I have been a mom for 25 years. That’s over half my life. Damn.
Every day I wonder if I’m doing it right? Am I being the best mom I can? Am I teaching my children life’s important lessons, like play well with others, be nice to people, and always wear clean underwear and socks without holes? Will my children remember the Fun Mom times and not the time I yelled for 17 minutes because someone left their bookbag on the stairs when I’ve told you 9,000 times not leave things on the stairs because someone could TRIP! and FALL! and BUST THEIR HEAD OPEN! and when you do, don’t come crying to me when you’re concussed and bleeding because I TOLD YOU 9,000 TIMES…
Every night I pray that in between the ranting and yelling, my kids were aware that they were loved and cherished. And I go to sleep thinking, “tomorrow I’ll be more patient, more understanding, less of a yeller…”
And then I trip over someone’s bookbag.
I am quite sure that at some point during my 17-minute rants, my children were looking at me, pretending to be fully engrossed in what I was imparting to them, but really thinking “why does she keep yelling about the same thing? I get it, I heard you, but I forgot. Jeez, we all make mistakes!”
Yes, that’s right, we all make mistakes. As moms, we want the best for our children which includes not watching our children make the same mistakes we did. We are older, wiser, we’ve been kids/teenagers/young adults and we screwed up. Royally, in some cases. And we remember the pain that we felt or that we caused by those mistakes. We want nothing more than to shield our kids from pain. We suffered and we don’t want you to as well. We beg them - learn from our mistakes, please!
But our children don’t believe that we were ever young and dumb – okay, young – and they will blithely carry on doing the same things we did, and all we can do is try to tell them, but ultimately we have to watch them stumble and fall. And we hope that they get up, look over at us and say “wow, you were right!”
Children start feeling grateful for their parents right about the time they have their own children. I remember being at my parents’ house with Jessica when she was about 2. She kept poking at the screen door, even after I told her 9,000 times not to poke it. Finally I smacked her hand and oh my word the sobbing that commenced from that child. She flung herself into my arms, so contrite and cried, “I sowwy momma! I sowwy!!” Oh for the love of cheese, what’s a mom supposed to do? As I hugged her, I looked over her shoulder at my dad, who was thoroughly enjoying the show. He just said “yep, now you know.” Yep, I damn sure did. At that moment, I realized my parents had been right all along. My dad knew I’d figure it out eventually, even if it took 20 years. And then I realized I had 20 more years of yelling in front of me.
Even when my parents got on me, I knew that they loved me. If they didn’t love me, they wouldn’t have cared if I made my bed, hung up my laundry or left my shoes under the table. They wouldn’t have disciplined me and made me a better person through their lessons and lectures, which I finally appreciated once I became a parent.
I always told my girls that I loved them, whether it was at the end of a phone call, before they went to bed, or just walking by them in the kitchen. I might have been fed up with them earlier, but it didn’t change the fact that I loved them, always and forever. I hope and pray that they knew it, because I ran out of time to tell Jessica and Kelli once more.
On this Mother’s Day weekend, I say thank you to Jessica, Kelli and Madelyn. Because of you three, I would have gone through life never knowing unconditional, irrevocable love. I would never have experienced the joy of having a sweet-smelling fuzzy-headed infant snuggled on my chest, sleeping soundly. I would have missed feeling so thankful for a construction paper flower with I Love You Mom written in slanting capital letters. I would have missed watching you grow from babies to little girls into strong, beautiful young women.
Thank you for making me a mom. Thank you for pretending to listen to me when I yelled. Thank you for the hugs, even when we fought. Thank you for making me a better person. Thank you for being great kids. Thank you for the love.