Maybe it's because it's a new year. Maybe its because I recently had a milestone birthday. Lately, I've been thinking about the legacy I will leave my children. What sage advice do I want them to hold onto?
I often pull pieces of wisdom out of the air like the pieces of crepe paper descending and fluttering in the wind coming off a freshly pummeled piñata. They no doubt come from people like my mother, my grandmother and other mentors who have profoundly influenced my life.
As a writer, I hope my body of work will be a road map for them - my books, and the archive of these posts that I have diligently crafted for years about my experience as a mother. But I want to make sure that some of the pieces of crepe paper are bigger and more important that others.
In many ways, I think those of us who grew up in the 1970's are defined by a little dusty dish of flower-shaped soap in our family's guest bathroom. This soap was to never be touched, only to be looked at.
Back then, there was no such thing as liquid hand soap, so the only option was to take a bar of soap out of shower (if there happened to be one, half baths clearly lost out in this measure), or to wash your hands without soap. It was an unspoken rule that you didn't use the soap or the fancy towels hanging stiffly (from years of un-use) on the rack behind you.
So, here's my biggest piece of advice for my girls and for anyone else who is interested: Use the fancy soap - whatever that means in your life. Don't hold onto things for a special occasion. Make the journey a special occasion. I could go on and on with this metaphor for days - use the good dishes, wear the fancy dress, drink the saved bottle of champagne - you get the idea.
I ride in a charity bike race every year that gives out fancy perfumed soap as a gift to riders. I always stuff it in a drawer. It makes my clothes smell great. But the other day I ran out of the liquid hand soap.
I put a note on my grocery list to buy some. Then I remembered the fancy soap in my drawer. What was I saving it for? I had no idea. So, I unwrapped it and set it on a dish next to my sink. Every day now, when I wash my hands, it makes me smile.
Amanda is the mom of two, a reporter for WRAL-TV and the author of several books including some on motherhood. Find her here on Mondays.