Perhaps losing my mother when I was 16 intensified my desire to have a family, but whatever it was, I totally obsessed about the day someone would call me "Mom."
Scary parenting stories failed to dampen my anticipation. I was one of the happiest pregnant women ever. Even finding out I needed a C-section was okay with me, as long as I would still bring home a baby. That's all I cared about.
I was not part of the group that would groan when summer vacation started, counting the days till school would resume in the fall. I was the mom, if you'll forgive me, who actually cried walking away from the bus stop. And many years later, the mom who heard, "I'm not dying; I'm just moving out."
So how do I feel now that my children are old enough to have children of their own? I still love being a mom, and I have the added bonus of being a grandma too, which has prompted me to review my job performance as a mom. Looking back, I see things I would have done differently. For one, I wouldn't have believed the following myths.
Good parents keep a clutter-free house
Most of us are taught that houses need to look magazine perfect. The truth is that houses that are lived in get cluttered. I cringe when I think back to my obsession with a neat house when my kids were little. As soon as play time was over, the toys had to be put back in place. Sometimes I wouldn't even let them finish playing. I put more emphasis on my house than on my child.
When my own children matured, the house became less cluttered, but it became emptier too. I've reached a stage in life when I am once again picking up toys. But I'm finding that these same toys that used to raise my blood pressure now cause me to smile, because I am thinking of my grandsons and some of their conversations during play. Now, as I pick up a stray book, I remember my grandsons, Jude and Charlie, smiling when I read a certain page, or asking me to read it one more time, please. So, today I put up with Matchbox cars, Legos, and other evidence of play because it means there's a child in here somewhere.
I've learned that my house is the place where I live; it is not who I am.
Good parents must always be right
One day etched in my memory, I was head-to-head with my son. Finally, through clenched teeth, I managed to ask him, "Why must you be right?"
He responded, with clenched teeth (must have learned that from his father), "Because you have to be right."
I sensed God watching that moment. Words were unnecessary. I got the message loud and clear, and from that moment on, being "right" lacked the luster it once held for me.
The result was a less resistant relationship—something I would have missed had I not conceded my need to always be right. The cost of your child is too high a price to pay. Choose your battles carefully.
I also learned new words I had never heard as a child, such as, "I was wrong; I'm sorry." Children respect parents who admit they are human, and children can be very forgiving.
We think we want totally compliant children, but total compliance is deceiving. I was a child who outwardly complied to her parents' wishes, following every request or demand, while inwardly building resentment. It took me years to work through that resentment.
Good parents produce good children
Here, the word "good" may be open to interpretation, but the main idea is that we think, If I do everything I should do, the results will be favorable.
Adam and Eve are a good example of how that doesn't necessarily work. Surely they didn't raise Cain and Abel so differently, yet one day they buried their son, Abel, who was killed by his brother, Cain. We have no guarantees, but thankfully we have a good God who is in control when we are not.