As Mother’s Day approaches I am reminded about how bad I feel for my kids. Not because they don’t have what they need or because of any of their current struggles, but rather because my mom was way more on the ball than their mom can even pretend to be. My first thought around mother’s day is which plant I will order for my own mother. I seem to forget that I apparently should be honored too. My first-born will only be 18 next week, so I guess I’m still getting used to the idea of being the mom.
I was the kid who always had her permission slips, milk money, or any random piece of paperwork turned in well before the deadline. Mine was the mom who baked cupcakes for my class on my birthday, volunteered for all the field-trips, and gave every stray kid she came across a ride home. She showed interest in all my activities and made sure I had everything I needed before I needed it. Up until high school when I started driving and sports ate up most evenings, the clear majority of my meals were consumed sitting at the dinner table with my parents and whichever of my brothers were at those points in life when you move back home for a bit. With little to no help from me, our home was always presentable, inviting, and comfortable.
I’m not a big fan of the Freudian explanation of behavior, but in this case I agree with him and blame my mom for all my failures as a mother. Stick with me here. I never had to stress or worry about much of anything, so now my impulse is to not stress or worry about much of anything. Everything that needs to get done will get done … sooner or later.
More than once this year I have ordered my children’s sports necessities roughly 10 minutes before the on-line deadline. I’ve been guilty of putting dirty uniforms in the dryer to “freshen them up” on game days. I have never baked cupcakes or a cake for my kids’ birthdays, but I do know the best ones to order (or pick up last second) from Chief’s. As far as dinner around the family table – well, my current excuse is that one of the legs on the dining room table has been compromised. Yes, we are scared to even touch it much less eat at it. Finally, let’s just say that I do have times when my home is less than presentable.
My Mom, No Excuses
It wasn’t until I was older when I learned more about my mother’s childhood. She told me about her family’s addictions and how those addictions took precedence over most of her wants and even needs. After they met, her eventual husband and my father stepped up for her financially more than once. She told me how he bought her yearbook her last year in school because that never would have made the priority list in her household.
It became her calling to make sure that my brothers and I never had to worry about our basic needs. She even did her best to get us most of our wants. I never met my grandmother, but I have heard that everyone loved her – she was kind, loving, and fun. My mother loved her mother dearly, but clearly despised the addiction.
Here’s the thing. Even though we come from very different backgrounds and have different styles of parenting, both my mother and I are considered by most to be “good mothers”. However, all mothers, including “good mothers”, carry guilt.
My fear is that my kids will have deep seeded insecurities because of my sometimes less than on-the-ball attitude toward yet another piece of paperwork. If only I had my stuff together like my mom. On the flip-side, I remember my mother sharing that she feared she “ruined me” by doing too much. She was scared that I would have difficulty taking care myself once I moved out. Was she right? Kind of. In my defense, it only took a couple roommate meetings in college until I figured out that I needed to shape up or they were going to boot me to the curb.
As mothers, we can only do the best that we can. Chances are that if we love our kids with everything we have and then do our best to keep them out of harm’s way, they will turn out exactly the way they are meant to be.