Updated: Nov 9, 2021
As a mother, I have had to reconcile how I thought being a mother would be with the reality of “real life.” Are there things that I wish could have gone differently? Heck yeah! Absolutely! Do I believe it will affect the tipping of the scales held by Archangel Michael or Anubus, resulting in me ending up in you know where? NOPE!
I am on the older side of motherhood; I was 35 years young when our son, Alex, was born. I had returned to college full-time to earn my teaching certificate in Early Childhood at the University of Rhode Island. I tell you this because I was in school and then developing my career when our son grew up. I felt “mom guilt.” Deeply. For me, it started with sending Alex to daycare. I was so close to completing my degree and wanted to finish school. Alex going to daycare was a good thing. He learned social skills that him being at home, he wouldn’t have had a chance to develop.
I never genuinely understood parenting until I had a child of my own. I wanted to be a parent. I had watched many people parent. Their styles varied, not one more successful than any other. I knew something “magical” happened when you were a parent versus a caregiver to children. I was curious about what it was. And Alex taught me a lot! (This is the “magical” part I was talking about.) When he was a toddler, he bit another child at the daycare. I understood what parents went through when they heard negative news about their children. When it happened a second time, I approached it from my knowledge as a parent and a daycare provider. We worked it out as a team.
I waited to have my son because I knew I did not have what it takes to be a single parent. I wanted to parent with someone. I have a lot of admiration for single parents; I know I would fail miserably. So, when on our first official date, my husband David said, “I have always said I want to flip for who gets to stay home with the children.” I was in love! (Really, there is a lot more to it, that is for another time.) David had an active part in Alex’s life. I didn’t sweat Alex and David getting dressed up in full winter clothes to go outside to play in the snow in the dark. I did worry that I wasn’t home every time Alex was sick because I didn’t have sick days. However, David did have the time, and our son benefited. I hope he witnessed both of his parents working together to raise him. Did I feel guilty I wasn’t there? Yes! Have I since let that go? Yes, because feeling sorry for not being there takes away from what did happen. Our son learned through actions from someone who loves him.
David and I learned to let Alex fall when he learned how to walk. We would encourage him to get back up when he needed it and teach him how if Alex didn’t know. We applied this same idea to school, sports, and other areas of life. When we couldn’t teach him ourselves, we got help from others. We enlisted the help of Alex’s grandparents, aunts, uncles, and friends. As much as I wanted to control it all, it just wasn’t possible. I forgive myself. No guilt necessary.
Lastly, I refuse to feel guilty for sharing affection or starting discussions in front of Alex and then excusing him from the room. It is healthy for children to see their parents express their love for each other, holding hands, exchanging a smooch, or dancing in the kitchen. It is equally important for children to know their parents don’t perceive everything the same way. Discussion is something to engage with thoughtfully and learn from so we can make different decisions in the future. Even if that looks and feels like a tornado from the outside (That’s all me!) AND that it is okay to walk away if it is not your battle. The adults can handle it. And as he has gotten older, his involvement in conversations concerning him has evolved.
Overall, I hope our son knows he is truly loved. We want him to be a part of our family. His family will always be there for him. I hope he knows he can play and work well with others. Following and being present on his path is essential to a balanced life. I leave you with one of my favorite quotes.
“Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.”
On Children, Kahlil Gibran