“My children are my world.”
“My daughter is my best friend.”
“I wake up for my children.”
“I would die if I didn’t have my son.”
I get it. We moms, love our children. We nurtured them in our bodies for nine months. Toiled through the selfless act of having our bodies wracked with pain to bring them into the world. Endured sleepless nights, cracked nipples, and bone-numbing fatigue. Lost friends, co-workers and identities. Exchanged nights painting the town red for nights holding a feverish child. Our engagement in their lives is absolutely vital for the survival of our child. Still, as I watch mom after mom become torn apart by their children’s choices, I have to wonder if we missed the mark somewhere along the line.
My mother and I are friends. That’s the result of her making an effort to not push me away while raising me. Still, her and I will both admit, the years living with her depression affected who I am today. It was never said to me “I wouldn’t wake up if I didn’t have you.” It was implied. And the weight of that implicatication hung over my head.
I was afraid to tell my mother things I should have told her. I was afraid to do things to upset her. I was afraid to do anything to make her life any harder than it already was.
That’s the type of weight that SHOULD have never been mine as a child to carry.
My mom made some good choices. She made every effort to not discipline or correct us in front of others. She was very restrictive on who we hung around…although not perfectly executed (I can think of some family members we should have NEVER been left alone with), this saved me the heartache of many bad experiences. She didn’t allow me to not take responsibility for the bad decisions I made. She loved me. And I knew that.
I understand how hard mothering can be. When you have nothing. No one. But your children. I watched my mother. She did the best she could. Despite the horrific upbringing she had. Despite being married to my father. Despite being a part of a crazy, cultish Pentecostal church, she managed to raise four children. Sometimes, alone, simply because my father checked out of life. Despite of it all, she succeeded at mothering.
My mother helped me learn that how I treat a person is what counts. I treat my children with respect. With honor. With integrity. With grace. With mercy. With love. So far, that’s resulted in a healthy relationship between my kids and I.
When I first had my son, I decided thathe was NOT responsible for my happiness or unhappiness. Every decision and interaction has reflected that value. I’ve not been perfect. In fact, I was disinvited from my own child’s birthday party. Twice. Because I refused to let her them eat candy for breakfast. But for the most part, I I’ve been successful.
Our children NEED us to be the parent. Not their friend. Not their buddy. A parent. Someone they can rely on. Trust. Someone To stand up for them. To guide them. To walk beside them, showing them that life can be the most amazing thing ever. To be the wind that blows beneath their wings so that they can fly when the day comes. To love them.
It’s why when I hear a mother put so much pressure on her child it breaks my heart. No child should be told that they are responsible for their parent’s happiness. No child should be responsible for keeping the parent together. No child should feel like they have to parent their parent or another sibling. Because when the parent or sibling moves on with their life, that child…has no one.
It sets them up for failure.
It is my prayer that we remember; we’re the momma; they are the child. Don’t put boulders around their feet and then condemn them when they don’t fly. Don’t burden them with the weight that is not theirs to carry.
The future generation NEEDS us mommas to grow above ourselves and raise our children. To raise children who will be leaders and parents of the next generation. Strong and secure in themselves. Able to make the right decisions that will enable their children to make the right decisions.
It’s time we quit failing our children and give them every opportunity to succeed.