Thursday, October 17, 2013

7 Things My Mother Got Right

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I was talking to a fellow parent at my sons' school yesterday about how much we appreciate the struggles the women in our family went through now that we are mothers, and all the pressures there are on mothers now. While society has increased the expectations, we both felt like children and mothers had a stronger place in society than in previous generations.  When we looked back at our grandparents and parents, the fact that they didn't kill off all their offspring while parenting in a society that didn't really support mothers is amazing. The only advantage they had over us was being able to send the kids out to play, watched only by the dog. 

We can't just banish our herd of children outside to play, we have to make sure they speak a minimum of 5 languages, play 3 sports, 1 instrument, and drive them to all of these places. Outside is scary, and unsupervised has become criminal. Dogs are no longer considered adequate babysitters.

Mothers are always thinking about theories of parenting, about how to raise the best kids they possibly can, and beating themselves up with guilt if they don't give their children every opportunity. 

As I age and as I struggle to raise my own kids and balance my life with parenting, I have gained a little perspective about mothers in general, my own in particular.  Whereas as a teenager I thought she did everything wrong, I can now appreciate how my mother got the most important parts of parenting right. 

Here's a list of the 7 things my mother nailed, and still continues to nail even though i am 40 and she's probably sick of parenting by now:

1. I always know I am loved, no matter what I do or what mess I get into, I know that not only will my mother still love me, she will always help me find my way out.

2. I always know my mother understands my soul. I never worry than my mother will look down on me for my housecleaning or for living in sweatpants. She is the least superficial person I know.

3. I know that if my mother doesn't understand where I am at in life, she wants to. She will talk to me until she understands. She will never shut me out or refuse to talk to me. 

4. My mother will always give me the benefit of the doubt. If i seem to be doing something stupid, she will wait to hear my side. She trusts that I know what i am doing even when I don't look line I know what I am doing.

5. My mother always thinks I am beautiful. Even when I gain weight, get bad haircuts, get the flu and don't shower for days, or make unfortunate fashion decisions. She always tells me I am beautiful,  and even if I don't believe her, I know she believes it.  

6. My mother will treat anything I am excited about with enthusiasm. My mother totally believes I am capable of doing anything I set my mind to, and will cheer me on whatever path I choose to take. 

7. My mother will listen with an open heart to whatever political or spiritual views I am embracing, even if they are contrary to her own.  When I voted against her in my first presidential election, all she said was, "I'm so glad you exercised your right to vote. That's all that I care about, " and she actually meant it. 

When I look at how I am parenting my own children and how passionately I feel about parenting and simultaneously how terrified I am that i am failing my boys, I try and remember that these seven things are really what matters. If I can do that, they will be okay. Everything else is gravy. 

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