I just got back from celebrating moms weekend at my daughters college. The crushing pain my heart felt as I left her there 7 months ago is just a distant memory now. She has grown in so many ways in such a short amount of time. She asked me to dry her hair this morning and as I ran my fingers through her hair, I saw a small glimpse of her… that little girl who had always been the biggest part of my own little world. I had a flashback to the tiny pigtails and her sweet little face with those great big eyes that were always excited and bursting with life. I smiled to myself as the realization embraced me. Not much has really changed except her height. Her eyes are still the same on a more mature face and the light is stronger than ever. My greatest joy is seeing her happy. I decided long ago that would be my intention for her. Her happiness may look different than I envisioned years ago, but when the heart sees, the heart knows. This has been a year of growth for both of us in many ways but I am grateful for this wonderful time in our lives. This is the part where I get to sit back and watch her bask in her own light. Our lives looked so different a year ago and here we are at this exciting place along this amazing journey. There is no greater joy than being a mom and I am grateful for the reminder as this wonderful moms weekend comes to a close.
Sadly, I am learning the result of accommodating everyone in my life. I have spent so many years trying to keep the peace and make everyone else happy that finally I have lost my own voice. I cannot even hear it anymore and I can’t help but wonder if it even tries to speak. Everything has become a negotiation. Just this morning I wanted the family to go for breakfast and everyone had an attitude or conditions. Being a mom is not always easy and often times it is downright hurtful. I wait all week for a tiny slice of time for us to be together but someone always throws a stick in the spoke until the bike has a tragic accident. It’s broken and today I feel sad and broken but instead of sitting around feeling sorry for myself, I will go out and do something that makes me feel good. The others can stay home and be in good company with their cell phones, computers, attitudes and conditions and I will simply carry on. No sense throwing myself in the middle and crying victim. I am in charge of my own destiny and sometimes it is necessary to leave everyone behind and follow on my own path. As for being a woman, I have to stop using that as an excuse. I swear it is almost innate to make everyone feel important and included but you know what I’ve realized? It’s necessary to include myself in that behavior as well. Time to find my voice and make it strong again. Time for some conditions of my own. Time to make some changes starting right now. Wish me luck.
First of all, if you are reading this, you must be questioning your own ability to parent. You are probably cringing, wondering to yourself, AM I a crappy parent? Read on to find out.
I’d like to start by reassuring you that I don’t think the majority of us are crappy parents. However, I do believe all parents act crappy from time to time.
Today was my daughters first swim meet of the season. I was sitting next to one of the moms I know, when her son walked up after finishing the 50 free. He asked her if she saw him swim and she nodded her head yes. What was your time, she asked? He responded 32 seconds. Her response actually made my heart hurt. He was excited about his time. In fact, for a first year swimmer he said he was proud of that time. What did mom say? That’s not a good time. It’s just not good enough.
There I was sinking lower in my chair. Was I that kind of parent ripping my child’s confidence away instead of building it up? Did my child’s success or failure depend on my expectation of her instead of what she was actually capable of? We all want our kid to win the race. When she comes in first place, we as a parent win because our child is better and faster and stronger than everyone else. The problem with that is there can only be one winner. We have to learn to be proud of our own child whether she comes in first or last. Imagine swimming a race with all you have only to step out of the pool and hear your own mother(who should be your biggest cheerleader) say “that was not good enough”. You are not good enough.
We’ve all done it to some extent or the other. The important point is to recognize it and stop that pattern right in its tracks. Are you perfect all the time? Are you the best at everything? Anything? Give your kid a break and make her feel good for having the dedication and commitment to step up and want to be in the race. Some kids don’t even make it that far. Do you like to be measured and compared to the people around you? He or she probably doesn’t either.
As I dropped my son off at school today, I said a little prayer that all the hours he put into studying pays off when he takes his tests later in the day. As I was pulling away I thought of all the tragedies that have happened over the last few years. Who would ever think when you drop off your kid at school that some maniac could show up to harm them? Why our kids? Why the precious souls who we protect and nurture from the time they are just a tiny pea inside our growing bodies? I get so crazy about all the stress and grades and the work that never seems to end but I can’t help but ask myself, does any of it even matter? Do I put so much emphasis and attention on the things that really don’t matter that I am missing my opportunity to take advantage of the things that should? Is it okay for our lives to be cell phones and school work and never take the time for laughter, sharing and just spending time together? Life is so short and each day is so unexpected. You never know what is coming from one minute to the next and that is our wake up call to use our time in the most valuable way. Hug your babies when they leave for school today. Hug your spouse, call your mom and take the time to look at them and appreciate them like you will never see them again. See them now, today while you still can.
i have a plaque on my wall. My mother bought it for me during one of her visits. It says, Mom, the glue that holds it all together. Often times I wonder if maybe that’s why I become unglued so easily. I exhaust my strength and supply trying to hold the weight of the world and sometimes I forget to take care of myself. My mind is always someplace else like with my daughter while she takes her algebra exam or my husband while he sits down to dinner for an important business meeting. I know everyone’s schedule by heart, I know every grade, every doctor appointment, every dentist appointment. I know when everyone is happy and when something has happened to make someone sad. I know it all, the good, bad and ugly and I never seem to be able to disconnect. I am like the heart of the family, keeping it flowing and surviving and functioning so that everyone can live easier. Moms put in so much time. Their job ever ends and often goes very late into the night. Our thoughts even linger into our dreams especially when we are worried about something going on with our child. We often go unappreciated and thank you’s are sometimes few and far between. Still, we sacrifice and love unconditionally with each and every breath we take. We are moms. The pay is lousy but the payoff is worth more than any amount of gold. That’s just what moms do, hold everyone and everything together even when we are falling apart. We really are like glue, don’t you think?
The other day there was a video floating around that I happened to watch. It was a group of moms that described how they saw themselves as mothers. They were brutally hard on themselves and mentioned some commonalities that made them feel really bad about themselves. As I listened to the things they said, I thought, wow, I think those same things about myself too. They mentioned their lack of patience and the frequent times they responded to their kids in ways they weren’t proud of. The thing is this, once something comes out of our mouths, we cannot take it back. People may not always remember a positive reaction or our kind words. One thing is for sure though, they will never forget your hurtful actions or harsh words.
I thought about this for awhile. I have so much guilt. I can’t tell you the number of times that I have said something to my kids I sincerely regret. We are all human though. We often think without speaking and then move on. We leave those words on the minds and hearts of our children that over time will start to scar.
The good news is, that same video showed the kids of these moms describing their moms in their own words. They said all kinds of great things about their moms. Many even called them heroes. My son told me he may have said those same things when he was little, but now that he was older he sees things differently. He does not see me as a superhero. He sees me as a human being that acts in both ways he admires and abhors. I let my 11 year old son watch and I asked him to describe me. And, with a very heavy heart, I listened to every single word, hoping he would overlook the bad, and somehow, point out the good. That’s not the way it played out that night. He didn’t overlook the bad and was brutally honest describing my role as his mother filled with positives along with obvious flaws. I’d like to tell you it didn’t hurt me deeply but it was a long sleepless night.
The next morning I took the challenge to not yell at my kids. Have I been successful? Not exactly! But I do catch myself in the act and immediately soften my tone. I remind myself, it takes a whole lot of good to override the bad. This is my chance. That’s the great thing about life you know, every morning is a new day and an opportunity to be different and make new choices. New choices lead to new results and then, after some time and trial and error, we see change. Wish me luck on my new adventure because I can assure you I am going to need it. I am up for the challenge though and am excited to see how quickly my relationships change. I may even videotape my own kids in a few months to see what they have to say.