Friday, May 22, 2009

Thers's no parenting manual?

I often question my parenting. Am I too laid back? Am I too hard on the kids? What do I do now? Am I teaching my children well? What if I screw them up? I suppose it is natural to have these thoughts as a parent, but they plague me because this is something truly important...okay, so I am the master of the obvious! But seriously, I want my children to grow up with good morals and manners, self-confidence but not arrogance, the ability to make good choices out of respect to themselves and others, compassion, ambition, sensibility, a drive to succeed (but not to the point where life is nothing but work, work, work!), an openness to allow their hearts to love...I guess pretty much what every mother wants for her children. And I am afraid to make too many mistakes. But where is my manual?

Working with preschoolers prior to having my own children gave me the experience I needed with young children, but could never have prepared me for having my own. No one could tell me what to expect when I was expecting, and honestly, I really did not want to listen anyway. I knew it would be an experience that I would have to go into alone, and that only becoming a parent and experiencing it firsthand would teach me what I needed to know. I only hoped that I could use some of what my parents have taught me that has helped me in my life and mold it into my own parenting skills. I guess I have done that, but it is not enough to put my mind at ease.

I know the world is a cruel place, although I love seeing it through my children's eyes. I love to see the innocence and the trust that only a young child can experience from lack of experience. That is never something I tire of. But I know I must do my part to prepare Coulby and Caroline for the world that is waiting for them, which is often not at all what I would like it to be. True, there is good in this world, and I have experienced and witnessed it firsthand. I want my children to be people who bring even more good into the world. Even just two people can make a difference. And I guess that is what bothers me so much. That I am responsible for guiding them into adulthood to become the do-gooders that I want them to be.

Every time I lose my patience I feel like I have let them down. When I am not paying enough attention to them, or when I do not seize a moment to enlighten them, or I miss a praiseworthy moment, I feel like I am letting them down. There are so many times when I have let an opportunity come and go and then I later wish I could turn back the hands of time. The reality of it all is that this is going to happen no matter how hard I try to keep it from happening. Because I am human. And I am a mother. And both of these realities are against me because neither humans nor mothers are perfect. Although some of us like to think we are! Ha!

I have learned that there is nothing I can do but try my best to be a good mother and person, and hope this will result in two kids who grow into a beautiful young man and woman. I see their personalities coming out more and more with each day that passes, and I see the person each is becoming. I smile when I get a "please" or a "thank you," or when Coulby or Caroline go out of their way to do something far beyond their years. I guess those are the moments to cling to. Those are the moments to build upon.

As I drove Coulby around on my father-in-law's newest toy, a gator, the other day, he looked at me with this smile on his face that just showed how pleased he was to be riding beside me; just the two of us. He said, "I love you, mommy," which made me just about break down in tears. Just the simplicity of it--that he was feeling that way at that moment and expressed himself without prompting or hesitation was enough for me to feel like maybe I am not doing such a bad job after all. Of course I am sure that one day I will hear the, "I hate you, mom," that so many mothers before me have heard, but I hope that it will be because I am making a decision that he will one day thank me for, realizing that it was in his best interest. I have been there myself with my own mother, who did not always make the most popular decisions, but always made them with me in mind, as I discovered later in my life. And how did she know she was doing the right thing then? I guess maybe she was winging it too, just like me. So maybe there is hope after all...

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