Every now and then she will sleep on the couch. She’s my only child that has ever been able to sleep soundly among the noise and light. She got a case of swimmer’s ear over the weekend and it has taken her down. She has only want to be held, carried, snuggled, and next to me when she sleeps. When she isn’t feeling well, she wants to be in my arms. When she is feeling well, she wants to be close by me. Very rarely will you find her in one room and me in the other – probably part of why I have so many everyday moment pictures of her. She is typically in all my everyday moments. She’s my talkative companion that longs to do whatever I am doing. If I wear braids, she wants braids. If I wear a necklace, she wears two. When she isn’t by my side, singing or talking, I feel a little lost.

Her little sister has followed suit…copying and mimicking all I do. Always near to my side.

Sometimes raising daughters feels a little scary to me. These incredible little girls that think I am amazing have my heart just like the boys do. Sure, they know I make mistakes. I ask for their forgiveness all the time. But at the end of the day (and the beginning and middle), right now I am the person they look up to in a special way. They adore their daddy, but I have a very different role in their lives. They mimic me. They follow me. They always want to help me..cook, clean, paint, work.

This season with my girls melts me. It also makes me constantly think about how to foster my relationship with them as they grow. As they spread their wings. As they become women. I have a wonderful relationship with my mom. And I am always so curious when I see other mother/daughter relationships that are strong. So today I was wondering if any of you would share the ways your mom helped foster a strong relationship with you as you got older. What are practical steps she took? What are things you appreciated as a teenager? As a young adult?

I want to tuck your stories, advice, insight away to remember as I raise my two wild and wonderful girls!

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  • Amy @ Paint Wine Repeat - What a beautiful post. My mom and I had our differences when I was around 13 (I think most mother/daughter relationships do!), but since we (more like I!) grew out of that phase, we have been extremely close. I would say that she fostered our relationship by listening to me and guiding me in subtle ways. Always asking details of where I was going and getting addresses/phone #s, listening to the stories of the parties and get-togethers when I came home. I wish I knew more about how she accomplished it, but all I can say is that I always felt loved and cared for.

  • sarah - in high school, she left random encouraging letters for me, for no reason. in college, she still wrote and sent care packages even though I was only 30 minutes away. She didn’t let anything I said out of immaturity stop her from pursuing a relationship with me (and in those days, it WAS a pursuit)!

  • MJ - My mom suffers from a mental illness that has always made our relationship tough. She didn’t want me to hug or touch her when I was growing up, which was so hard. She made all the friendships around her difficult and I have issues with female friendships to this day because of this.

    I am always so envious of friends that have strong relationships with their moms. I have vowed that with my daughter, I will be the mom I didn’t get. I have examples around me and the Lord to guide me, so I have no worries.

  • Melinda D. - My mom and I are not particularly close. We don’t have a bad relationship, per se, but even though we only live 10 minutes apart, I can go for a month and not have any contact with her. I can tell you one thing NOT to do with your girls- never act to busy to listen. I grew up in a large family (there were 5 of us kids) and I was the oldest. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVED my childhood. We lived on a farm, so there was always something going on. But, because there was always a baby or toddler to take care of, my mom didn’t act like she had time for me. She pushed me outside to my dad more often than not, so I became my dad’s right hand man on the farm. When I got married, all I wanted was a passel of boys because I had no idea how to raise girls! I now have 2 girls of my own (and 1 boy) and I try to delight in them. They too love to hang out with me and I enjoy it! I am determined to always let them know that I am never too busy to have them around. That’s my advice.

  • Jacqueline - I think the most important thing is to take the time when they are young to really get to know them as the people that they are deep down inside. As they get older, they will look to you when they are not quite sure who they are, and you can give them confidence just by being their touchstone. My girls are 13 and 18, and I find even as they need me less, they still like to touch base with me, and I still do the same with my mother. Someone once told me that your mom is your anchor, and without her you drift any which way.

  • Kirra Sue - Oh I’m excited to read these!

  • Lindsey - I’m not sure if I can pinpoint the exact reason that my mom is my best friend… maybe because she has always, consistantly, been in my corner and listened to my reasons. When I was young and in trouble, she would want me to explain my motives, not as punishment, but looking back I think she truly wanted to understand me. Now as an adult, she still asks me to explain things in my life, and for the same reasons I suppose.

    I met my husband at 19, and he joined the Army shortly thereafter. He proposed when we were only 20. Now that I am a mother, I understand why my mom was so worried, and concerned about our decision to marry so young. She supported me, and talked to me, and helped me plan the wedding, but was weary of this decision. Then as the Army took us to several states, and took my husband to Iraq for 2 year long deployments, my mom made it a point to travel and see me every couple of months. She always said she just needed to see my face with her own eyes. My whole life she has been that constant support… that voice of reason… that best friend that understands… her love and interest in my life has been consistant and unwavering.

    Now as a mother of a 2, I realize that her actions were not thought out, but instinctual. I genuinely want to understand and support my children in every way possible, and find myself asking questions my mom once asked me.

  • Deborah Weiner - I am mom to three girls and one boy. Our son is our oldest and he is leaving for college this weekend. His little sisters are going to miss him fiercely but thankfully he’ll only be 30 minutes from home. The girls are 5, 9 and 11 and I struggle every day with raising them. I feel like I fail them daily. I want to always be close to them and I want them to always feel they can talk to me and come to me with anything, but I am not always sure how to do that. Their brother has always been laid back while the girls are all drama, all the time. I don’t handle drama well. I don’t remember my mom doing anything in particular with me growing up that has stood out over the years but I know I always have been closer to her than to my father. I think her ability to just let me talk helped. I found your blog about a month before you adopted Little One and I’ve wanted to tell you how much I enjoy reading your posts and seeing your photos. Thank you for sharing your world!

  • Roxana - MJ, I’m so sorry to hear about your relationship with your mother. I hope you are knowing the Lord’s healing.

    My mother has always been very loving and affectionate. In fact, I think she struggles with letting her children be adults! That said, she has always talked to us and treated us like “adults.” She (and my dad) created a very open dialogue in our home growing up. They shared a lot with us (good and bad), which invited us to do the same. We could talk about anything. I think this openness also helped to make us feel the freedom to be ourselves. We never felt pressure to conform. I’m very thankful for this.

  • vada wetzel - She was a force…I was her youngest of five…Never for a moment did I doubt she would support me in anything I chose to pursue. I am now a 69 year old grandmother and have tried to follow her example.I have given advice when asked but otherwise have left them free to BE.It is more difficult than it sounds.

  • Kimberly @ Turning It Home - I always wanted to be around my mother, but in high school we butted heads a lot and drifted apart. Immediately after high school (I was pregnant and married) our relationship was growing closer again. Even though things didn’t happen how she imagined they would (I never went to college and had children at a young age), I think she let go of those expectation and allowed me to take my own path without fighting it, since what had happened had already happened (getting pregnant), and there was nothing to do to change it once she knew I was keeping my baby and wouldn’t be giving her up for adoption. Whoa, run-on sentence galore! Now we are closer than we have ever been, even though she lives in a different state. When my children are older I hope to be gentle and patient (I need that now, too!), not in anger, so that they feel safe confiding in me.

  • Amanda C. - My mom has always listened, and always valued my opinion. She has always encouraged me, and let me make my own decisions. She let me be independent, and let me learn who I was. Most importantly, she has always told me that she would love me no matter what–and has proven that over and over again. She is a great mom–I’m so thankful to have her! Just as I’m sure your girls are thankful for you!

  • Erin - My mom would always listen to me. And we would share so many laughs….I’ll never forget her laugh! Also, our strong foundation with God is the underlying strength in all we do. I think it always helped in our relationship too. I always new she loved me no matter what. I lost her about 2 years ago. This makes me smile to write this to you. I have a 3 year old little girl and I love seeing your stories with your girlies!

  • Kathleen - My mom always reminded me that I had everything I needed, right within myself. That I could call her, ask for advice or a shoulder to cry on or an ear to pour all of my woes into… but that afterwards, I could pick myself up and do everything I needed to.

    I called her once when I was 18, traveling in New Zealand (I’m from Vermont), alone. It was getting dark and I couldn’t find a hostel with room. It sounds terrible, but she started laughing. She said, “I would love to come scoop you up, but I’m about 36 hours of travel away. But you can figure this one out! What are your ideas?” She listened as I talked it through, then I called a friend who called a local friend who put me up. I love that it was my mom who I called… and I love that she pushed me to fix it for myself.

    Now I have my own little one, and she listens to me talk through breastfeeding, diapering, napping conundrums. She offers thoughts and reflections, but always says “What feels right to you?” And it makes me so much more confident in my decisions.

    I say all of this, but from the looks of things, you’re already doing this!

  • Celia - Growing up I was SO CLOSE to my mother. As she says, I was a “Mommie’s girl” and wanted to be right by her and “under her skirts”. I can still remember hating to go to school and wishing I could just be home with her during the day. As I grew older… into a older child, young teen, teenager and then young adult… my mother would say, “I don’t need to be your friend right now, I need to be your parent”. She and I had a blast together, but at that age, I knew she was my parent first. I knew she loved me dearly and it showed in her discipline and the way she was very involved in my life. She always made the rules very clear, but let me know that nothing was too big that I couldn’t come to her, that no matter what, she would be there. When I was 19 years old, my mother was diagnosed with leukemia. I remember being petrified. I was so afraid my mother wouldn’t be here one day… to see me get married, have children…. who on earth would answer all my questions and let me cry on their shoulder about absolutely anything? Long story short, the Lord blessed us and healed her quickly and she is still with us today, extremely healthy. I think my mother and I are not quite as close today… I have a husband and two small children… but I think we’re not quite as close because my daily focus is on my husband and children now. My mother and I still talk often (we live close by), my children see her weekly and spend the night with her every Friday. I think this is a natural course of life. I really think what bonded us was a loving mother, who taught me salvation was the most important thing while we were on this earth, loved me unconditionally, left an open door policy, taught me to learn from her mistakes, laughed and cried with me (I would sleep in her bed and cry for hours after silly break-ups)…. etc, etc, etc. I guess I could go on and on. The Lord will lead you. And I pray the Lord will lead me now that I have a daughter of my own (16 months old).

  • Amanda - My mother is something amazing. She’s my best friend. I think that through the years she has always been open and honest with me. Our communication and trust goes both ways. She confides in me while I confide in her. Also she has always been the mom who says, and truly means things like “if you are drinking with friends don’t drive, call me, I won’t say anything about it, I just want you to be safe.” I never did drink when I was younger but the fact that my would do that has always been important to me. Maybe that’s why I never did anything. She had trust in me that I never wanted or want to break.

  • Taylor - My mom and I are best friends and always have been! Even when I was in high school and had a million friends and a boyfriend and at college, I’ve never lied to her and I tell her everything. We have talked about it and how we are so different from other families and I think this is a big part of it… When we were pretty young my mom started talking with us about EVERYTHING! So it was always natural for me to tell her thing and feel comfortable. I would tell her when girls in high school were smoking or drinking. She never freaked out or tattled. She would just ask what did u think about it? And we would discuss with my little sister too. Sex, periods… Nothing was off limits haha! It was never awkward and that how I was about to be so close to her! My kids are 3 and 4 and they already ask me about girl stuff and I just tell them the truth, if its normal talk for us then it will always be normal!

  • Sarah - I am a new mom to a three month old little girl – I have thought about this, too. My mom has been a witness if selflessness, love and committment my whole life. I came to appreciate her for these qaulities in my early adulthood. When I went to college she would send a care package with special little things she knew I liked – nothing grand, just personal. She still asks me (and my sisters) what cookies we want her to make during Chrsitmas. She baked with us – patiently. Your girls will remember all the little things you do during their childhhod – the everyday things you do to in acts of love.

  • kelli - My mama and I are very close. She was a single mom since I was 11, and I have two younger sisters, so she was very busy, but never too busy for us. I think part of our closeness is that she was all we had. She was trustworthy. She always told us the truth. She was there for us and listened well. She apologized when she was wrong. She was always supportive of us, and accepted us as we were. She taught us the value of knowing God’s word and what it says, rather than just what our “gut” tells us is right. She taught us this by living her life that way. She wasn’t afraid to tell us when we were wrong about something, and would help us understand why we were wrong and how to figure out the best way to get back on track. She was loving, kind, and friendly, but we also always understood the expectations she had for us, and that she was the parent in the relationship. She didn’t try to be our “friend”, but when our relationship began to change from parent/child to friendship (sometime in college), it was a natural thing. it was a million little things, through years and years of days and moments together. When I ask her things like this, she just tells me she leaned on the Lord a lot. ;)

  • Pam - I was the daughter who stayed by my mother’s side. If she got up to walk to the kitchen I got up too. If we had to spend the night at my grandparents I wanted to be with her. Through all of this my mom never pushed me away. She was very patient with me and I know because of that I truly can enjoy my children today. I have since apologized for being so clingy especially since it was four of us and as a parent I now understand the need for quiet, alone time.

  • Monica - Hi Ashley, When I saw the name of the post just make me sad :(. I have two little girls, one is 4 (the same birthday as your daughter :) and the other one is only One. Every time that I think that they will not be little girls one day just make sad and scared. Scared because I want to have a strong relation with them and I am not sure if am doing good to accomplish that. I want to be a good mom for them. The one that they can trust and they can come to talk to me for everything. My life is so busy, (work, house, husband, little girls) I always try to have time for them. But sometimes seems that I do things wrong. When I go to bed I think what things I did wrong. My oldest gets mad so easy when I say “No” to things that she want to do, but I explain to her why is No but she never understand, or she just want to do what she wants and has been so hard to find the way that she understand. So every day I try to improve that. With your blog you inspire me to be a better mom and I know there is a lot of things that I try to improve to be a better mom, better wife and have time for myself so I can be better ME. But I think and what I can see you are being a great mom, your relation with your girls seems pretty strong. So keep doing what you are doing a WONDERFUL WOMAN!

  • Erin - My mom is my friend now because she was my mom then. She never tried to be ‘my friend,’ and I think I thrived on that healthy boundary. At the right time, as an adult myself, we have reconnected in a way that I can say she’s both mom and friend.

    I emulated her like your girls do with you. I think my inner make-up is much more like my father (also an awesome guy), but my habits and routines come from her…I used to be more annoyed by that but now find it endearing. And she was worth emulating. As a teenager I still remember waking up to finding her sitting with her coffee, journal, and Bible in the mornings. That was quiet and powerful modeling.

    She and Dad didn’t have lots of money, but she knew when to say yes, and when to say no. Before a middle school youth sleepover, she chaperoned, and therefore went out to buy new frames for her glasses so she wouldn’t embarrass us. But when it came to fads and whims we wanted that came and went, she knew enough to say no.

    Most of all, she’s been my cheerleader. I can identify with Firecracker’s outgoing expressiveness. My mom is much more reserved and introverted. But she still lets me see in her quiet way, that she believes in me and is cheering me on!

  • Jennifer@Godstellations.com - I do not have a good relationship with my mom at the moment. My childhood is filled with good and bad memories of time with her. I have given our relationship over to God and have peace with the way things are right now as He is guiding me. I am thankful for the good and bad memories I have as they are what is making me a better mother today. One thing I always try to do with my children is support them and their interests. I see you do that so very well with all of your children. While I am here to guide their path and encourage them down it, I am not here to choose it for them. I think you do a wonderful job of providing a solid foundation of family, faith and love while being supportive to their dreams and the desires of their heart.

  • Tina - Thank you Ashley Ann for always sharing your thoughts and your world with us! I don’t have any advice on what my mom did for me as, like some of the others posting here, mine had a mental illness that precluded her from having good relationships but I know she tried her best. I’m trying to be a different mom to my girls (18 and 23) but not having a role model makes it difficult. I appreciated reading what everyone else had to say here…a common theme seems to be mothers who are close to their daughters listen more than they advise and make sure just to ‘be there.’ I will continue to do that! One thing I can say though…is enjoy EVERY day with your littles as those days go by SO fast! Today I am taking our youngest to college. It feels harder this morning to do this than when she started kindergarten–because with kinder, I knew she was coming back home in a few short hours and her home would always be a safe place. Mostly I am amazed at how all of these years have gone by so quickly with us as a family all together, at home! And now my girls are off to make lives of their own. I miss them!

  • Susan - This is such a touching post. I see you are feeling the awesome responsibility of raising your daughters. (And I know it is the same with your sons.)
    For my mother and I, it was a bit easier than it is with some. I was the only daughter; she also had six sons. So the bond was there from the beginning,very strong and sometimes to be honest overwhelming. For us, sometimes it was “the girls against the boys”, sometimes it was shopping for girl stuff, but day to day it was the love for reading that instilled a great relationship. We always had a book, or a story, or a magazine to share. And praise God, I am still able to do this with her. She is now 80 and we are still very close.
    With my own girls, it has been a bit harder. I have three very different girls. One is extremely private and independent. One is very cavalier in every thing she does. And my stepdaughter fought me at every turn, it seemed. But I find that it is she who imitates me the most.
    Thank God for little girls!

  • Kenyon - I was my mother’s third daughter and fifth child. What kept us close through my adolescence and college years was simply this: whenever I came into whichever room she was reading, cleaning, or listening to book on tape, or on her computer, with a story that I just had to share, she set aside all her distractions and focused on my retelling of the newest movie or book I had just finished. Often those conversations would evolve deeper. Catherine M. Wallace said, “If you don’t listen eagerly to the little stuff when they are little, they won’t tell you the big stuff when they are big, because to them all of it has always been big stuff.” That is the very best advice I could give. As a college student I still call my mom a few times a week and tell her my latest stories because I know without a doubt that she is 100% interested in hearing what I have to say.

  • Jillian - I love seeing strong mother/daughter relationships! My mom and I have always been close. I’ve always known I could talk to her about anything and she wouldn’t judge me. Even when I told her things I know she wasn’t proud of, she would always talk me through them and support me. I’ve never felt like I had to hide anything from her, which is something I know most girls couldn’t say during their teen years. (Don’t get me wrong, my parents were always really strict, but there was a respect and understanding I got from my mom.)
    I also love that I never have to be embarrassed around my mom- she never laughs AT me, just with me.

  • Rachel - My mom (and dad!) raised me to be very independent and for that, I am grateful. I have two younger sisters & no brothers, and I feel we are all very independant and capable of ‘holding our own’. Of course, we still rely on loved ones & parents for support, but I am so glad my mom taught me how to be my own person.

    I have no children, but I can’t imagine that it was easy for my mom to be a ‘mom’ and a ‘friend’, veruses just one or the other. There were times when I definitely felt that she was more mom than friend, but she has always be available for me to vent to, ask advice of, and just be there for a hug. My parents made it very clear that no matter what I did, I should always feel that I can come to them and ask for help or support.

    I can tell by your pictures and beautiful writing that your girls (and sons!) love and adore you and it seems that you are very capable of raising amazing daughters (and sons!)!!

    - Rachel (long time reader, first time commenter)

  • Jenny L. - You are already doing what you need to foster a strong relationship with your daughters and your boys – and doing it much better that most I might add. In my opinion, it is all about time spent with them. There is no substitute for time given. I hear parents talk about quality over quantity time. No such thing. They need as much time as they can get with their parents. We sacrificed a lot for me to be able to stay home with our children and the payoff was our children becoming really great adults. I know that some people can’t stay home with the kids even if they want to but there is always weekends and evenings to try and stay fully engaged with them. I am not saying that I am an expert but it worked for us. I can’t think of a better example for a young child than you. Keep up the good work because they grow up in the blink of an eye.

  • Kristin - My mom was an amazing woman, and my best friend as long as I can remember. I think one of the biggest things she did that let us grow so close was spending so much time with us. I was homeschooled for a number of years while we were living overseas, and even though a lot of it was working on my own while she was busy with my three younger siblings, she was always very involved in my schooling. Even more, though, she made it a priority to spend one-on-one time with all of us. We would go on regular “dates,” usually just to get a burger and sit and talk about whatever was on our hearts and minds. She looked for opportunities to do things with me, from asking me to come running/walking with her early in the morning before Dad left for work to finding a new book series to read together. We both had so many of the same interests, and she loved to pursue them with me – reading, crafting, theater, writing, sign language – I never felt pressured into doing something just because she loved it, but I always loved being involved in something with her. When I was in high school and competing in speech tournaments, she volunteered as a parent judge and came along as chaperone so we could have that time together. I loved it! I always felt like she really enjoyed spending time with me, and LIKED me as a person, and a woman. I treasure that. She passed away almost four years ago after a five year battle with ovarian cancer; three weeks later I became a mother myself when my first son was born. I miss her every day, and I pray someday God gives me a daughter I can try and love the same way she loved me.

  • the inadvertent farmer - As a teen my mom accepted me for me. I am more artsy, messy, and opinionated than my mom. She is neat, methodical, and quiet. She never tried to change me (just polish the rough edges) in fact she still tells how much she admires my personality (although not my messiness!) and how it reminds her of my dad…which in my book is huge compliment considering how much she loved my dad!

    As a young mother, my mother never judged me. We have very different parenting styles (due to very different personalities) and although I did so many things differently than she did there was never a word of criticism. Yet she was always there when I needed advice or a shoulder to cry on when my all boy brood was driving me crazy!

    Now she is older and living with us. She still never criticizes my messy house although her apartment is immaculate. She never gives me grief over my dozens of unfinished projects and will dive in help finish them if I ask. She and I pick berries together and watch HGTV together…we are now great friends.

    I guess what I’m saying is embrace each girl that God have given you, accepting their own unique gifts and weaknesses. They will grow to be women that know their mama loves them and accepts them no matter what. Which is one of the greatest gifts my mom gave me. Kim

  • Kaytie - I think about this a lot actually… I always come back to the thought that my mom supported everything I did. No matter what. She never gave advice or her opinion readily and instead simply supported my every endeavor. I think she trusted me, the girl, and later women, that she raised. And so when she does offer advice, even now, I always knew how important it is and how much I should listen.

  • Alice H - Her freckles and her eyelashes…I die!!

    I love my mother with all my heart but I have always been closer to my grandma (her mom) than I have my own mother. It makes me kind of sad to think about that but its just the way it is. I think the reason I am a lot closer to my grandma is because we are a lot alike.

    Anyways, I have a 14 year old daughter (she’s my oldest child) and I struggle with how to keep our relationship a good one. She is quiet and smart and beautiful. We do have an open line of communication, we talk about all kinds of stuff. I never want her to feel like she can’t come talk to me. I want her to be able to count on me for everything. I just love her so very much.

    Every single day I pray that I am molding my 3 children into being compassionate and caring adults. I know I fail often in mothering them but I am so grateful they are mine and that they forgive me when I mess up.

    Thanks for making me cry this morning and I hope that Firecracker’s ears feel better soon.

  • susie - I enjoyed reading everyones posts! When I was younger I never had much thought about my mom, she was just there. When I had my first baby, all the sudden I relized all she had did for me without me giving it a second thought! Today she one of my best friends, and i hope I have the same relationship with my 6 kids. Motherhood is a difficult job, between all the work and emotions.

  • Mary - For years and years I have always said, “when I grow up I want to be like my Mama”. Well I am 53 and so very much of what I do, believe, and how I walk through life is because of what my Mama taught me. My Dad was an alcoholic and so there was a “the unknown” feeling that was heavy in my young childhood. Mama went to Al Anon meetings and taught me truths as she learned to seek God. Although our home wasn’t perfect I always felt loved and there was laughter, music, home cooked meals, crafts, gardening, flowers. I knew I wanted to be that kind of Mom to my 4 kids. We homeschooled and now they are grown, that chapter of my life is over but I daily continue to love my babies the way that my Mama continues to love me. Three daughters and one son. I cannot imagine life without these adults who are really my favorite people. And they all love their Daddy and me and each other!! Blessed

  • Sandy - My mom worked outside the home so our relationship, although very loving and strong, is much different than the relationships I have with my daughters. My youngest is 21 today, my oldest had a birthday 10 days ago and is 24. It seems like just yesterday they were your girls ages. I’m sure there are things that they keep from me but for the most part they tell me everything. I have become more than a mom to them, I would say that I am now their friend too. I will never forget the first time I had to “fight” for one of them. After they began school and the perfect plan that we as moms have for our children wasn’t falling into place and I had to figure out how to take a stand for them. It didn’t take me long with God’s help to figure that role out and to this day they both know that I’ve got their back! They are not perfect and I’m straight up honest with them when they need correction, but they know that if everything and everyone around fails them, mom will be here. I believe the way that I have learned to listen to them has been the biggest contributing factor into our close relationship. I’ve learned to listen in a way that allows them to be open and honest with me and they know that my love is everlasting no matter what they have to share with me. My advice to consider would be to prepare yourself for age 14. We can look back and joke about it now but when each of them was 14, it was no joking matter!!! So thankful that season is over!! The greatest feeling in the world is when my girls want to be near me. I’m sure you are in a season where you have to “pencil in” alone time or you think you may go nuts but I admire how you make the best out of each moment with your girls and boys. Time is ticking way too fast and if I had treasured each moment way back then as you seem to treasure your moments now, I would have enjoyed them even more. Perhaps age 14 would have had some sparkle too!

  • Amanda - I’m SO excited to read the comments on this post – I too have my first baby girl and want to be everything she needs and then some so this will be so humbling for me to read! Good work momma.

  • Marcella - My mom passed away suddenly when I was 22 years old. I was heartbroken and devastated. A couple of days after her funeral, I was going back through a box of notes, cards and letters she had saved and found a letter she wrote to me several years before. I don’t know why she decided to tuck it away at the time instead of sending it to me, but I am so glad she did. She wrote the letter on Easter Weekend when I was 15 years old. In it, she stated that she felt in her heart the need to tell me all the things she would want me to know if she happened to die the next day. The letter then went on to tell me how much she loved being my mother and sharing special memories about me as a little girl. She also shared her hopes and dreams for my life. My mom wrote many letters to me over the years and I treasure them all, but this particular letter is framed and hanging in my house. Anytime I miss my mom, I can go back and remind myself of the love she had for me. Such a treasure.

  • Cate O'Malley - My Mom and I are going through a challenging time right now, so instead, I’ll comment on how I work on fostering my relationship with my own daughter. Madeline is 5-1/2, and about a year ago, I started to notice (or become more aware) of how her and her older (11) brother respond differently. Like the book about different people’s love languages, they each have their own and I think knowing what their love language is and responding in kind makes a huge difference. For my daughter, she is all about physical touch. If I’m sitting down, she has to be on my lap, or sprawled over me, or smooshed next to my side as close as she possibly can be. She thrives on the physical touch. For my son, he needs the positive affirmations that I’m proud of him, that he’s done a good job on something, that I agree with a decision he’s made..

  • Anna - Starting in elementary school, my sister and I switched off days helping mom in the kitchen, particularly with after-dinner clean up. Hand washing (Mom) and hand drying (us girls) the dishes gave us time together, with our hands busy and minds free to share. Even though we didn’t always like the work, the time with mom was special. The tradition carried on into high school and when we were home from college and even now as married women, if we’re home visiting mom and dad and it’s “our day” we always cherish the time with mom at the kitchen sink.

  • julie - What a interesting question. (Love all the photos.)….I lost my very active 81 year-old-mom this year quite suddenly. I’m 52. I miss one of the best friends a daughter could ever ask for, and I also lost a mom in one person. Here are my thoughts… As a child, my mom wasn’t afraid to be a mom. She was kind and nurturing, consistent but not harsh in her discipline, AND she wasn’t afraid of losing me as her “friend” which I think keeps a lot of moms these days from doing the job of mothering the way it needs to be done. In my twenties we went through some bumps, as our differences in temperments made me wonder if she “liked” me as much as I felt she loved me, but we worked that out because I was able to talk about it without her falling apart. She was secure in who she was and wasn’t afraid to hear tough things. In my older adult years I have discovered what made our relationship so close was largely a result of my enormous admiration for her. Her love for the Lord. Her disciplined walk with Him. Her kindness toward others. Her flexibility with change of plans, and putting the desires of others above her own. Her selflessness when someone needed to talk–she was present and attentive and listened well. But her wisdom. Ahh….I miss her wisdom, although we talked so indepth that there isn’t much that comes up that I can’t guess what she would have advised at this stage in life. And that wisdom she had came from a disciplined walk with the Lord and a hunger to learn. She read so much, and I’m not talking novels or self help books. She read books that built that character that I and my 4 siblings gained so much from. Her memorial service was a tribute to a Godly woman of strength and tenderness and wisdom. All 5 of us kids admired and loved her so deeply. Sorry, I know I’ve rambled on and I hope there is something in this that makes sense. Be a woman after God’s heart, and your children will rise up and call you blessed. I say this with tears of gratitude. Have fun with your girls and build memories. But be the mom. The best friendship develops after you’ve raised them right, in my opinion.

  • Lindsey - Ashley, you’re already an amazing mother who delights in the individuality and wildness of your girls and makes them feel loved and beautiful! The fact that you care enough to be thinking about this ahead of time is so great!! I think “love is in the details” — there were lots of little things my Mom did that added up to mean a lot to me and keep our relationship strong. She would include a handwritten note in my lunchbox every day at school – just something to encourage me or let me know she was praying for me. She was always interested in my little stories about my school day, and her advice and input helped me become more confident. She helped me with fun craft projects and making personalized gifts for my friends, and we had a lot of good conversations while scrapbooking together. I believe you will naturally be great at things like this! I also fully agree with Erin’s comment “She is my friend now because she was my Mom then.” I pray that God blesses you and your girls and grows your relationship through every stage of their lives! :)

  • kimberly oyler - i don’t have anything to add, just wanted to say how absolutely beautiful these pictures are.

  • Alix - The theme of these comments seems to be listening and that is honestly the main thing I can pinpoint in my relationship with my mom. Growing up, when I came home from school, she would always ask how my day was and was genuinely interested in everything I had to say (and I would tell her EVERY detail). As I grew older, I kept telling her everything and she would pretty much tell me everything too. I consider my mom to be my best friend. I knew she cared about what was going on in my life and still does. Now that I am expecting my fist child and live a few states away, I still turn to her for advice. I hope that someday I can have that same relationship with my children.

  • Kirsten | Wild Oak Stream - ***Children are great imitators, so give them something great to imitate.***

    As a daughter who doesn’t and didn’t have the greatest relationship with my mom… I can give you my perspective on what I would have loved. I wish my mom had shown physical affection more often, no matter what age I was. I wish she had encouraged. I wish she had shown more grace. I wish she had allowed me in the kitchen to help her cook/bake. I wish she had attended my soccer games, swim meets, etc. I wish she had taken the time to tell me she loved me when I was being a bratty teenager. I wish she had visited me more in college, not just to move me in and out at the end of each school year. I wish she would have thought about how her mothering would shape me and now that I am a mother myself, that she would have the power to influence me. Now as a mother, I am faced with not repeating her negative actions. It is harder to work against that grain and it is only by the grace of God that I am able to learn from her mistakes. I do not want my two daughters to grow up and have to face the same thing when they are my age.

    One thing that I am deeply grateful for is seeing my mom’s relationship with my dad. It was such a blessing that I never realized until now. My dad was affectionate with my mom, he respected her needs, he preferred her, and he was her biggest fan– and he did all those things in front of us. I was able to see how those actions met my mother’s needs and that has helped me in my adult life. I knew what it meant to value a respectful and loving man. I knew that it was important to find those qualities in a husband.

    I am thankful that God can allow us as parents to make mistakes and yet He can take those mistakes and bring healing and renewal through them. I love this post. Thank you!

  • Seamingly Sarah - The two things I remember the most are my mother would always compliment me on how I looked and often said “Has anyone told you they loved you today?” and then told me that she loved me. I felt beautiful and loved growing up.

    I’ve added more touching for my 5 year old because she is so social and on the cusp still of being a kid and yet breaking out to be her own person, so she’s probably feeling unsteady at times and could use more hugs and touches. And for some reason whenever I ask her to marry me, it just melts her heart. =)

    I’ve also added more of God into it too since we believe in Christ as our savior. So I tell the girls that they are beautiful inside and out and that God loves them just the way they are.

    I love your post. I feel that responsibility with my two daughters too. I am what they will be. I need to be the woman I want them to be someday. No better motivation than that to dig deep into God.

  • Joc - I am not a mom, but I have a great mom. I would say it is oh so important to remind them of their inner beauty. Let them know how important they are to you. Tell them they are beautiful. Being confident about yourself around your daughters will help them be confident about themselves. Pushing them to talk to you about how they feel and how they are doing even when they sometimes will act like they are fine or don’t need to talk… that means so much. It is so evident you are a wonderful mom… your girls are lucky little ones to have you by their sides as they grow :)

  • Kellee - I am currently 35. I have a 23 month old girl and a 6 year old girl. I lost my mom in February 2001. She never got to meet my daughters. I know that she is watching over us and all of that but my heart hurts for the relationship that they will miss with their grandmother. I worry that without her support and guidence I will fail my own girls. All I can say Ashley is, just BE there, BE yourself. Live everyday with them in joy, and dont worry about whether you are “doing it” right, cause I can tell you in their eyes you can’t “do it” wrong. I ache for my mother everyday and love reading about your journeys with your children they inspire me, thank you. My mother always told me
    “a son is a son till he meets a wife, a daughter is a daughter for the rest of her life” Relax and Enjoy…

  • Mallory - Great post! I have a 2 year old daughter too and I think about this a lot. I lost my mom last year to breast cancer and I would love to ask her this question. From my point of view I would say most of all, she was there all the time. She was lucky enough to be a SAHM with 4 daughters and she was always with us. She picked us up from school or soccer practice and listened as we talked or cried. I always felt comfortable talking to her because that is just the way it had always been.

    As we got older she went back to school and then back to work but she was still there for us. I don’t think there was ever a night that I went out with friends that she wasn’t waiting up on the couch for us. She was there, just in case we needed to talk…or cry. I don’t know you but through your blog I can tell you will be a mom like this, you will be present in their lives through good and bad, and you will be there for them. I miss talking to her more than anything but I have 30 years of amazing memories that will last me a lifetime. Sorry for the long post – I got a little carried away!

  • Joc - I just found this quote and it reminded me of your post.

    “I will keep telling you that you are important, deserving, loving, intelligent, worthy, compassionate, beautiful, creative, inspiring, brave, true, strong, and able until you finally realize it for yourself.”

  • Breezy - My mom always made sure that she was available to talk. And she always did so open-mindedly, even about the things she didn’t want to hear. She wanted to talk about the good and the bad. In my eyes, this is what set her apart from other mom’s and it is the reason we are so close.

  • Martina - I’m excited to read through all of these comments. I think just being near and being around is so important because it gives you opportunity to know each other well. My parents both were awesome about writing me encouraging, affirming letters and expressing their love and approval of me in person, too. My mom has always been willing to hear about everything going on in my life and even still is always the second person I go to with important news (husband is typically first). We communicate every day by email, text, phone and/or in person. Sometimes all 4 in the same day…just like with my husband. I can still remember coming home from youth group one day all giddy and telling her about this boy I really liked. I remember her putting down whatever she was doing and just listening, getting excited along with me and asking questions about this boy I was so interested in…that boy turned out to be my husband! I’m so glad I could share those moments with my mom.

  • Shelly - My mom is a great listener. She always picks up the phone when I call and makes her talks with me a priority. She also has always been praying for me. She had a group of friends called the “Mountain moving mamas” who have now been praying together for 30 plus years! I could give her a prayer request to bring before them (and I still can!)

    I have two girls now – ages 11 and 9. At 9, I started a journal for my oldest where we could write back and forth about the “big issues” as she started to learn more about the world and puberty and friend issues. She could ask embarrassing questions or I could write about concerns I had and we would dialogue together in this “no lies” safe place. It has been amazing to get to the stuff that she wouldn’t feel comfortable bringing up when there are three kids running around the house and life is crazy and busy. I just started the same thing with my second daughter, now 9, and I am very excited about finding ways to “be present” for both of them!

  • Stacy - For me, it’s simple. HONESTY.

    My mother and I have definitely butted heads over the years… I think it’s important to remember that she will probably go through some rebellious years. The important thing is for you to be honest with her — not just about life, but about yourself. Your past, and your mistakes.

    My mother told my sister and I all about her teenage years, the mistakes she made with drinking too young, dating too much, not focusing enough on her friends. When we asked her questions, she told us. She didn’t skirt around issues.

    A friend who has two small children recently asked me, “How do I become a mom who her children TRUSTS, the way you trust your mom?”

    Again, my mother and I have had our tough times, mainly because we are so similar and different in all the wrong ways, but I have never — not EVER — kept secrets from her. No matter what happened, she would know. The reason is because she was always honest with me, even when it didn’t make her look good, and she (and my father too) were very, very clear that coming to them with any issue (literally ANYTHING) would be OK.

    If we stayed out late with friends at 16, and found ourselves at a party and ended up drinking too much? We call her, we would never get in trouble. If we didn’t call, and we ended up drinking and driving home, or getting in a car with someone? We’d be in serious trouble. (This never happened, but my mom made the options clear to us.)

    She encouraged us to stand up for ourselves, and defend ourselves. She provided us with confidence and I didn’t even know it. I was never bullied in school, or made fun of, even though I was chubby and FAR from popular. She instilled a sense of worth in me, and I maintained it despite all of my own body issues that are typical of being a teenager. That confidence and security — knowing your mom (and dad) have your back, and know how to LISTEN, always — resonates and other people feel it.

    People don’t generally mess with children (or teenagers) who talk openly and freely with their parents.

    Hope this helps! You’re going to do a wonderful job. Heck, you already have! x

  • Janet @ ordinary mom - I think looking back, it was that my mom let us make mistakes. She allowed us to make decisions she would not have made for us and let us fail..by doing this we never felt like we had to live up an ideal which made the growing up all that easier. Also she let me teach her things. As I grew and explored the world, I could see her grow as well. She has now begun to explore the world herself (her and my dad). They started going to the places we have been but begun to make their own list of locations. I love that.

  • Kammie - I think the thing that made my relationship with my mom so close was honesty. I knew that I could come to her with ANYTHING. I’m sure that there were many things that she NEVER wanted to here, but she always made sure I knew that honesty was the best policy. I had so many friends that had to lie to their parents if there was something we wanted to do that they wouldn’t approve of and in return those friends are the ones that rebelled as we got older. My mom was a single mother so I think with it only being the two of us for so long our bond became stronger because she was the mother and the father. She never let me run wild, but she let me be my oneself and be independent. She knew that the only way I would learn would be by making my own way, even if I made that way with many mistakes. Always be their biggest supporter and even though there may be things you don’t necessarily want to hear make sure they know that they can come to you with ANYTHING! Those pictures of Firecracker are BEAUTIFUL!

  • Joan - I’ve asked myself many times how my mother ‘fostered’ our relationship. I’m not sure she ever gave it a thought. And after my youth and into my teens and then to married and having babies, all I have come up with is that I always knew my mother loved me. How? Not sure. She was always there, always kind, always set a good example. She was brave, too. Sometimes we lived in a tent, sometimes we had a home and finally mom and dad did have a home of their own. But none of that mattered because my mom was always there. And I knew I wouldn’t do anything that would disappoint her. And, oh yes, we always did things together – picnics, camping, dinners…. I guess she just set a good example. From reading your posts, I think you do that everyday!

  • bethblntn - My mother and I had a sour relationship growing up. It took me a very long time to forgive her for the way she was to me any my siblings but now that I have it is amazing to see our relationship slowly grow. I can never get back the childhood I never had but I can learn from it. At times, as a mother now, I fear, more then anything, becoming that way. But strong, loving woman like you and these others that have posted comments on your blog give me hope, to see what a good mother is like, what I can be for my babies and though you all and Christ I now I can (and will be) an amazing mother. I can’t tell you how me and my mother had a good relationship but I can say this, just the fact that you long for that and strive for it shows that you already are an amazing mother. <3

  • Laura - At 8 years old I struggled with reading comprehension; it was horrible. My mother and I sat in the ‘good’ living room where it was quiet and she read to me…alot until I finally had that moment! I will never forget how much she and I read and read together…I am an avid reader to this day. My parents were strict on me as a teenager and I hated it, but I respected them. I was one of those girls that never snuck out of the house. I had great respect for my parents, I didnt get into alot of trouble; I didnt want to disappoint them…now my little brother on the other hand that is another story. I do think I am lucky not to have had grown up in the cell phone years, the computer game years. My advice to you: keep it simple, be a parent not a friend and be strict with those curfews and restrict them from going out the next weekend if those curfews are not met…they will thank you later and read to them alot!

  • Hannah - My mom and I had a strong relationship when I was a child, and it has only gotten stronger as I’ve started my own family! Growing up, my mom was always encouraging me to find things to do that I enjoyed. She’d often at least try to participate, and then she’d beg off later if it wasn’t for her. She let me try my had at gardening my own little bit of our house garden (I was TERRIBLE!), spent hours “forcing” me to cross stitch and play piano (which I’m VERY grateful for now), worked so hard with me on spelling bee prep, and math, and drove me to all my academic competitions. Those drives are some of my most favorite memories of being a teenager! When it was time to spread my wings, she has been very encouraging. Even if I choose to do things that she disagrees with, she let’s me know her opinion, while at the same time, being very clear that she understands that this is my life, my mistakes to make, and that she’ll always be there to process it later. She’s the BEST grandmother I never had. I have the best mom.

  • Necole @seriouslysassymama - My mom is pretty awesome. She is Martha Stewart and Betty Crocker all rolled into one. She worked when we were little, but always put a meal on the table. When she retired at the young age of 47, she was front and center with all our school activities. She lived vicariously through us during those years. She always wanted to teach us something from making cookies to doing our own laundry. She was the mom all my friends wanted in high school. She was and is my role model on being a good wife. i talk to her almost everyday. She was always present.

  • Dawn Nikol - I’m 31 and my Mom is my best friend. I always remember thinking of her that way, except when I was 16 and rebelling. That was a really tough year for both of us. She would let me know when she was disappointed in me and we had a knock down drag out fight one time – not physically hitting, but we were yelling and I kicked a picture frame and ended up in stitches (super smart 16!). I can’t say what specifically helped us stay so close, I just remember her always being there for me and I knew I could tell her anything. I still can. We still have some disagreements, but I always hope my girls love me as dearly as I love my Mama. It was just so many little things that added up to us being so close.

  • Raeanne - My mom is my best friend now and I talk to her almost daily. The best thing she did as I grew up was be my mom- not so much of a friend, but a mom. Taking care of my needs, disciplining me, training me, modeling unconditional love like Jesus… She demanded respect and showed me she deserved it. She played with me with my baby dolls and was my biggest cheerleader. She was always there for me. I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that my mom thought the world of me and loved me enough to discipline me when I needed it.

  • Rachel - My mom made sure I had a “village” of women. They each had something different and wonderful to share with me. I learned a great deal many things from these lovely ladies. These ladies helped to shape me into the woman I am.

  • Lauren - Ashley,

    I have an amazing relationship with my Mom; she’s one of my best friends. My Dad died when I was ten and we moved to an entirely different state a year later. Needless to say, I was an emotional wreck during middle school and high school. She was always incredibly patient with me throughout my teen years. Additionally, she was excellent at validating my feelings, even though the majority of them were rooted in poor worldview or selfish motives. She graciously listened to me and then would gently lead me back to the Gospel. Also,as the years have passed, she has become more adept to being able to listen to what I have done and just laughing with me over my mistakes rather than condemning. I already know what her expectations are of me–to pursue God. She’s always been purposeful in rejoicing with me over what I’m learning in life and walking by my side through all of that. I feel like I can come to her with almost anything.

  • Heidi Smith - Adorable shot of Little One taking a picture with your phone of sleeping Firecracker, love it! ;)

  • Tiffany - *Love my mom~~~ <3
    I'm almost 35 now, but still fondly remember the nights I got to stay up late w/my mom (even on school nights a handful of times) to watch old movies (Cary Grant or Doris Day ones, usually)…~ *Thank you for the reminder– I'll have to take notes on others' special memories, as well (for my 4yo daughter's teen years, Lord willing)!~

  • Jana Smith - This is one of the sweetest posts, and also exactly how I’m feeling today. It’s my first day of teachers’ meetings to begin a new school year, and my heart wishes I was playing dress up and trains with my kids.

    Keep doing what you’re doing. My mom made sure she had time for me. She led by example every day. I saw her worrying over and serving others; always more concerned about everyone else’s well-being than her own. Her goofiness of spirit made for a very cheerful childhood. She always sang me silly songs and had silly sayings for everything. Sometimes realizing that I’m turning into my mom makes me sigh (because it looks like a lot of work), but then I think, “Why not? She’s great!”

  • Stoich91 - Beautiful! And I agree – an element of honesty goes a long way. Not pretending to be perfect but putting out a good example of how to try and be gracious when you’re not is the best!

  • Emily - My mom is my best friend – she’s here this week while I recover from breaking my toe. Right now she’s on the back porch playing with the boys (3.5 and 1) while I lay here on vicodin…forgive me if this is foggy. Mostly I remember her talking to me like I was an adult – not about adult things, there was definitely a line there to keep me from stressing out over things I couldn’t control – but she assumed I could understand the big words and she never dumbed down what we were talking about to “kid level.” She respected me and my opinions and that taught me to respect her and to respect my own children. She’s laid back and kind and funny and smart and encouraging without being falsely inflating. If I turn into her, I will be so happy.

  • Shan - When it came to the important stuff, she let my sister and I have an opinion. That being said…she didnt always go with our opinion. We often were over-ruled. She and my Dad ALWAYS had the final say. But we were heard. I try to do the same with my girls. But I dont always do as well as my Mom :)

  • Elisabeth - I have a good relationship, but have always been a daddy’s girl. I think what has made me more comfortable around him (rather than my mom) is that he never judges. He might not always agree with my decisions, but he simply listens, and only offers advice when I ask. My mom, although wonderful (we have gotten a lot closer over the past two years), often nags or gets annoyed when we don’t do things as she’d wish (I’m only 19, so I hope this will change as I get older :) ). So my best advice is to simply listen and not judge them (feel free to judge their actions, but not them for those actions, if that makes sense).

  • Jenna - Love this post! I am the middle child and second daughter in my family. My mom always has been my biggest fan. She knew when to challenge me and knew when to support me and I thank her for that. I will never forget when I was sitting in the LA airport, getting ready to go to Australia to study abroad. I called my mom in tears saying I couldn’t do it, I couldn’t go. So she told me to get on the next plane back to Minnesota and she would get me at the airport and I would have to go back to college. I was shocked to hear her say that, I never expected that – I wanted sympathy and she gave me reality. Needless to say, I got on that plane to Australia and I am forever grateful for her setting me straight! Anytime I need a reality check, my mom is there for me, with support, guidance and her own experiences.

    Another important thing I hated when I was a teen, but now value in my life is that my mom was never my “friend.” She would say no and stick her ground. She never tried to fit in with my friends or be the “cool” mom. Instead she stuck to her values and like I said, that would cause tension, but now I get it and thank her for it.

    I have a feeling you will be an awesome mom to these girls as they grow into beautiful young women!

  • Kelli - what a wonderful opportunity. My mother, my children’s grandmother, has always carried an amazing gift of a listening ear. It really is a special talent that not every one can do, and yet, I will work hard to hold on and do for my children to the ability I’m able. Her special gift is that you are safe telling her ANYTHING. She is not a reactor, when need be (which isn’t always), she is is an amazing responder. She accepts and loves people right where they are. She doesn’t see the talent/gift, because it comes naturally to her. I can’t tell you how amazing it is to have a sounding board to the hard things in life. She doesn’t fix, doesn’t advice, she listens and knows when you just need to be heard. I didn’t recognize it in my youth, but wow, seeing my children be given that from her, really turns my heart.

  • Sheree - My Mum gave me time: I too followed her around and even have memories of sitting in the bathroom talking while she showered and outside the toilet door even still talking and telling her things and never once can I recall her saying “Go away for 5 minutes”. I could ask her ANYTHING — if I heard something strange at school or a swearword I would say “Someone said *this* — what does it mean and why is it bad?” and she would rationally explain why they said it and why we don’t. :) She was transparent — we could talk about anything and as we got older and wanted to know about boys and sex etc she would just explain it all with such transparency and not shroud stuff as “secret” so.

    I was also infused with the knowledge that we were loved and that if at any time in our lives we made a mistake she would love us — no matter what — and walk with us through any consequences. There’s something wonderful about knowing that when you stuff up you have someone to turn to and know that they will love you. And for me, when someone loves you no matter what — it makes you want to strive for something greater — for your joy to be your Mum’s joy.

    I also think she set a great example — she lived it all out — it was never just words but action too. She loves extravagantly; lives life to the fullest, leads with her heart tempered by her head. So if she would say “Do to others as you want done to you” then she lived by that herself etc and that in and of itself has a great impact!

    I think the analogy that springs to mind as I got older is that we were like two cogs — we are always connected but just a different part of that cog which mean I felt that I was allowed to grow up and she would let go in the areas that she needed to let go of at the right click of the cog. I don’t think it’s an easy thing to do — I now have two bambinos of my own and I think I will always have that pining want for everything to work out fine for them — for them to be safe and happy and for them to be people of character and mostly to be people who can love others extravagantly in the same way that God loves us. But part of that is the letting go and I think my Mum did that really well allowing us space to branch out yet still know we are connected no matter where we are or what we do.

    And now as an adult, we are best friends but also something more and the only word I can really use is, she’s my Mum — she doesn’t need to “mother” me so much anymore but there is more depth to the word Mum that encompasses being best friends, confidants and yet still needing her.

  • Amy K. - My mom & I are best friends now, but we had some tough times. My relationship with my stepdad was awful when I was a teenager and I felt like my mom did not stand up for me like she should have. All that to say, even if things go off the rails a little bit, it is possible to be close later on. My mom & I have had a great relationship for years now, but I am just now realizing how much she did to make my young childhood great, and she really seemed to enjoy it too!

  • Alison - I really do not think you need advice, you are raising beautiful girls. Yes we are in blog land, but you can tell they are beautiful INSIDE which is what matters. I am very close to my Mom and I am 42 yrs old. My Sister is 46 and is also very close. I am blessed to still live in the same town as my Mom/Dad so that has given us the ability to grow closer as we both go through different stages as we age. Things I remember about my Mom: She ALWAYS let us be in the kitchen with her. No matter how big the mess or how long it delayed her cooking we were allowed to help. She taught us how to care for a home which included cleaning, laundry, canning, gardening, loving our Dad and respecting him. She had rules and we had to follow. She was strict, but always gave us a little rope and sometimes we hung ourselves. So I guess she knew when it was time to let us make our own choices. But most of all she was always, always there for us to listen. She would give advice sometimes, but always gave support. She was our biggest cheerleader too. Again, I am 42, and she is still my biggest cheerleader and I love her dearly. Even though I am a single Mom with a Boy, I am fostering many of these same motherly traits. And so far, he loves dearly so I must be doing something correct. :)

  • Katherine Serina - My mom and I aren’t best friends, but we also have no problems. She was very busy working when I was growing up so I don’t recall many memories of us bonding. I understand now, that she had to work full time, but I also wish we had more time together. I grew up with babysitters until a teenager. When I was a teenager, it was a roller coaster (mostly cause of me and my phase) but till now we don’t share secrets, talk intimately, or bond. I’m 25 now, and she’s still very busy with work and business, and I understand that’s her passion. But I also wish she would spontaneously want to shop, have lunch, watch a movie. Of course she’s not a bad mother!!….but I do wish she had the time (until now) to hang out with us, to listen to my siblings and I, and just talk. We only do those things on special occasions. She always says she’s busy and has to pay the bills. I respect her, and one thing I learned, since I’m also a mom now, is to give time to my kids. Time, listening, bonding with me is what makes us close. There’s lots of time in the world, but you can’t go back and re-live the moments we could’ve had.

  • Rebekah Lyon - Just started following you on IG & hopped on over to see your blog post today. What a lovely topic! :) I’m a designer/artist. My mom was, too. (Well, she still is but gets to be so perfectly in heaven now.) She always let me draw, color and make a mess…all in the name of creativity and art. Loved that about her! Another amazing thing she did was to never speak badly of my dad — never. Sometimes you could tell she wasn’t happy about what was said/done (haven’t we all? ;) but she never, ever said anything to cause me or my 3 sisters to think badly of him. She was just very, very kind and respectful to everyone — especially children. And I don’t know that there is a better gift than to truly enjoy children like she did. It didn’t matter who’s child was nearby — a neighbor’s, family member, child in the store — she always had a gentle way about her and a smile for each one. Thank you for letting us share what we remember and feel was important to us. The fact that you’re thinking about and asking this question shows great insight and wisdom as a mother. You are doing good by those sweet treasures. Enjoy them! :)

  • Kendra - Growing up, I was always told that I looked (and acted) like my dad. I loved my mom, but my primary relationship was always with my dad. I grew up the oldest of sisters on a farm, so spent the majority of time with him outside with machinery and livestock.

    When I had kids, my perspective changed. Then, I suddenly understood her busy-ness in the evenings, the time she took to clip out new recipes for holidays, her constant state of patient exhaustion, her tears at random moments, her bewilderment at the miracle of her kids’ accomplishments. She drove her father over an hour to chemo appointments with me in the backseat, chased a bat out of our old farmhouse, tightened our belts when things were tough, and always noticed when we were upset.

    Rather than an ideal, I received a model of realistic mothering, and I am so very thankful. My mom is not a “supermom.” She was a nurse, a daughter, an altar guild member, a friend, a wife, a sister, a mom, and a person in her own right…all versions of things I’m trying to be now. It is the witness of her authenticity that I appreciate so very much now that I face similar challenges.

  • Paige B - I love this! My mom & I never had the terrible teenage tension or anything like that.She’s been my best friend & confidant all 25 years of life. I think the qualities that have kept our relationship so strong were 1. My mom celebrates us. Our victories are her victories. Our dreams are her dreams. She believes we can do anything and every tiny success brings her GENUINE joy. 2. The line was always open. No topic/ question was off limits and no matter what we confess, she would love, empathize, & keep our secrets. 3. She never talked to us like we were stupid or too young to understand We would talk about spiritual things, politics, whatever was of interest –> my earliest memories with her involve sitting on the couch before my brother and dad were up, drinking tea, and talking about Jesus. I treasure holidays because if we wake up before my husband, we still make our way to the couch to just talk about life. I treasure all of those special moments.

  • Shannon - I believe my Mum and I have such a strong relationship because i am so much like her, I would follow her everywhere when i was young i became difficult at times but she handled it so well because she did what i was doing when she was my age so she understood. She was and still is always approachable no topic is off limits. And now that i’m older i can appreciate everything she did, she’s my best friend :)

  • Stephanie - My mother was always so very patient with me.
    But instead of writing about her and I, I wanted to share that I am a young mama to a daughter that I just left at college last Sunday. I was just pregnant with her at her age and I mean just, our birthdays are a day apart. We share a wonderful, open, loving relationship. She is a very smart, funny, honest, a classic beauty, a adored older sister to three, and so much more. I know almost to good to be true right. We have had our moments believe me she is also very feisty, stubborn, and speaks her mind ;). Anyway, I could go on all day…my best advice right now would be stay honest with them, apologize when you are wrong or they are wronged by another, talk a lot, and most of all besides unconditional love let them be who they want to be,not what you hoped or dreamed for them. ;) best wishes and enjoy!

  • Elisabeth - I didn’t understand it at the time, but my mom was really good at understanding me and my brothers as people, as individuals, even from a very young age. She was tuned in. Always. I remember asking her when I got older why she let me do some hideous thing (paint my room purple, wear a crazy jumper, whatever) and she replied, “because it was deeply important to you at the time.” And that answer put her love into perspective for me. She cared more about my sense of self than her interior decorating plan or school picture. She let me be me, and I’m so grateful for that.

  • Lisa Johnson - Growing-up-girls is something I am very familiar with these days. Trying to put into words “girl mothering” seems daunting. I am blessed with a marvelous mom and I am blessed with 5 precious daughters. I have made many mistakes but God is so faithful. I think one of the most important things is to live out an authentic spiritual walk with Christ before them. Apologize when you’re wrong. Open your heart. Let them see you struggle. Let them know you cry out to God.
    Serve the Kingdom and teach them to do the same. Center your lives around service.
    Someone told me when I was expecting my first baby- don’t have babies to meet a need in you. They belong to the Lord, not you. I still try to live by that. And I rejoice to see them follow where He leads- even when it is away from me :)
    Also, I believe it is so important to encourage each one to be themselves- Not compelled by a family expectation, but truly free to develop into the unique person God has made them to be. Rejoice in their differences. Invest in their gifts.
    Finally, spend lots of time laughing together. It’s good for the soul.
    You are a wonderful mother Ashley. You have taught me so much about being intentional and soaking up the daily, little joys that together make up a lifetime of memories :)

  • eve - My mom always worried so much, but she was able to give me a sense of freedom /trust that I always respected. She always told me she had confidence in me and trusted my dicision making. Sure she knew I would make some mistakes, but she know that I would make decisions based on the values she taught me. I was so thankful for this growing up I respected her and the rules we had in the family (well, most of the times- I was a teenager, afterall). I knew I could always talk to her about anything and she was always there to talk. All of this made it very easy to become even closer /friends when I became an adult. That mother-daughter relationship is such a special bond… We’re lucky to have this, as it’s not always an easy relationship for some..

  • Debbie - I would stress making traditions that you share with your girls. My mom would take me with her to the grocery store as a young girl and I always got a box of animal crackers if I was well behaved. Oh how the simplest things can inspire good behavior in kids, but also instill in them a sense of “home” when they are miles away from home, go grocery shopping, and spot a box of animal crackers and buy it for nostalgia’s sake. Take the time to make repeat traditions that you share with each of them individually. My mom and I go to the pool together as often as we can—just the two of us. I treasure that time not because we spend much time actually talking (mom likes to swim laps) but because it is our thing that we do together and can count on it. :-)

  • Sarah - I know that I am not of the norm but I am 26 and still talk to my mom (who lives 5 hrs away) multiple times a day. She is one of my best friends. Her advice never fails and she always listens. Growing up I was a lot like your girls – always by her side. Even when I was a teenager or in college I loved getting to spend real quality time with her. Looking back I think one thing my mom always fostered was a sense of openness and no judgement. I could tell her what I was going through or struggling with and she would never get upset with me. I could (and still can) come to her with anything and her arms will always be open wide.

    You are doing it right, Ashley. Those babies of yours are beautiful and well loved.

  • Dawn - I have loved reading everyone’s stories and thoughts. I am always asking other’s about their families and praying that my family will always be tightly knit together!
    My mom and I have always had an easy going relationship-we have had times where we were closer than others. She was always (and still is) great about making birthdays, holidays special. In fact, she and I have been obsessing over my daughter’s upcoming first birthday. Throughout my life, she has sent notes, letters and care packages. Recently, she sent me a book that I had been wanting. Someone mentioned in an earlier comment that “love is in the details” and I think that is so true.
    As a mom to a young son and daughter, I am praying that I can be the mom they will have good things to say about when they are older. I try to be a person they can look up to and above all else, know that I loved them with every bit of my heart!
    Thanks for this post Ashley! Your family is beautiful! And thanks for everyone for sharing! I have read every comment!

  • Betsy - Wish I had time to read everyone’s comments! My mom did so many things well. One thing that comes to mind is how she sat by my bed almost every night and asked me how she could pray for me (even when I was in high school) and then we prayed together. This always prompted me to share what was going on in my life or what was on my heart and we often ended up talking for a while. I am adopted, and am just so thankful for the family God placed me in! I have found some of my birthfamily as well, so that has been neat. I just see God’s hand in every detail.

  • Keri M - I’ve loved reading these! There’s so much great feedback here already, but I just wanted to share my thoughts:

    I think the most important thing my mom did for me, and continues to do for me, is to support me. She’s ALWAYS encouraged me to be who I want to be and has never tried to control my life. Sure, there were times growing up, that I made questionable choices, or decisions different from those she would have made. But she’s never judged me for it. She’s challenged me, but has never once questioned my judgment and ethics. She’s always put faith in my intelligence and my ability to run my own life. To this day, my mother is the first person I call when I need advice. I think this is because she has always made herself available, without pushing me in one direction or another.

    I grew up and moved far away from home. I know she misses me everyday (because I miss her too), but she tells everyone that she raised me to be independent and that she’s proud of me for doing so.

    I’ve called my mother every single day since college. I know I can tell her anything/everything–and I do.

  • Christina - With Firecracker so peacefully sleeping you can really see the girl she’s going to grow to be. I can just picture her all grown up. Not that it needs to be rushed! My mom and I have a very strong bond. We sewed together. I never really wanted to sew, but she was always encouraging me and i’m glad she did. We shopped together, lots of antique shops and even some retail. She would give us “just because” cards all the time from Hallmark. She always let me know she was my friend, but my mom first and I think that’s important. I don’t feel like it was anything she really worked and tried hard to do, it just came naturally for us. She grew-up with her mom (who had her at 16) and they were best friends. I have a son, but I feel like we will also have a very special bond, not because i’m actively trying to make it so, but because it just comes naturally for me. My mom and I are closer than ever now, but we have born so much loss together and been each others rocks. Sometimes I feel like I play the role of mother to her these days. :) After the loss of my dad she and I spent a lot of time together grieving, but the one thing to come from that time that we have kept up for 11 years now is to road trip together. Each summer we do a two week road trip (which my son now joins us on) and just go where the wind takes us. It’s such a great time to talk and connect, just the two of us. I don’t think it’s what you do when you’re together, but that you are together.

  • Kate @ Songs Kate Sang - My momma. She just loves everybody. She remembers the little details about me and makes sure that she celebrates me. On my birthday last year, she knew that I just like a starbucks treat and a day to take pictures someplace beautiful. She may have wanted a different day, but she made what I wanted priority. It was always things like this. She always made sure that I knew I was so special and so important. It’s just that simple. :)

  • skippee - I think you are doing an amazing job raising your girls (and boys!) and I look to you for inspiration and as a role model. My mom is one of my best friends and I talk to her almost every day. She has always been there for me and I have never had to doubt that. Although she worked around the clock (as she still does) while I was growing up I still knew that she was there if I needed anything. I think the key to our closeness is that we talk…a lot! She loves hearing the smallest details of my days and listens to every mundane decision making process, new purchase, plans, anything. I feel comfortable just telling her everything and it has been such a blessing in my life to have that kind of support and encouragement.

  • Sarah - My mother and I were very close when I was in High School. She knew everything about my life and at times it felt like we were best friends. When I moved away to college, it felt like she resented the fact that she was no longer completely involved in my life. She still acts constantly hurt when I don’t share every minute detail of my life with her. It has made it difficult to find a good balance in our relationship. Show your girls unconditional love and always be on their side, but don’t become so dependent on their relationship that you can’t let them become independent when its time.

  • Megan - Listen intently and love unconditionally.
    Know what you want them to grow up and be like, and be that example.
    Your girls will follow suit.

    My Mom is my best friend – she listens to every grumble and joy – She really celebrates life with us.

    I wrote about her in a blog on her birthday – I am from a family of 8 – So, you might enjoy the ‘kid’ perspective to a large family: http://www.lifeloveandlemons.com/blog/2012/2/13/it-is-more-than-words-birthday-tribute-to-mom.html

  • Susannah - My mother and I are very close, partly due to my being an only girl in a family with 5 brothers for 16 years and being homeschooled all of my life, but most of all because God is the center of our lives. Around this time last year my 45year old Mom (I am 17) went into the hospital because she was having problems with her pregnancy. Before she went into the hospital, she was kind of stressed out because she had a number of miscarriages before this last pregnancy. When, a few days after she found out she was pregnant, she couldn’t sleep at night she felt that she should ask someone to pray for her who wouldn’t tell other people that she was pregnant. She chose me. What an honor to have my mother trust me like that! We also are close because my Mom and I do things together: about once a week my Mom and I sing and talk while making bread, we often cook together, we help care for my new baby sister together, and we work on our garden together. She also has given up many of her own desires to homeschool seven children. What a blessing it is to be with my family and to be taught by them for all of these years! God bless! Proverbs 31:30

  • Emilie - She let me go.
    That showed me that she loved me unconditionally. She let me spread my wings and move across the country to pursue a career and build a life with my husband.
    I still talk to my mom all the time.
    I am homesick for her every day.
    I can’t wait to go home for the holidays.
    But having her support in pursuing my dreams is something that I will be eternally grateful for!

  • Karen grimshaw - Mother always read to us, the classic stories, Bible stories, fairy tales, nursery rhymes. She made time every day, her three children are readers, and we have this common bond. She also so to it that since I wanted to be in the marching band, I got clarinet lessons, my brother got all he needed for baseball activities.

  • Lindsay - My relationship with my mom has been one of the most challenging in my life. I was adopted the day after I was born and my parents are completely wonderful, loving and just, great. They are always there for me and love me unconditionally. But something has always been missing with my mom – she tried so hard to not be the parent who acts like a best friend instead of a mom that she never really developed a friendship between us. I didn’t feel like she was in my corner, she always played the devil’s advocate, always tried to be logical and reasonable about the problem instead of sympathizing with me when sometimes I just needed a shoulder to cry on. Although my mom knows me well, I have NEVER felt like she understands me. Growing up she was very critical of me and so concerned with my responsibilities that she kind of ignored the closeness and intimacy that comes with motherhood. I have two girls of my own now and they are the light of my life. I feel so close to them and want them to always feel cherished, loved, understood and that they can talk to me about anything. That’s what I missed – this feeling of complete understanding and acceptance. I wish I could call my mom and tell her anything, I wish she would relax and laugh and/or cry with me instead of always wanting to fix things for me.

  • Lindsay - Also I just wanted to say that I think you are a wonderful mama Ashley! Thank you for letting us be a part of your family and get to know your girls (& boys too). You are a huge inspiration to me with your simple life and big heart! I love reading through all these comments, so sweet.

  • Kim - My mother and I were always very close! Growing up, I knew I was so important to my mom. I always felt loved by her and she always made time for me. She gave me the feeling that motherhood was the best thing that ever happened to her. We talked…a lot! Growing up, I lay at the end of her bed and talk to her for what seemed like hours. Even in HS, I would come home at night and go in her room and lay at the end of her bed and just talk. She never shielded me from issues that our family went through (mainly financial.)We prayed to together all the time. Now as a mother of 3 girls (2 in college) I’m blessed to be so close to all my girls!

  • Christa Mae - My mother and I had a strained relationship from a very young age – I was always a daddy’s girl and followed my dad around the way most girls follow their mothers. My teenage years were the worst – we would constantly fight and be at each others’ throats. I never respected her opinions about my life, thinking she was naive and had no life experience, which was something I desperately wanted. I think the major turning point in our relationship was when I had been dating a boy that my parents did not approve of – when I finally realized the relationship wasn’t going to work and ended things, I think that’s truly when I started to realize that my mother may have been right about many things that I had fought her on in the past. I began to respect her more and since then we have become very close – talking at least 3 times a week and seeing each other very regularly. I think the best thing my mom ever did was not to give up on me. The day I came home from ending my relationship, she didn’t say “I told you so” or anything, she just hugged me and told me she was proud of me for making the right decision. I pray to God that my now 3-year-old daughter never shows me the same disrespect I showed my mother, because I’m not certain I have the level of patience to handle the situation nearly as gracefully as my mother did.

  • Internet Inspiration – August 23, 2013 | k.foley wellness - […] Ann is the best. I can’t recommend her photography course highly enough, and I loved this article from her about her daughters. Definitely read through all the comments. I have the best mom in the […]

  • Sherry - Ashley, you are well on your way already! My mom and I have not been close but in her 70′s, she is trying to build a relationship w/me and I’m trying to be open to her. I always knew I was loved, but in a guarded, formal and conditional kind of way. My brother and I never believed we were as important as our parents careers.

    I’ve tried to give my daughter all I missed from my own mom and we are very, very close. She’s now 27 and a mom and lives far away which makes me very sad. Things I did differently was, first of all, behind her dad and my relationship w/God, she was/is my most important priority and greatest joy. I tell her constantly that I love her and am proud of her. I’ve always been physically affectionate, hugging and kissing her as much as she was comfortable with. To this day she sits on her momma’s lap! I’ve taken an interest in the things that interest her and have made a point to keep up with her friends’ lives. From the very beginning I’ve been completely open with her, shared my own struggles and joys and listened to hers. We worked hard to make any topic of conversation or idea something to be discussed. Thus, at 7 she asked me about the mechanics of intercourse (they hear things from friends that will befuddle you!) and at 9 why a woman would choose to be a prostitute instead of a secretary! Needless to say, we’ve had to stay on our toes. Today, I feel sad for my mom and all she missed, because a close relationship with your daughter is one of the very best treasures.

  • Eva - One of the things that my mom did for me throughout my childhood and early adulthood that I will forever cherish is write me letters. She was an incredible letter writer. She wrote often to extended family, and when I started attending summer camp (8 long weeks every summer for about 12-13 years), my mom wrote to my sister and me. She continued to write me letters when I was in college and even after I was married. She passed away 2 years after I got married (9 years ago), and I’m so happy to have so many of the letters she wrote me. She was not gifted in writing, far from it. But it meant the world to me that she took the time to write.

  • Savannah - Seeing all these posts about moms stings my heart a bit. My mom and I don’t have the greatest relationship. She was always the “fun” mom, many times more of a friend to my friends than I was. As I got older, as I arrived at the teenage years, we started fighting – often and bad. The issue – I realize in retrospect – was largely because my mom’s mentality is stuck at that of a teenager. And one teenager trying to parent another doesn’t work. Due to some mental health issues, my mom hasn’t moved past her teenage years. This caused more problems than I am willing to go into here, but I can say what not to do to a daughter: NOT be her parent. She wanted to be my friend, be loved, accepted, treated like the coolest person ever, and I couldn’t stand it – I wanted a mom.

    Luckily I have a very supportive dad and step-mom who filled in the gaps where the mothering in my life was lacking. But even as a young kid I would read about other people’s relationships with their moms and wonder why I didn’t feel the same about mine. She was fun, did fun things, and did discipline us some, but she was easily manipulated and acted too much like a child herself to fully gain the respect of my brother and myself as our mother.

    Today, it still hurts. I am in college now, and we are able to have a somewhat cordial relationship – albeit a distant one. But I can never have the “mom-daughter” relationship I crave.

  • Kaycee - I am married, but not a mother yet. I do have the world’s best mom though. She has always talked to us as adults, even when we were small. The mutual respect that we received from her is the biggest thing I hope to emulate when I have children of my own. I also think that it’s very important to remember that children are not ours, they are God’s. Entrusted to us by Him, we need to remember that these are our brothers and sisters and I think that goes along with the respect we need to give them. These are the things I hope to remember when I am a mother!

  • Nancy - Ashley, I know that you wrote this post over a week ago, but I have been on vacation and just now have been able to catch up on your blog. I am pregnant with my first baby and I love reading the advice that everyone has been giving. I had a very strong relationship with both of my parents (my father passed away about 3 years ago) and my relationship has become even stronger with my mom since my dad’s death. I think the best gift my mom has given me is showing me how important it is to have a loving and strong relationship with your spouse. My parents have always been a priority to each other and they have supported each other through thick and thin. So many of my friends come from broken/divorced homes and I see how they struggle in their own marriages because they don’t have an example to live by. The best thing you can give your kids is a strong marriage (which I can see you and Chris have).

  • practical ways to encourage » ashleyannphotography.com - […] couple weeks ago, I asked you what your moms did to foster great relationships with you. Today…I’m curious what are some of the […]

  • kirstin gentry - I love your heart to be a good steward of the precious gifts the Lord has given you. I share your desire to do everything in my power to forge a great relationship with my daughter (and hopefully more to come- we’re currently filling out our adoption papers!).
    I have the best mom ever- I am crossing my fingers that I can do half the job she did.
    The things she did that made such a difference for me- 1- She was my biggest fan (she still is!). I laugh at loud at some of the pursuits she wholeheartedly supported- bead making, baton twirling, debate. She was the first customer at my etsy shop and is so proud of our endeavors (even the fumble-y ones).
    2- She truly wants me to become who God intends for me to be. She was equally supportive of my plans to go to med school and my pursuit of social work instead. I think it takes such a loose grip to want God’s plan for your daughter instead of your own perception of what might be best.
    3- She is so selfless. I am constantly amazed at how generously she gives of her time and resources.
    Thanks for asking this question! The comments are gold…

  • Kristin Taylor - My mother and I became really close when I was around 14yrs old..she made sure that we had a mother/daughter date EVERY Tuesday night..she would get home from work, we would jump in the car and take off…either go see a movie, go to Barnes and Nobles and just talk, or go eat out and shop..ect..but no matter what, EVERY single Tuesday of every week was OUR day…12yrs later, we are still super close. We talk on the phone everyday (some times multiple times a day) and I try to visit her at least twice a week..she loved to tell people that if she didn’t take the time to build our friendship and influence me in he right ways of life, then somebody may influence me in the wrong ways of life. I completely agree with that philosophy..and if I have a daughter, I will nurture that relationship to my best ability.

I bought it at Old Navy when FireCracker was less than a month old.

It has served my girls well…it has also been worn for far too many days in children’s hospitals.

A month in traction for a broken femur.

A cleft lip repair.

A cleft palate repair.

But then there were all the other beautiful days it was worn.


First day home from China.


Playing….lots and lots of days playing.

I’m not one to save a ton of stuff, but this is one of those childhood items that I couldn’t just pack away. I decided it needed a prominent place of honor in their room..at least for a little while. Though the shirt reminds me of a lot of hospital stays, it reminds me of so many sweet moments with my girls. Moments that were part of the pain of being in a hospital – moments I will treasure for a lifetime. It will be one of those items that if I get to grow old, I think I’ll look back on it and my memory will be flooded with the joys of the toddler years with my girls.

Funny how a worn out 2T shirt can be become priceless. My little wonder women – beautiful wonders that I just adore.

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  • dee - I love how you have hung it up for the girls.I would have to put it in a frame with some other bits and a few photos of them wearing it like a giant shadow box to treasure forever that way it wont get lost or damaged.I have done this with a dress of my daughters I put a pair of shoes a little toy and a necklace and bangle she always wore.It is 30 years old now and one of my most precious possesions. Also where did you get that awesome yellow blanket (throw) from I love it-love dee x

  • gale - Sniff. Perfect!!!!!

  • karen - SUPER!!!!!

  • amber - I think we’ve all grown to love that shirt on your girls almost just as much as you! Also, how does time go so fast? It feels like all that happened just a short while ago, but those pictures of Firecracker prove me wrong! Thanks for sharing those precious girls…they are pretty remarkable:). And totally adorable.

  • AshleyAnn - Dee – that is my eventual plan….but it takes me months to get any projects done, so for now it is just hanging on the wall!

  • Kassondra Taylor - Why am I crying over a silly T-shirt?!

  • Molly - such a sweet story about a couple very sweet girls and a way cool t shirt. i get all sentimental like that….so this is right up my alley. love that you are displaying it.

  • Michelle Eileen - I. Love. This. Post.

  • Izzy - This is a lovely post! What a wonderful way to keep all the memories with that t-shirt, it looks great with the photo bunting! Such a cute photo at the end!

  • Jenni - That is the most precious display and proper tribute to an item I have ever seen:). I adore that. I have tubs of clothes I can’t get rid of for that very reason. Something amazing happened in every last piece:)

  • Kristin S - Yes!

    Funny to look back at those baby FC pics and see her personality so strong then too. That beautiful cowlick too!

    When I see this t-shirt, I think of your family. For sure a keeper.

    Totally random, but I forgot about FC’s leg injury. Not sure how I could forget.

  • Kristin - Goodness, Ashley! I remember reading every post while you were in the hospital with FC, as if I was right there going through it with you & can’t believe she was that little! Truly time does fly.

  • Monica - Beautiful memories! Your girls are adorable!

  • Samae - Cutest post about a shirt EVER.

  • Kate @ Songs Kate Sang - I LOVE this! I so remember the pics of Firecracker in that shirt. Ugh – happy tears.

  • Kara M - I love it when God gives us a small treasure to remind us of how He has carried us through some hard days (and good)! I am wearing a necklace today with the Chinese symbol for hope. It always reminds me of some hard days in China that God taught me to place my hope in Him!!

  • Cynthia Filiberto - Got my morning coffee and cry in. I love that you have hung the shirt with photos of the girls rocking it! I have held onto a few items like that myself that remind me of the kids being smaller.

  • Laci - I love that I just got all pooly over a shirt. :)

  • Carrie - Great way to display it! Have you thought about putting it into a quilt?? Although it would be hard for them to share one quilt, I have seen some ideas on pinterest where people use loved t-shirts as the front for a quilt. I thought since you have some quilters in the family, it might be an option. Sweet pictures! I love seeing the ones of the sisters, since I have two little girls of my own. Thanks for sharing!

  • mindy - love!! i the person that gets attached to everything & so with my son’s clothing i am saving the the best of the best & eventually will make a quilt with them. love how you displayed the shirt with the photos. what a great memory your girls will have with this when they get older :)

  • Shari - My daughter was born weighing only 2 lbs, 13 oz. We had so few clothes that fit her, but I fell in love with one preemie sized sleeper she had that at first was too big, but that she eventually outgrew. I SO regret giving away that sleeper; I wish I would have kept it and put it in a shadow box or done something with it to remember how small she was and the struggles she overcame; I was too quick to dismiss my emotions over a “just a silly piece of clothing”. Good for you! What a sweet mom your girls have.

  • Mrs. kinne - This is beautiful! You have such beautiful girls– with big personalities. :)

  • Gwen, The Makerista - Such a beautiful story! So many strong memories attached to a shirt. Funny how material things can have such strong pulls on our heartstrings. Thanks for sharing!

  • Jen Mac - Love love love! Just cleaned out my oldest’s closet as she grew so much over the summer she had nothing to wear for back to school. I had to put a few outfits aside as I wasn’t quite done walking down memory lane.

  • Emily - Precious. Just made me teary seeing those pictures of Firecracker in the hospital.
    Awesome to hold on to… I know I would have a hard time with that too :)
    You are a blessed woman!

  • jules - Cute! I saw recently that someone framed old swimming suits that their children wore when they were little and hung them on the wall. You could do that with this shirt? or save for a “college quilt” when you’re done enjoying it now. Just a thought. So very precious, those strong girls!

  • Amy W - Oh I just love this. What a great way to remember the good and the not so good all together. Maybe someday one of your granddaughters will wear this shirt…. wouldn’t that be something.

  • Darcie - I think you should frame that one. :-) Everyone needs a little Wonder Woman in their life.

  • Lisa M. - What a great idea. Love it! So, so special.

  • Jennifer@Godstellations.com - A very special piece of cloth to hold so many memories! Sweet post.

  • kelli - how fast time flows

  • sarah j - it’s so fun to see these pictures of baby firecracker–the sass and spitfire was evident from the very beginning!

  • Emily - I am a sentimental sap ;-) I’ve got a tub of clothes that my boys have both worn that will be turned into a quilt when my youngest is finished with them. Coming home outfits and favorite shirts and things like that. I love the way you’ve displayed this shirt. It’s truly deserving a place of honor.

  • Mareen [eeny] - that’s amazing how much memories are attached to that one little shirt. such a great way to display some of these.

  • Kirsten | Wild Oak Stream - It reminds me of the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants…

    And that last photo with your girls raising their arms in the air, Firecracker with her fists powerfully closed tight, and Little One with her hands open… just speaks so much of their personalities. Adore!

  • Carol Van Boening - Might just be my favorite post from you. Made me tear up in the middle of the day. Your children are so blessed to have such awesome parents. Love the girls room, especially the t-shirt on the wall! How precious!!

  • Ronna Hocevar - The first thing I thought of is that shirt needs to be framed.
    A pretty shadowbox and years of memories to cherish.

  • Dawn - They did a beautiful job on your daughter’s cleft lip repair. I had a cleft palate and had surgery when I was two. Fortunately I did not have a cleft lip too and only needed the one surgery. Beautiful girls and what a lovely story.

  • kelleyn - Definately priceless and darling!

  • Jeannette - Love it! I sure miss seeing you guys!

  • Eva - That shirt is pretty awesome. And so are the girls that wear it.

  • AshleyAnn - Jeanette – I miss you so much too!!!

  • Vanessa - That is the perfect homage. I always smiled seeing that shirt on your girls. My, how they’ve grown!

  • Bernie - My daughter had Wonder Woman Underoos (do they still make them?)…two pieces that she wore from the time she was potty trained (about 2?) until she was 4+. At that point, the top wouldnt even cover her belly anymore! I sure hope I still have them packed away in case she has a “Wonder Woman” of her own. (she’s now 33!)

  • Kimberlee Jost - Gosh, I love this.

  • Kathryn C - Just gorgeous! Your girls are beautiful. Love memory making. We have a shirt that has the No. 36 on it – the first letter my eldest ever said (weird, I know – now her favorite number). Any time you asked her how many (of anything) she wanted it was always 36! Weird that I turned 36 during the first year of her life!! Coincidence :) Love your blog – it always brings a smile to my face, and things to ponder.

  • Alex - When I first started reading your blog, Firecracker was wearing that shirt all the time and I thought “wow, that girl IS Wonder Woman!” So cute that Little One followed in her footsteps. Beautiful display!

  • Allison - Love that shirt! And I love the journey it has been on! My daughter is stuck on this pink dress. I should document it for her to look back at one day. And I have to ask, where did you get the Super Girl t-shirt? It’s too cute!

  • meredith - Don’t know if you remember, but we were together when we first laid eyes on that little shirt! We couldn’t have imagined then ALL the precious memories it would one day hold! Such a sweet, fitting keepsake for you and your girls! Wonder-women, for sure! :)

  • Zulejka - Lovely. How did Firecracker broke her femur? It sounds so horrible! Poor little girl (well, I know she’s brave and it’s all long forgotten, but still…).

    Also, your photos and stories make me want to have more kids (I have a 15 month old girl and I sometimes think I couldn’t manage one more kid…).

  • Hannah O - Love this post! The same day you posted this I got an email from my sisters mother in law (Maria in this video) asking me to spread the word on a fundraising campaign they are doing! They made an iPad app to help connect families that aren’t able to be together all the time, and are now raising money to purchase iPads for Ronald McDonald houses for families to use during inpatient/outpatient stays… Check it out, I thought of your story when I got it!


  • Trysha - I have an overflowing drawer full of shirts I couldn’t let go. Ideally, they’ll be a t-shirt quilt one day. One day. Not today. lol

  • Amy @Fig Milkshakes - Oh man, I teared up when I saw this – and then I got embarassed about it.

    I mean, it’s just a shirt, right?! Right?!? Man, those “little things” really aren’t so little after all, are they?

  • Renee - that is a brilliant idea!! :)

Last week we got to enjoy a lot of time with Chris’ family. One of his sisters was in town with her family, which meant there were boys ages 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 11. Fun group. We went for a hike one day and I took my iphone 5 and my dslr. I thought I’d share a few of the photos with the settings today, for those of you that always comment you like these kinds of posts!

Right photo: Canon 5D, 45mm, ISO 160, 1/160, f/2.8

Left photo: iPhone 5

Canon 5D, 24mm, ISO 160, 1/200, f/2.8

Right photo: iPhone 5

Left photo: Canon 5D, 70mm, ISO 100, 1/320, f/2.8

Canon 5D, 51mm, ISO 500, 1/320, f/2.8

That last shot is one of my favorite from the hike – so typical of her. She’s always keeping up with the boys, usually with a stick in her hands too.

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  • danielle - I do like that park. It is a nice hike for little ones and beginners :) Plus the trees and bridge are gorgeous! That many boys need to be outside :) I see my boys hike and think, this engergy was never meant to be in a house!

  • Jacci - Love :) That’s a LOT of boys to have under one roof! Good move taking them outside ;)

  • Paige - I have a tough time balancing wanting to find the photo moments and putting the camera down and being fully present to enjoy the moment. Any words of wisdom, Ashley? Love seeing pics of your precious family!

  • Jamie - Love when you post your settings! Thanks.

  • Izzy - I love the second photo, of Little One walking along and all the trees. I like all of them, but that one is just so beautiful! The light coming through the trees makes a great background too.

  • Ebee - I ran into your husband and daughter yesterday morning and I wanted to send you a quick note…..could you email me? If not, I understand.

  • Jennifer@Godstellations.com - Love the pictures of your precious family! So sweet!

  • Kammie - Little One’s maxi dress is too cute! Where is it from? (My daughter has the same dress as Firecracker!)

  • Alex - I want to take my kids there! Where is it? Thanks

  • AshleyAnn - Kammie – it is from BabyGap a little over 2 years ago

  • AshleyAnn - Alex – it is called Ray Harrell Nature Park in Broken Arrow

  • Eva - All those extra boys, and she manages to keep up. Not surprising at all!

  • Gwen, The Makerista - Thanks for this, Ashley! Its nice to have a look and see if your settings would be close to what I would choose. Makes me feel like I’m somewhat on track. :)

    Looks like a beautiful day!

  • Kellie - I so appreciate that you share your settings for your photographs!

  • nichole - so much fun having so many boys around right? My husband’s brother was just in town visiting us last week too. We have 3 boys and so do they. We had 7,5,4,3,2,1 ages covered… in 4 years it would be the same as your crew!

  • Anna - It looks like another amazing day with the childen :)