If only I'd known then what I know now.
| posted 10/11/2011
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."
Learn more through: Developing the Spiritual Life of Children.
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.