...Continued from "Ode to Motherhood Part 1: Call Me What You Want; They Call Me 'Mom.'"
My own mother, someone I only see once a year, said something that has stuck with me after my third child was born: "They are so self-sufficient, non-needy and independent. That means they get enough." They. Get. Enough. For all my faults, many of which haven't been kept secret like your own may be, I accept full accountability, but when it comes to these kids, I am truly convicted and have nearly bent myself in half to assure they aren't burdened or exposed to any negativity (meant for me).
My goal is to teach them about fallibility, but also integrity. There is a choice in how to react to the things that happen to us, self-inflicted or not. I try to show them grace. Even if indirectly, my hope is that they notice. If not, at least they are not witness to the opposite-bitterness, blame, fury, or moping. Believe me, I am tempted to shut-down and sulk some days. Doing so, is not an option. I do not, have not, and will not raise my voice. I validate their fragile and fickle emotions in little, easily overlooked moments. I use almost any situation as a teaching moment. I always listen and it's mutually beneficial.
I build them up, but I have always been honest. I'm that mom who won't let them win just to "be nice." I know now, more than ever, that life will not participate in that farce. I am very fair, but I do not pump them with false praise or meaningless participation ribbons. Is parenting not to prepare them with the best and most valuable tools and rules of life?
Instead, I ask "Hmm... I love the colors, and your effort, what is that?" where others may say, "Wow! It's beautiful!" as canned as they say, "How are you?" darting off, without waiting for a response. I believe monumental memories in a childhood are when a boy beats his dad at H-O-R-S-E with a hoop and ball in the driveway. A man can remember the first time he truly threw a spiral to his dad. If all his fumbling tosses were praised, is that small feat as distinguishable?
I believe that NOT telling my oldest daughter she was "awesome" at every sport was fair and honest. She would lay prostrate on a soccer field. She'd pick flowers behind right field in t-ball. She has zero interest in competition, unless with her little sister. That was difficult, I was patient -- not an easy task for me. Her greatest trait is compassion.
Oh, but when she truly started singing? With a falsetto purity that is chill-inducing? I went bonkers! She trusts me. Her own instincts now qualified. More importantly, she understands a fundamental life fact: you won't be good at everything... so find your "thing." And find it she did!
I have been blessed enough to have female friends of varying ages and culture. The empty-nesters remind me how soon I will be smelling their pillows when they go to college or begging my 12-year-old son to hold my hand. I get it. I do not complain. Instead I try to relish the small things, revel in the beauty of this little brood I created and get challenged by daily (if not hourly,) and I feel only gratitude. I feel convicted to serve, protect and love them ferociously.
I am more things then you'll ever know. I am too much to handle. The non-debatable passion I have for writing comes from the same inner voice that needs no validation from anyone. The voice of inner conviction assures my confidence in how to mother these three very different people.
I am flawed but fearless. I am lost and I have lost so much, but these four words stand sturdy:
I am a mother.
Check back for the last compartment of this series, "The Magnificent, (albeit Messy) Living Masterpiece."
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