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Advice from Mom’s Mom

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Kelley Watts, Stirling Watts

WONDERMOM SAYS Kelley Watts (pictured, with son Stirling, 4) says her late mother, Marilyn Sage Meagher, passed on parenting advice that she uses daily.

Buzz Baby is a column about babies from the perspective of a mom of three, including twin toddlers and a newborn.

Mom’s words can come in handy when parenting your own children. Sometimes, the most useful tactics come from what you learned in your childhood.

When Dr. Kelley Watts, a psychologist with a 4-year-old son named Stirling, was a young girl, she remembers standing next to her mother, Marilyn Sage Meagher, with a yellow phone book. Her mother watched as Kelley looked up the phone number to the pizza place, called and placed the order. Kelley’s mom wanted to teach her kids how to handle situations by themselves.

She started them with simple things, like ordering their own pizza. “She had shared her own challenges with self-esteem and confidence, and the conscious decision she made was to make sure she raised kids who believed in themselves,” said Kelley. “She expected us to work for what we wanted to achieve and encouraged us to set our sights high.”

Other advice she passed on was that “kindness and manners will get you far in life.” Kelley said that came in handy for her mom, who grew up in Houston with seven brothers and sisters and lots of friends and family. She taught Kelley how important your network is.

Kelley said she also used to say, ‘You just can’t see everything.’ “That was actually a piece of advice from my great grandmother, Johanna O’Connor, to my grandmother, Margaret Sage, in reference to how to manage parenting with eight children,” said Kelley. “I still find the essence of the advice relevant with only one child. As we all know, life can be busy, and we don’t always have the time or capacity to respond in the appropriate manner, so why not give ourselves permission to let some stuff slide.” Kelley lost her mother when she was 18, but still feels her presence in her own parenting.

Alex Hulsey, Ashley Hulsey, Anna Katherine Hulsey

MOM’S THE WORD Ashley Hulsey’s mom, Debbie Aduddell, always told her, “Don’t sweat the small stuff.” She tries to remember this while parenting Anna Katherine, 3, and Alex, 6. (Photo:

When Ashley Hulsey turned around to find her 2-year-old daughter, Anna Katherine, had smeared chocolate syrup all over her white couch, her mother’s advice rang through her head. “Don’t sweat the small stuff.”

“My mom has always been the one who never cried over spilled milk and always says ‘everything is going to be ok,’” said Ashley. “She definitely practices what she preaches. You really ‘can’t sweat the small stuff’ when you have a white slip-covered sofa.”

Her mom, Debbie Aduddell, again displayed that strong attitude in 2010 when she was diagnosed with breast cancer just a month before Ashley’s first baby (Alex) was born. “We were absolutely devastated when we heard the news,” Ashley said. “The thought of my mom not being there terrified me. We lived in Birmingham at the time, and even though she was sick and about to start chemo and radiation, she would not let me talk her out of coming to help us for a few weeks with the baby. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about how things could have been very different for us.

Anna Katherine Hulsey, Alex Hulsey

15 MINUTES OF FAME Anna Katherine Hulsey, 3, (pictured with brother Alex, 6) smeared chocolate syrup all over her parents’ white couch – yes, this one. Mom Ashley Hulsey snapped a picture, later shared on Ellen DeGeneres’ social media pages. (Photo:

“Mother’s Day every year is near and dear to me as I get to celebrate more time on this earth with her. She really is everything to us, and even though she’s a 7-hour drive away [in Oklahoma City], I can’t imagine our lives without her. She is the glue that holds our family together.”

A different Ashley, Ashley Willis, has a 13-month-old baby girl, Halley. Her mother, Dianne Forgason, and grandmother, Leonean Harrison, are Ashley’s go-to women for parenting advice. Ashley and her mother are both only children, so their bond is extra tight.

Ashley Willis, Halley Willis, Dianne Forgason, Leonean Harrison

GENERATIONS New mom Ashley Forgason Willis (pictured, with daughter Halley, 13 months), takes parenting advice from her mother, Dianne Dreyling Forgason, and grandmother, Leonean Hunt Harrison.(Photo:

Dianne encourages Ashley to enjoy the early years of Halley’s childhood. “My mom always said that you can never hold your baby too much,” said Ashley. “She told me I would never look back now or when she’s all grown and think, ‘I wish I hadn’t held her so much when she was little.’

“It was hard the first six months of Halley’s life because she suffered from acid reflux and would not sleep or nap hardly unless she was being held. Those times were very, very hard. I couldn’t have done it without my mom helping me through that time.”

To all of the moms – and those who do the job of moms –  out there giving advice through example and words, keep it up. And Happy Mother’s Day.

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