I never anticipated being a parent. I was not one of those little girls who dreamed of getting married and raising a family some day. I was a child of the 60’s
and 70’s, caught in that vortex between the Beaver Cleaver 1950’s and the angst of the women’s liberation movement. I thought I had to grow up and BE someone, DO something important. Having a family was not on my radar.
But then I fell in love and soon after my daughter came into the world and instantly changed my life! When she was born, they laid her warm, wet body on my chest and something shifted atomically in me. I could never have imagined loving someone as deeply and fully as I loved her from the very first moment I laid eyes on her.
There is absolutely no way to explain this deep, achy love. But other mothers need no explanation, they completely understand.
As my daughter grew up I did some things right but I also made a TON of mistakes! I yelled when I should have stayed calm, pushed her to do and achieve when I should have backed off, I was lenient when I should have been firm and firm when I should have been lenient.
So, of course, I felt my share of guilt. This mothering business can really be hard.
Every time I lost my temper or my patience I would apologize but still, there were many times I was convinced I was the worst mother in the world and that I had somehow done her irreparable damage. What I couldn’t see at the time was that she didn’t NEED me to be perfect; she just needed me to be me.
My daughter grew into the most amazing young woman I have ever known, despite my blunders. So what went right?
Not too long ago, when my daughter was pregnant, we were talking about raising children and I was sharing with her how, as a child, I always felt isolated and alone. I asked her if she ever felt that way as a little girl. My heart sang when she said “No, not at all. I always knew I was deeply loved.”
Being loved is what she remembers, not my mistakes. That’s what went right.
So this is what I’ve learned. Loving your children and accepting them for who they are with all of their imperfections, and you with all of yours, is the key.
There is no such thing as a perfect parent and you will drive yourself and your children crazy trying to be one. You just have to do your best knowing full well that you will make mistakes, you will lose your temper and sometimes you will wish you could launch your kids off into outer space! And that is OK. Only if your child is the “perfect” child do you need to worry about being a “perfect” parent.