place on your chest for as long as possible.

FEATURED VIDEO

5 | Use moisturizer and sunscreen every day

When I was 10 years old a friend of my aunt’s told me I needed to start using moisturizer. I had no idea what she was talking about but she said it in such a stern, scary tone that I took my allowance to the drugstore the next day and bought a $2.99 bottle of Oil of Olay. I credit this woman – and spending the last 20 years dousing myself in SPF 40 before I vacate the house – with a fairly wrinkle-free complexion for my age. Today the ozone is way worse than it was when I was a kid, so lather on the sunscreen even when the weather says rain all day.

6 | Written thank you notes never go out of style

I will probably be the last person on earth to still own and use a pen. Hopefully, you will be the second-to-last. Handwritten notes may be so 1900s but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a place for them in the world. If you have to send a text or email or want to call, fine, but a handwritten note is always preferred. The rule is, don’t use a gift until you have thanked the receiver.

7 | Laughter is the best medicine

If you can, laugh every day because it feels good. Hold onto friends who understand your sense of humor and can make you laugh so hard you think you might wet yourself (this will get easier after childbirth and the mild incontinence sets in). Remember, everyone does some stupid, embarrassing things – you need to be able to laugh at yourself.

8 | Chicken soup is a close second

Never underestimate the healing powers a nice warm bowl of chicken noodle soup. It warms you up from the inside out. It has the power to heal a cold and calm a cough. It reminds you of being a kid even when you’re a grown up – especially if you get your mom to make it for you.

9 | If you have something nice to say, say it

The saying goes, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” But the reverse is true, too. Everyone loves a genuine compliment. Too many times we are quick to say the bad stuff but forget to mention the positives. If you think someone has a great smile or is wearing a cool shirt, say so.

10 | Never stop learning

Once you finish attending school, the exams may be over but the learning never is. Never stop adding to your skills, be it work-related or just for fun. Do a lot of reading on topics that interest you. Keep informed on current events. Remember – knowledge is power.

11 | Alone is better than not at all

I know last week when I went to the movies alone you thought that was just so sad. But it wasn’t – it felt good to do something I wanted to do and not let the fact that no one else wanted to go stop me. Took me 40-plus years to learn that lesson, hopefully I have taught it to you in half that time.

12 | Life isn’t fair

As I said in lesson 2, sometimes you don’t get something you want or deserve. Life isn’t fair but it doesn’t mean you can stomp your feet, whine, or malign other people. No need to check your navigation system – in this case, the high road is the right road.

13 | Be present

The way to stop the F in FOMO is to stop checking the “F-ing” phone-o! If you’re hanging out with friends, hang out with them. If you’re at a concert, listen to the music and don’t video record the whole damn thing so you can post it later. If you’re sitting in the kitchen with your mom who is giving you her undivided attention, stop Snapchatting your friends.

14 | Don’t text and drive

Just don’t do it – ever. Put your phone in the glove compartment if you think you will be tempted. I don’t even like you talking on a hands-free device when you drive. And I will add don’t ever, ever drink and drive.

15 | Change can be good

Just because the chicken parmigiana is always good, doesn’t mean there aren’t other delicious items on the menu that you might enjoy. Don’t be afraid to try something new – not just on a menu but in life, too. If you want to change jobs or move to another city, you should. We will be there to support you.

16 | Be you

You are truly amazing! Embrace everything about yourself and know that the world is very lucky to have you in it – especially your family and friends.

17 | Don’t text angry

I know talking on the phone is so over but this is the updated version of the very wise 80s advice: “Don’t drunk dial!” Mad at a friend, colleague, boyfriend, teacher, or boss? Take a few deep breaths and tie your hands behind your back. Do not text, email, post, snap, insta-anything when you are angry. Most things pass but once you put it in writing, it’s forever.

18 | When you’re wrong, apologize

We all make mistakes. If you make one, apologize and make amends. The people who care about you will forgive you. And when someone hurts your feelings and offers a heartfelt apology – accept it. Life is too short for grudges.

19 | Family is forever

We sometimes may be THE most annoying people on the planet and SO uncool, and REALLY not understand, but we will love you unconditionally forever and ever.

Even if the law says you’re all grown up, in my heart you will always be my baby. That doesn’t mean I’m going to throw you in the stroller and give you a binky; it just means that when I look at those gorgeous brown eyes I fall in love again, just like the day they put you in my arms at the hospital. And yes, you can have the keys to the car tonight.

Who said motherhood doesn't come with a manual?

Subscribe to get inspiration and super helpful ideas to rock your #momlife. Motherhood looks amazing on you.

Already a subscriber? Log in here.

By: Justine LoMonaco


From the moment my daughter was born, I felt an innate need to care for her. The more I experienced motherhood, I realized that sometimes this was simple―after all, I was hardwired to respond to her cries and quickly came to know her better than anyone else ever could―but sometimes it came with mountains of self-doubt.

This was especially true when it came to feeding. Originally, I told myself we would breastfeed―exclusively. I had built up the idea in my mind that this was the correct way of feeding my child, and that anything else was somehow cheating. Plus, I love the connection it brought us, and so many of my favorite early memories are just my baby and me (at all hours of night), as close as two people can be as I fed her from my breast.

Over time, though, something started to shift. I realized I felt trapped by my daughter's feeding schedule. I felt isolated in the fact that she needed me―only me―and that I couldn't ask for help with this monumental task even if I truly needed it. While I was still so grateful that I was able to breastfeed without much difficulty, a growing part of me began fantasizing about the freedom and shared burden that would come if we bottle fed, even just on occasion.

I was unsure what to expect the first time we tried a bottle. I worried it would upset her stomach or cause uncomfortable gas. I worried she would reject the bottle entirely, meaning the freedom I hoped for would remain out of reach. But in just a few seconds, those worries disappeared as I watched her happily feed from the bottle.

What I really didn't expect? The guilt that came as I watched her do so. Was I robbing her of that original connection we'd had with breastfeeding? Was I setting her up for confusion if and when we did go back to nursing? Was I failing at something without even realizing it?

In discussing with my friends, I've learned this guilt is an all too common thing. But I've also learned there are so many reasons why it's time to let it go.

1) I'm letting go of guilt because...I shouldn't feel guilty about sharing the connection with my baby. It's true that now I'm no longer the only one who can feed and comfort her any time of day or night. But what that really means is that now the door is open for other people who love her (my partner, grandparents, older siblings) to take part in this incredible gift. The first time I watched my husband's eyes light up as he fed our baby, I knew that I had made the right choice.

2) I'm letting go of guilt because...the right bottle will prevent any discomfort. It took us a bit of trial and error to find the right bottle that worked for my baby, but once we did, we rarely dealt with gas or discomfort―and the convenience of being able to pack along a meal for my child meant she never had to wait to eat when she was hungry. Dr. Brown's became my partner in this process, offering a wide variety of bottles and nipples designed to mimic the flow of my own milk and reduce colic and excess spitting up. When we found the right one, it changed everything.

3) I'm letting go of guilt because...I've found my joy in motherhood again. That trapped feeling that had started to overwhelm me? It's completely gone. By removing the pressure on myself to feed my baby a certain way, I realized that it was possible to keep her nourished and healthy―while also letting myself thrive.

So now, sometimes we use the bottle. Sometimes we don't. But no matter how I keep my baby fed, I know we've found the right way―guilt free.


This article is sponsored by Dr. Browns. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.


You might also like:

Learn + Play

If there's one item that people claim is *so* worth the price-tag, it's a Dyson vacuum. The cordless tools have become essentials in homes, cleaning up messes quickly, all without the hassle of a cord.

If you've avoided purchasing one because of the high cost, you're in luck! They're having a sale on Amazon right now. Some of the most popular vacuums and air purifiers are up to 40% off.

Dyson Cyclone V10 Lightweight Cordless Stick Vacuum Cleaner, $379.99

dyson vacuum on sale

Arguably the most popular of the Dyson family, and marked down 20%.

BUY

Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

You might also like:

Shop

Beyoncé's new Netflix documentary Homecoming hit the streaming service today and gives us an honest look at how difficult her twin pregnancy was.

"My body went through more than I knew it could," she says in the film, revealing that her pregnancy with Sir and Rumi was a shock right from the beginning, and the surprises kept coming.

In the film she reveals that her second pregnancy was unexpected, "And it ended up being twins which was even more of a surprise," she explains.

Homecoming: A Film By Beyoncé | Official Trailer | Netflix

The pregnancy was rough. Beyoncé developed preeclampsia, a condition that impacts about 5 to 8% of pregnancies and results in high blood pressure and the presence of protein in the mother's urine. Preeclampsia poses risks to both the mother and the baby. People who are pregnant with multiples, like Beyoncé was, are more at risk to develop preeclampsia, and the only real cure for the condition is to give birth, which proved to be another medical challenge for Beyoncé.

"In the womb, one of my babies' hearts paused a few times so I had to get an emergency C-section," she shares in the film.

Thankfully, Beyoncé made it through her extremely difficult pregnancy, but the physical challenges didn't end there. The road to rehabilitation for the performer was difficult because, as she explains, she was trying to learn new choreography while her body was repairing cut muscles and her mind just wanted to be home with her children.

FEATURED VIDEO

"There were days that I thought I'd never be the same. I'd never be the same physically, my strength and endurance would never be the same," Beyoncé recalls.

We know that becoming a mother changes us in so many ways, and in Homecoming, Beyoncé shows the world the strength that mothers possess, and rejects any ideas about "bouncing back."

Becoming a mother is hard, but it is so worth it, and Beyoncé isn't looking backward—she's looking at a mother in the mirror and loving who and what she sees. "I just feel like I'm just a new woman in a new chapter of my life and I'm not even trying to be who I was," Beyoncé said in the documentary. "It's so beautiful that children do that to you."

You might also like:

News

Warmer weather is finally here, mama—and that means it's time to switch up the family's wardrobes. 🙌 If you love matching with your little, or are determined to *finally* get those family photos made this spring or summer, we're obsessed with these mommy and me matching sets.

Here are some of our favorite mommy and me matching outfits for spring. 😍

1. Ivy City Co Jumpsuits, $42.00-$62.00

mommy and me matching jumpsuits

This linen set is perfect for transitioning from hanging out at home to dressing up for days out. Plus, plenty of space for growth!

BUY

2. Madewell x crewcuts Denim Set, $55.00 and up

mommy and me matching denim set

We're obsessed with the '90s vibes these sets give. Now to decide which to choose—denim jacket, shorts, or dress?

BUY

3. Old Navy Floral Midi Dresses, $10.00-$22.50

Old navy mommy and me matching dresses

Nothing says spring quite like florals. The whimsical prints are dainty and the rayon fabric is breathable for those warmer days. Shop mama's version here.

BUY

4. PatPat Matching Family Swimwear, $19.99 and up

matching family swimwear

Match with the entire family with this pinstripe set. We love the one shoulder look, too!

BUY

5. Keds x Rifle Paper Co Sneakers, $44.95-$79.95

mommy and me matching shoes

Twin with your little in these embroidered canvas sneakers. Bonus points for a rubber outsole so no slipping. 👏Shop the version for mama here.

BUY

6. Lily Pulitzer Shift Dresses, $58.00-$198.00

Lilly pulitzer matching dresses

Still not sure what to wear for Easter or that summer soirée? Pick up these matching shift dresses for the most beautiful family photos. Shop mama's version here.

BUY

7. Maisonette x marysia Swimwear, $57.00 and up

Mommy and me matching swimwear

These are definitely splurge-worthy, but we can't get over how adorable they pair together.

BUY

8. PatPat Gingham Dresses, $17.99-23.99

mommy and me matching gingham dresses

These will be your go-to pick for every outing this spring and summer.

BUY

9. Old Navy Striped Oxford Shirts, $13.00-$22.00

matching striped oxford shirts

A relaxed oxford is a staple in everyone's closet. It's versatile enough to dress up or pair with denim for a more laid back look. Shop mama's version here.

BUY

10. Pink Chicken Garden Dress, $72.00-$198.00

pink chicken matching garden dress

Whether you have a spring wedding to attend or want something flowy to wear for vacation, we adore these garden dresses. Bonus points for working for maternity wear, too.

BUY

Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

You might also like:

Shop

Being a perfectionist has naturally been part of who I was since as long as I can remember. I could blame living in the continental U.S., where perfectionism is highly esteemed, or the family dynamics that come with growing up in a household of five women.

Deep down, though, I think it all really stems from a deep and instinctual longing to be loved, accepted and approved. Whatever the reason, it has never really been a part of me that I considered a problem.

That is, until, I became a mom.

When I had my first child, I did the best I could to keep it all together, to prevent people from seeing how my perfection was being pulled apart at the seams.

A nap schedule was, of course, essential. My son was easygoing and slept through the night like an angel baby. My house was still spotless and I managed to somehow work part-time and keep healthy meals on the table every night, but I did struggle tremendously with breastfeeding.

Since I took this failure as a great assault at my abilities to properly nurture my child, I let mom guilt run rampant over the issue. I decided I would just step up my perfect-parenting game in another way by pumping breastmilk around the clock until my son was around 18 months old.

FEATURED VIDEO

For anyone who has ever exclusively pumped, you know it can become total madness and take away the joy of feeding your child.

Managing a toddler was definitely wild, but with my background in pediatrics, I knew how to keep him busy while I kept things "under control." In other words, with just one child, I could still play the part of being perfect. All was fine until I became a mom of two children. It wasn't long after my daughter was born that I realized I needed to start letting go of perfection.

I was living alone in a new city with no help and my husband worked long hours. Managing a 2-year-old and a newborn, all while trying to keep a perfectly clean house and healthy dinners on the table every night, was, to my surprise, impossible in every way. My body was a wreck, not "bouncing back" as it did with my first. My daughter never slept for more than three hours until she was over a year old. She cried for hours on end most nights, as I tried relentlessly to calm her.

I remember bouncing her in her carrier for hours trying to get her to calm down and settle in for sleep. Meanwhile, I was a zombie and my son tore every square inch of the house into pieces. Keeping a naptime schedule was nearly impossible with another child to consider. Dinner was often takeout. There were days when I didn't look in the mirror or have proper clothing on until 5 pm.

The demands of motherhood laughed at my idea of picture-perfect motherhood. Every night I went to bed feeling like I had failed my children. I cried. Oh man, did I cry.

It wasn't long until I came to the realization that if I wanted to be a good mom, that is, to focus on things that are actually important, I had to stop sweating all the small stuff.

Even though I didn't really know how I was relieved that I didn't have to keep up with myself anymore. I had grown so weary of the high standards I had set for myself and those around me. I wanted a way out of the perfectionist trap and to loosen the reigns.

I realized that the most beautiful encounters with my children had been when I decided to say, "Oh, don't worry about it!" (i.e. the house, dinner, naptime schedules, etc). Love and joyful encounters with my children was incomparable to the latter. I knew my children needed me to look at them and not the 3-day- old stain on the dining room floor. The beauty in the moments, when I intentionally chose stillness and gratitude over productivity, was the reason I decided it was time to lay down a life-long pattern of perfectionism and control.

The problem was, I didn't really know where to start. I had been living this way for more than three decades. But I did know that I needed to start somewhere. So I started practicing being imperfect. Just like I had been teaching my 4-year old son. "The only way to get better at something is by practicing," I would tell him.

So, I did. And so I still am, practicing being imperfect.

You might also like:

Life
Motherly provides information of a general nature and is designed for educational purposes only. This site does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.Your use of the site indicates your agreement to be bound by our  Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. Information on our advertising guidelines can be found here.