“We should no longer allow a mother to be defined as ‘just a mom.’ It is on her back that great nations are built. We should no longer allow any woman’s voice to be drowned out or disregarded. As we affirm other women, and as we teach our sons, husbands and friends to hold them in the highest regard, we honor both the mothers whose shoulders we’ve stood on and the daughters who will one day stand tall on ours.” Oprah
I remember an argument with my Father during my “know it all University student days” studying to become a teacher. I lashed out at him for spanking me ONCE! I mean, I was in the middle of taking Child Developement courses and ALL the text books would portray the perfect family. How an authoritative parent is better than an authoritarian parent or permissive parent. How yelling, screaming, and belittling will scar a child for life, spanking was a redundant and destructive way to discipline a child, AND giving in and not being a consistent parent was a “no no”.
So much stuff to remember. Is there a test?
My father stood his ground stating that I was out of control, and that spanking was the only way! Was he right, probably not. Do I agree with spanking, no. Have I ever spanked my children, yes!… and yes dad, I forgive you.. I understand now.
We have all these ideals in our minds about how “motherhood” is this blissful place where puppies and unicorns live, and that our time with our children, the whole 18 years plus they live with us, will be grand. Oh.. and I swore to myself I will never EVER yell, scream or spank my kids. EVER!
Well guess what?
When my daughter arrived into the world (my first-born) I can honestly say that is was one of the most beautiful moments of my life. Just watching her in her little pink hat as she was laid next to me, admiring that she was mine. All my childhood doll playing days came up, and this one was alive! No, I am not comparing my daughter to a doll, well maybe a little, however, when 3rd week of 3 o’clock feedings came or when every single time I went to sit down to eat, she would wail so loud, we renamed her: Godzilla! (please google old Godzilla movies and find a video of it screaming she did sound exactly like that). The feelings of gooey love still came, however, these new “unknown” and unexpected feeling came too: frustration and resentment!
Nope, I didn’t resent my child (yet) I resented the fact that my whole life of “freedom” was in shambles. I was terrified and self-judgemental and I was afraid I was doing it all WRONG!
Sleep when she sleeps!
Right!! Worst advice ever! When she sleeps, I am busy washing clothes, bottles, and doing household chores. I am making dinner for the family and trying to find some time to watch tv and talk to my friends.
As the years passed, and my son came along, I quickly realized that all my motherhood fantasies went out the proverbial window. Woosh!
I am not being cynical, I am being truthful. I hated being pregnant, especially with my son, because I felt like a whale! I mean, he was almost 10 pounds when he was born. Sleepless nights did not end when they were babies, and tell me: “Why is my heart always on my sleeve?”
After taking at least 3 parenting classes, attending parent support groups and reading all the textbooks, I realized that I do not give myself enough credit as a mom. I was comparing. I bet you don’t either, if you are a man, do you give yourself enough credit as a dad?
Did you know self-centeredness is “normal” for a teen! Wow good news!
The other day I was in a support group talking about raising my teens. (If you think raising a toddler is challenging, wait until you raise a teen). Being a single parent, again, I try to set limits and show my children I am there even though I am going through a depression. The frustrating part is discovering that “Godzilla” is back, and my son is following right in her footsteps! The tantrums are different, and boy are they self-centered! So I am patient, kind, and ask them what they “need”. I ignore, nurture and am way over protective. I feed them, buy their favorite cereal, and throw in their laundry once and awhile. When I said to the social worker that day, how proud I was of my children since the separation. She asked “How proud are you of yourself? Kim, you do not give yourself enough credit! I think you are an amazing mom!!
“Me?? An amazing mom? What makes a mom amazing?”
But I yell, and scream, and take my own tantrums. I ignore and tell them when they are invading my space. I cry, swear and fart in front of them. I do not give them enough chores, and we don’t even do any activities like “normal” families. Plus I feed them way too much KD and peanut butter jelly sandwiches! They eat sugary cereal, and frozen pizza! How can I be an amazing mom?
“Because you listen”
See, we can sit here all day and compare ourselves to the “super-moms” of the world. I never was very good at balancing work and mothering. I was never good at being patient and calm. I do fly off the handle. But I love, encourage, nurture, praise and say “I’m proud of you” and “High five” when its time! I make their favorite foods, tuck them in (even at 13 and 15). I am honest and let them know my depression is not their fault. I don’t hide myself from them, and let them know exactly where I stand. I give them choices and let them choose.. I tell them that they are the master of their destiny.. that they decide where they are going in life. AND I know how to apologize when I’ve been wrong. And I listen. I would say, that listening to my children and what they have to say has been my lifeline. It works! I had to put my urge to “butt in” aside and let them know “I really do hear you and I understand”.
So.. technically, my job, is to grow them up to leave .. teach them how to be a good decent human being. Give them the tools to work it out themselves, and let go… see them, hear them, and praise them!
“This is motherhood; the sacrificing of one’s needs (but hopefully never one’s self) for another. It’s agreeing to let another consume more of you than any other relationship would dare. It’s giving without the expectation that you will receive. It’s unconditional love. And wouldn’t you know; it’s bloody hard!”
So, yes, my father did spank me once, my mother loved her wooden spoon, and I followed a bit in their footsteps. Yet, being a mother is a lifetime job, a job I wasn’t trained or certified for. My own mother taught me great nurturing and love, she also made me feel so comforted and she too “tucked me in” even as a teen.
These are the things my kids will remember, and these magical moments are the ones I hang onto.. but don’t be fooled by the myth of motherhood, just stand by and take in all the hugs and kisses you can get. It’s the good memories that will last in the end.
From me to you
Happy Mother’s Day!