Since I use this blog to document our family life together, I want to remember this lesson and share it with my mom friends who check in on our family blog occasionally.
Some women are born to be mothers. I know lots of women like this and find them amazing. While my husband and family might disagree with me, I never considered myself “born to be a mom.” I distinctly remember telling my parents in high school, “If I never get married or have kids, I will be perfectly fine with that. I don’t define my worth or success in that, and will find happiness in my life regardless. I just wanted you to know that.” I am sure it is not what they wanted to hear (or maybe my independence made them proud), but it is true. That is of course, until I fell in love with Brian and desperately wanted to have children with him and parent together. When Brian had THE lunch with my dad where he explained that he wanted to marry me, apparently they spent the majority of the luncheon talking about my faults – specifically, my impatience, strong will, etc. There are no two men that love me more and know me better. When they both told me this, I whole-heartedly agreed and confirmed that I was glad Brian knew what he was signing up for. 😉 After all, he does love those traits in me for a variety of reasons. In fact, he has come to rely on those traits in some ways.
Becoming a mother has not been a natural road for me. My former boss, who is a mom I have always admired, explained to me when I was pregnant with Preston that “you will learn more about yourself than you can ever imagine.” So true. God has worked hard over the last three years to shape our hearts for this thing called parenting. We are a work in progress, but we are getting it. As my child grows and becomes more aware of the world and more desperate for guidance, I am starting to fully understand the magnitude of my example to my child.
Lately, we have been experiencing some rockier moments as parents. Trying to help our 3-year-old figure out the ways of the world is no small feat for him (is it easy for anyone?). Remember those traits I mentioned in myself earlier? Well, apparently, those traits can be passed on. In meetings with teachers and others, the one statement they all say is “He has really good parents. He is going to turn out all right. You are doing everything right.” Really? Are we really? Man, are we trying hard. At least you notice.
As Brian and I work to parent by example, we have instituted some rules in our home. If we are kind at all times, then our children will know kindness. Kindness/respect to adults is different than kindness/innocence to a child. We try our hardest to hold all adult conversations (anything regarding work, personal life conflicts, gossip, sarcasm, funny stories – the stuff of our friendship and marriage) until after 8:30 p.m. when children are fast asleep. Did we used to do this? No. Is it exhausting to have to be so thoughtful? Yes. We are required to have more self-awareness & respect for one another at ALL times – we have no choice if we want our children to turn out as good people. I find myself constantly talking through “grays” – never take things at face value, always step in someone else’s shoes (just because that’s how YOU would want things, doesn’t mean that’s how YOUR FRIEND wants it). Are we offering him the chance to make diverse friends with diverse backgrounds? Are we teaching him patience and compassion? This is the stuff of parenting. Some days I want to go back to when he was 18 months old and the hardest part of parenting was making sure he sat on his bottom in the bath tub. 😉
There is a blog that I love to read that speaks so eloquently of the struggles and triumphs of parenthood. She once said “We fail and we nail it, over and over again every day.” I can’t think of a better sentiment. I visited my mom at lunch today at her school. She is a middle school teacher. We were eating when I noticed a 6th grade girl, crying at the lunch table with a small group of girls. My mom said “Friend drama.” I think my heart stopped beating. I immediately envisioned Margo in that position and instantly got knots in my stomach. I’ve been there. I know she will be there one day. Whether they are in 6th grade or they are 3 years old, at home or at school, life can be tough and some days, the hand you are dealt isn’t the easiest.
I say this because, will it get easier one day? Moments will be easier, moments will be harder. It know it will get different, but when you become a parent, you are a parent forever. My children are loved so deeply by Brian and me. My hope is that over time, with lots of work, certain faults will subside and we’ll become better versions of ourselves and our children will be better for it.
I say all this, because I’m amazed at how I am not alone in my struggles. After confiding in my two best friends from high school, who are also moms, they immediately confided in me about their parenting insecurities, life struggles, etc. The practical person in me knows that we all struggle. At a recent wedding we attended, the priest said “marriage was not created by God to make you happy.” I thought the same could be applied to parenting. He said “marriage is about helping the person you chose to spend your life with get to heaven.” Again, when applied to parenting, that is the best we can do.