A little sorrow, a few headaches, and lots of bliss have defined the last 13 years of parenthood. I’m only 33 and yet I look back on those pure, sweet days with absolute delight. I miss that period of time and I miss babies; the cuddles, tiny feet, small hands, giggles, and radiant smiles.
It all goes by so quickly, in some ways, too quickly, but the journey is a joy, and a privilege.
In a few short years my first born will be driving; in five she’ll be in college and I’ll be 38, and my husband, 39.
I shouldn’t look back but I do; those were magical times when we were all so young and had many dreams for the future and yet that future seemed so far away.
At present, my children and I can go out, laugh and have fun but I know I could have done better. I don’t want them to ever look back and think of their childhoods with regret.
While I lament things I haven’t done, it’s their time to be children. Their time, as it should be.
It can even be fun to be driving in the car with my oldest as she tries to apply her make-up and worry about the little things, much as I did when her age. Rachel’s life at present is filled with the trials of becoming a young woman and then there’s my middle child, Grayson, who dreams only of independence and horses, who possesses a quick mind and excellent debate skills. And, of course, my son, David, who knows only happiness and laughter and loves his mother and reveres his father.
Remembering is good, but staying there isn’t…
When I was a little girl I knew beyond a reasonable doubt how I would treat my future children. I just knew I was going to be their ‘friend’ and not be mean, demanding, or God forbid – embarrassing. No, I was going to do it right and my children were going to think I hung the moon.
Years later, with a thirteen-year-old in the house, I find myself at odds with her, and myself. How did I turn into this woman? A mother who raises her voice, loses her cool, sometimes lets a naughty word slip out, and even says hurtful things that she wishes she could take back. This can’t be me and, what’s worse is that my daughter probably thinks of me in some of the ways I thought of my own mother.
The challenging began with an innocent question, “Can I call you mom now, or is that going to make you sad?”
Then I found myself in the twilight zone wondering where my angelic little girl went – my precious first born who had always been so well-mannered, sweet, and good. Who is that stranger in my daughter’s room? What’s with the looks, messy room, and little white lies?
Instead of a princess I live with a sometimes combatant who in one breath can be as sweet and dear as she was, and in the next, push my buttons in such a way that I want to pack my bags and run away.
“You don’t understand me,” she says, and oh how that stings because once upon a time I felt the same way but was going to be different with my own children.
Then, I knew exactly how I would handle the situation. Now, I look through years of experience, reflection, regret; a mother’s vision; sometimes clouded but matured, and in many cases, developed in such a way that being able to understand what was is no more.
It might seem like a tragedy but can be enlightening, for both of us. It’s how we react to our differences, now, that will determine how we get along in the future.
When she was little I felt like a good mother. Now, though, I don’t like what I see, or sometimes do. This journey of motherhood has been edifying to say the least. When I had only myself to worry about I felt like a good person. Through motherhood, I have seen a side of myself that I either loved or hated. Truthfully, in some instances, I felt good about myself until I had kids because prior to having children, there was no real challenge, no way of seeing what was inside of me – as a person.
The depths of emotion weren’t even fully realized before I had kids. I never worried so much, loved so much, or cried so much until I was responsible for the lives of others.
And as I witness the medley of emotions in my daughter, I can catch a glimpse of how I was at 13; intimidated by life, unsure of myself, wanting to fit in instead of standing out, hoping the nice boy next to me would think I was worthy of being asked out, thinking the world revolved around me, and knowing that I was right and everyone else was wrong because I had all the answers.
So how do I handle what I brought forth so many years ago?
I often pray to God, “Jesus, please put your arm around my shoulders and your hand over my mouth.”
Nothing fractures the spirit like poisonous invective and who wants to be responsible for that? As close as my daughter and I are, and as good as she is most of the time, she’ll continue to anger me, challenge me, and frustrate me to the point of tears but I can encourage her and be there for her unconditionally until I draw my last breath.
Everything else is trial and error but when she’s home, she knows she’s protected in comfort, and the safest place of refuge should always be in a mother’s heart.