There are many things I am guilty of. But there are just as many things I am NOT guilty of. And yet, I feel guilt.
Is it just one of those aspects of being a mother? Feeling like everything your children do and say is a direct reflection of yourself? While this is all good and fine when they are being perfect angels and getting amazing school reports and winning races at Athletics and being kind to those around them, it’s not so easy during the more difficult moments.
I’m extremely relieved to be well past the screaming baby stage, the toddler tantrum stage, the “I can do it mySELF!” stage, and the testosterone-surge-big-enough-to-power-a-small-city stage. But it’s true, what all those wise mothers told me way back then. There will always be ANOTHER, DIFFERENT stage. So while my kids are past the stage of throwing food and drawing on the walls, guess what? There’s a plethora of OTHER interesting aspects that need to be dealt with.
Thankfully, I’m finding the good outweighs the bad in every circumstance and situation … as it always has done in the past. When I look back, I remember many, MANY more wonderful moments than I do testy and trying moments, like those I alluded to above. Well, ain’t that a relief?
Yes, there are an infinite number of fantastic things that happen on a daily basis that cause me to well up with pride, love, joy and happiness when it comes to my kids. Sweet comments. Lovely hugs. Kind gestures. Moments of sharing and talking. Quality time.
There are also things that cause me to question my own actions. It’s the guilt thing. Did I do that right? Did I say the right thing just then? Did I answer that (really curly) question correctly? How patient have I been with them today? How many times did I say “I love you”? How many hugs did I give them? How many times did I raise my voice? How often did I lose my cool about something insignificant? Have I made them feel special and unique? Have I been their biggest advocate, their loudest cheerleader, their craziest fan?
Because I really want to be a good mother. I have a great job which I love, and I’m involved in many other things that bring me joy and fulfillment and (sometimes) kudos. But more than anything else, I want my kids to know that I love them, that I’m proud of them, that I’m always there for them.
Tonight I had to go out to music practice before the kids were in bed. Tyler was in the bath when I left. I said goodbye to him, and told him I loved him. He wanted a hug. I was running late, and he was wet and soapy, so I blew him a kiss instead. As I walked down the hallway, I could hear him saying, “But I love Mummy SO much, I want her to put me to bed.” Heart = breaking.
When I got home, I asked Rob if Tyler had been okay after I left. He said he was pretty sad at bedtime, and kept repeating the above phrase. Rob promised Tyler that I would give him a cuddle when I got home. And I did. I embraced his slumbering body and kissed his warm cheek and told him he was special and loved.
I know there are always going to be times where I can’t, for whatever reason, be what I want to be for my kids. I’m human, and I fail. Not only that, there are sometimes circumstances (like tonight) that require me to be elsewhere when I am wanted/needed at home. I try not to dwell on these things too much. Every now and then, during the school day, I think about my boys as I sit here at home doing my work. I wonder what they are doing AT THAT VERY MOMENT. I wonder if they are happy, if they are content, if they are being listened to. I wonder if they are behaving themselves! I wonder if they are feeling sad for any reason. Pretty soon, my heart begins to beat extremely fast, and I have to end my train of thought. Otherwise I would end up down at the school, staking out my boys’ classrooms, just to make sure they are “okay”.
I know I’m what is considered a “protective mother”. I find it hard to let go, to watch my boys grow up and become independent. Although I DID let Ethan walk to school by himself this morning, for the first time ever! And we both survived.
When little things happen like they did tonight, I admit that I sort of revel in it. Sure, the guilt sets in, and my heart feels like it is being ripped from my chest. That’s what inspired this post. But on the other hand, I kind of relish the thought that my children will always need me and want me around. Perhaps that is foolish, because they won’t always feel that way! Soon I will probably become very uncool. I may not get hugs or kisses in front of their friends. I may not get cards and love notes and “special presents” for absolutely no reason.
But let’s cross that bridge if (okay, when) we come to it.
Until then, I can only enjoy the moments we have right NOW. I need to send the guilt packing, and just focus on making the most of today. I’m incredibly blessed to have two beautiful boys, and while they are not perfect, I think that’s okay because neither am I. We’ll work it all out as we go along. Just as we have so far. Nobody said we were supposed to have all the answers at the start of our journey. As long as my boys know they are loved, which I’m pretty sure they do, then all is well in my little world.
And the guilt? It can take a hike!