Welcome, Mamma Crew, to another chaotic, exciting, but always beautiful day of an older mom like you!
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Okay, ladies! So, if you’ve ever visited my website, you know that I have a mothering motto. Okay. Now how do I come up with a motto?
Well, at the time I was building my website, somebody said, you should have a motto. And immediately, what came to my mind was this one episode I saw in my favorite show called Judging Amy. Now, if you’ve ever seen it, I absolutely loved it! And I remember this one episode in which she reads a poem. So, I’m going to read you the poem because that poem became my motto. It is called On Children by Kahlil Gibran.
“And a woman who held a babe against her bosom said, ” Speak to us of Children.
And he said, Your children are not your children. They are the sons Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.”
So, why is that my motto? What does that mean to me?
I grew up with a mother that thought her children belonged to her. She thought we would always be children. Her mothering ability was not very good when it came to allowing us to be adults. We were not supposed to have our own lives, dream our own dreams. She wanted to live her life through us. This was something that I saw among a lot of my peers. Mom not allowing her children to grow up
So, I don’t know if it was generational or what the issue was. But a lot of my friends struggle with the same thing. Their parents’ idea of this world in which their children were never going to move away have their own goals, their own dreams. The parents already had paths set for their children, already had expectations. They spend a lot of time trying to force their kids to fit in into these molds. Well, to be honest with you, I still see it once in a while but not as often as I used to.
I’m going to say that our generation’s challenge has been completely different, but this is something that I saw a lot in the past with my friends. Like I said among my peers. And it really had a negative impact on our lives. I’m only going to speak for myself, but I had a difficult time breaking away from my mother because every time I attempted to live my own life, it was,
“Why do you want to leave me? Don’t you love me?”
But my independence was separate from the love that I felt for my mother. And the reality was that I needed to porch my own path. Figure out who I was. Live my own life. And our children need to do the same, and I think sometimes we forget that.
Just recently, I went through this experience where I was away from my children for two weeks. It’s the first time that I was away for that long. And they didn’t need me. It was so hard! My heart was breaking! They hardly called me. I called them every day, in the morning and in the evening. They never called me to say, “Mommy, I need you. Mommy, I miss you. Mommy, I need you. Mommy help with this, or mommy help me with that.”
I taught my kids to be independent, self-sufficient. No, they were not alone. They were with my sister. But even my sister said the same thing! They were totally independent and self-sufficient, and I really struggled. It was painful. It felt like they were just pulling away from me.
But you know what I realized? I had to give them that space. I didn’t try to pull them back. I didn’t try to make them feel bad. At the same time, I did express my feelings. I needed them to call me a little more. And it made me think of the poem, “You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.”
My arrows were flying, and they were flying in a straight line, and I was so proud of them. So proud of them! I’m almost in tears—never mind on the almost—now I’m in tears!
But I realized that the next part of my evolving mothering definition is beginning to see my girls as adults. They’re turning fourteen this year. And before you say, “you’re jumping the gun.”
Think about it. When you thought that those sleepless nights with your newborn were never going to end and then you blinked, and they were toddlers. And then, before you knew it, they were in school. And suddenly, they’re in middle school. Now they’re attracted to people, and they’re becoming independent. The next big step is high school. Four years and they’re going to be off to college or working.
And suddenly, I felt a little bit for my mom. Suddenly I understood where she was coming from. Suddenly, she didn’t seem so psycho. Okay, because she did seem pretty psycho back then.
So, once again, I find myself thinking, “My mother taught me what I didn’t want to be, what do I want to be in this next stage that my kids are entering.”
This next stage, this process of becoming adults when pretty soon I’m going to blink, and that’s going to be the case. They’re going to be adults. And I decided well, first of all, I’m going to love them. No matter what choices they make, no matter how far away they move from me, no matter how fearful I am for them, I’m going to love them. I’m going to continue to expect my children to be the best version of themselves that they can be. Even when I don’t understand that version. Even though their independent thought and action may not be something, I would have done or something that I would have wanted for them. I’m going to continue to expect to be the best version of themselves and do everything I can to support that process. Whatever path they choose, I’m going to stand by them.
And who knows what challenges they will face, who they will become, but I’m going to be standing right next to them. Either physically or metaphorically because who knows, they might be living in Alaska. And I’m not moving any place where it snows, ladies. They’re on their own there. I hate snow. I know some of you love it. But I lived in Northern Michigan for six years and slipped and slid on the ice and having to get the snow off the car, having to get the snow out of the driveway. Never again!
I’m also promising myself that I’m going to celebrate whatever my children want to celebrate. What do I mean by that? Sometimes I see parents thinking, “Well, that’s not that important, or I don’t understand why my kids are making such a big deal out of it or whatever.”
I’m going to take the position that if it’s a big deal to my child, it should be a big deal to me. I’m also going to take the position that if my child thinks this is awful, and they need to cry. My shoulders are going to be there for them every single time. I will cry with them when they want to cry when they need to cry, when they feel that that’s what’s right for them.
The hardest thing for me is I will not expect them to live my dreams for them. Because as parents, we have certain dreams for our children. But those dreams can become prisons. I know my mother’s dreams for me became that—something I had to break through, break away from. In turning her dreams for me into prison, she became the guard of that prison—the warden of that prison. I don’t want to be that for my children. Instead of focusing on what I want for their professional or personal life, I’m going to focus on helping them be the best version of themselves that they can be.
That doesn’t mean that I don’t push because I do. I have high expectations for them. But that means, for example, for my child who thinks she wants to be a forensic scientist. I expect her to go to college because that’s what it requires. For my child who wants to be an entrepreneur, she may not choose to go to college, but then I expect her to work hard at acquiring the skills to be an entrepreneur. Not to dabble but to be successful. My child wants to be an attorney. I expect her to do what it takes to be an attorney. And when she becomes an attorney, I will expect her to be a good attorney. When she becomes a mother or when any of them become mothers, or my son becomes a father, if they choose to parent, then I will expect them to be the best parent that they can be. If they decide to have a spouse or partner, I will expect them to be the best partner that they can be.
That’s my expectation for them to be the best version of themselves that they can be in living their own lives and their own dreams. I will always celebrate their freedom to be whoever it is that they want to be. And trust me, during the teenage years, that’s not always easy. A) Because they constantly change their mind, and b) sometimes who they want to be is a little cuckoo. But, back to what I said, take a breath, accept they’ve chosen this situation or this path for now, and again, just expect them to be the best that they can be at it.
And it can sound a little crazy, but one of the things that I find is that when I constantly expect them to be the best version of themselves, they keep evolving. They don’t become stagnant. They keep moving forward. In that process of moving forward, they experience many new things. Through those new things, they open their horizons, and their dreams become bigger. Did I know that’s what’s going to happen? No, I didn’t. No, I didn’t.
But back to the poem, “You may give them your love but not your thoughts, for they have their own thoughts.”
They are their own person. I think that’s the hardest part about being a mom is letting go. Maybe that’s why they’re driving us so crazy in the teenage years. It’s nature’s way of helping parents start to let go. Right? I hope so because otherwise, I can’t think of any value in going through the teen years.
Well, I hope you certainly had a wonderful mother’s day! I did because I always do. It’s my third favorite day of the year. Christmas being number one. Thanksgiving being number two. Mother’s day being number three. Love it! I’m totally selfish that day. No matter how much they don’t want to be kissed or loved. I do it anyway because it’s my day! And lately, I’ve been telling them, “It’s not my day. It’s my month.”
I think I deserved a month out of the year. Right?
And so do you!
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If you share an imperfect journey to motherhood, welcome to the crew! Till next time! Embrace the joys of imperfection. Toodles!
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