Growing up, I felt misunderstood. I felt like I didn’t belong in my family.
I was the 3rd of 4 children and definitely had “middle child syndrome”. Little did I know as an adult, all I would want to do was say, “Thanks Mom!”
My mom was a hard worker and did the best she could with what she had. I don’t think my mom had any of her kids with the intention of giving less than she could. She truly wanted what was best for each of us.
Without much of a formal education, she had a limited view of what the world would look like for each of her kids.
When I became pregnant with my first son, I was petrified as to the type of mom I would be. I was 23 years old and pregnant, having NO clue of what it meant to be a parent. I felt I could barely take care of myself, much less another little person. I promised myself I would be the kind of parent my parents never were. For in my mind, they could have done so much better. I didn’t want my kids growing up to feel insecure or insignificant.
I wanted my kids to be secure, to know they could accomplish anything. I wanted them to give their best at all they did. I wanted them to experience all life could offer them. I didn’t want them to suffer. I wanted them to have what I didn’t as a latch key kid. I wanted my kids to have a parent who would listen to them. I wanted to be a parent who provided. I wanted to be a parent who hugged my child and told them how much I loved them. I wanted to do things for them. I wanted to make their lunches everyday. I wanted to drop them off and pick them up from school.
When I had my second child, I realized the craziness of having more than one child. How do I show my love to each of my children while not making the other one feel left out? Why does one seem smarter than the other? Why does one seem to be better at sports? Why does one catch on so much quicker? How do I not make one feel less than for not performing as I believed? Why was one more emotional than the other? I had so many questions and guess what? I did the best I could as a young mother.
After my third child, it got even more challenging. More schedules to keep. Less time for me. Less time for each child respectively. More personalities to deal with.
For me, my saving grace was a schedule. I had each of my kids on a strict schedule, especially close to bed. In the morning, I got everyone up, fed them, and got them off to school. My challenge: being present while my kids were growing up. There was so much to do, so much to organize. I had to hustle at work, keep the house, visit my parents (and in-laws), etc, etc, etc.
Dealing with all of this, I realized how much my own mom sacrificed in her life to make sure we were all taken care of. She didn’t want any of us to suffer either. Although, as we struggled we learned the taste of success through our own efforts. She wanted to bail us out of problems but really couldn’t. When we screwed up, we had to figure out how to get out of it since she didn’t have the resources to bail us out.
Ultimately, being a parent I learned acceptance is the highest form of love. Whether or not my children are a “success” by societies standards, I love each of them deeply. I learned forgiveness. I did the best I could, and for some of my kids it wasn’t good enough. That’s ok, they have a right to their opinion and their own story. I learned I can not take credit for their wins or their losses. I know I have had an influence in their life, however they are on their own journey. My kids are their own individual person. My ultimate wish for them is they would create pure joy in their life.
For many of us, we look at our parents and criticize how they raised us or how they speak to us today. Why not take a step back and realize, being a parent never came with a book on “How to be the Best Parent” and if it did, it was written for your sibling not you. We can all have excuses and blame our parents for our shortcomings however what good would that be? Many times our parents have their demons they are dealing with. Many don’t want to reveal their weaknesses to their own children and why should they? Young children are not meant to be a parents friend. The last thing your young child needs is to be your therapist or friend. Children thrive from discipline.
Love your parents, appreciate who they represented in your life. If you have no relationship with your parent, then love them regardless. I know what it feels like to be banned from the family and it doesn’t feel good. I never stopped loving anyone. I only knew I could not be around people who were toxic to my own life. It’s OK, not everyone has to support how I live or my choices. I can still love others regardless of their opinion of me.
If your parent has passed on or you no longer communicate with them, why not write them a letter apologizing for your part in the breakdown of the relationship? We all have responsibilities in a productive/unproductive relationship. Once the letter is written, you don’t have to deliver it however you could write it and release it.
Even if you had the “worst” parent ever, they represented something in your life. You don’t have to have them as a constant part of your life but forgiveness is the first step to you moving to a fulfilling life. Not for them but for you.
We have a Mother’s Day to celebrate mother’s and a Father’s Day to celebrate fathers. Yet, why not appreciate your parents daily. You don’t need a “Hallmark” holiday to recognize your parents. Most holidays are man-made to help people BUY BUY BUY. Who cares if it is a holiday or not? Love them unconditionally. One day they will be done from this lifetime and you won’t be able to get the time back you lost.
Part of creating a better you begins by creating better relationships with people around you!
Looking back, I can honestly say my mom was far from perfect however she was perfect for me. I know she did the best she could. I am so grateful for the mom she was and who she still represents in my life. She wasn’t the type to show affection or to say “I love you”. She was the type to work her ass off and make sure she provided. In essence, I turned out much like my mom.
And for that I’m thankful and proud. I love you Mom!
BE the best YOU at any age!