I have been a mother since I was 16 years old. I have given birth to four kids, miscarried one child and been the step-mother to three. I now have two grandchildren and I’m almost 40 years old. This is what I have learned about mothering/parenting children: I have no effing clue what I’m doing.
There are a lot of factors that made me think I was a horrible mother. I did a lot of things that weren’t things responsible parents do, like marry a man I only knew for two weeks and have kids with him right away. I drank a lot. I worked at Hooters and then bars. I slept around after my divorce from the man that I married after only knowing for two weeks (who didn’t see that divorce happening?). I spanked my kids, I didn’t help with homework, I was never part of the PTA (well, I was once and it was a disaster), I let them listen to rap music and play video games. Not to mention all the R rated movies they have seen in their lifetimes! Lord knows that I was not even close to being what most people consider to be a good mom. I was sure that all of these things were going to cause my kids to be horrible human beings once I started hanging out with good moms and comparing myself to them.
The truth is there is nothing that we can do as parents to make our kids have problem free lives. We can’t guarantee anything for them. They are their own people, with their own dreams and illnesses and free will to make their own choices in life. They also have their own perspective about things that happened to them or around them as children and are free to deal with those memories however they want, even if it’s in ways that hurt them.
Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of things that have caused issues with my kids that I could have prevented. But then they would just have some other problems. I have friends who have money, a strong faith, a stable marriage and love their kids more than any child could ask for and some of their children still wonder off to do their own thing. I have friends who have public schooled, Catholic schooled, homeschooled and everything in between and still have kids with issues. Not because the parents were bad parents at all, but because free will is one strong mofo.I used to be able to give out parenting advice thinking that I knew what I was talking about, but now I really have no advice to give other than to pray a lot. I have no clue what I’m doing. I know that I have no control over what my children do once they are adults and there are times when that is really scary because I am still their mother and want to keep them safe, but at some point that is no longer in my control. There is no magic formula that is going to change that.
I was a terrible child. There were reasons why, but it doesn’t change the grief that I put my mother through. I ran away, I slept with grown men when I was a teen, I got pregnant, I skipped school, I threw fits, I stole the car and on and on. I left home when I was 18 and ended up married to a stranger. I survived. Not only did I survive, but I made it back to God. He never gave up on me. The one thing that I know for sure is that He was always with me. I can look back now on all of those things and see exactly where He was.
So yeah, my only advice is to love your kids, hold on to Jesus and pray a lot. Oh and buy wine. But everything else? Where you send them to school, what you feed them, what kind of clothes you buy for them and all that? Nope, don’t ask me. I have no advice to give other than do what you feel is best for your own family.
Being a mother is hard enough without all the added pressure put on moms today to be perfect so that we can create these perfect kids. That’s impossible.
God will also be with us in those times when our parent heart breaks because our kids are making stupid choices in life. Don’t kid yourself into thinking that other people don’t have those issues with their kids, they do. My kids are great people and they each have their own issues that should embarrass me, but they don’t because I know that they are not a reflection of my worth as a mother. I loved them, that is what I was supposed to do. They are each responsible for their own choices at some point. I am not in control of anyone by myself. That’s the hardest parenting lesson that I had to learn.
Do/did you love your kids? Do you feed them? Do/did they have everything they need to be loved and safe? Do/did you take an active role in their education? Do/did you do the best you could to mother them? If your answers are “yes”, then you are a great mother. The end.