Hindsight Parenting: Knowing Your Worth
I Can’t Fix Everything and Maybe I Don’t Want to
Break ups, breakdowns, breakthroughs, soul-breaks, deal-breaks and break-a-ways. When my children’s hearts break, it’s enough stress for this mom to break out into a sweat.
Ok…Ok. I’ll take a break…from the word, break. (See what I did there?) But really…in all seriousness…when will this urgent need to fix all that ails my children finally pass? Let me ask you. When your kids are sad, broken, beside themselves, do you agonize over how to make it better? Or am I alone in that?
This past week was a doozy for this fix-it-all-mama. Both boys, Son1 and Son2, experienced their own particular heartaches and, well, it was as if those things happened to me. Their sadness, their losses, their disappointments became mine. Honestly, the fact that they were hurting was pure unadulterated agony.
But luckily, just in the nick of time, my husband said something that got me thinking. In the midst of a full on mope, he looked me in the eye and said, “Son1 isn’t alone in this experience. What did we do when we were young and this happened to us?”
HMMMM. What DID I do when faced with adversity? Here’s the thing–I got through it. We all did. In fact, I more than got through it. I figured it out and grew because of bad stuff each and every time. And I suddenly realized, that perhaps the idea of trying to fix all the bad that happens to my children would rob them of the maturation and personal enlightenment that comes with making mistakes and facing the bad things that inevitably come. After all, I know so much more about life, I am so much wiser because of the lessons learned in strife.
And what’s more? I know instinctively that those lessons I’ve learned cannot be imparted to my children. Telling them, making sure they listen, will make no difference. There are some lessons that must be learned on the backs of pain and heartache.
Because of pain, I have learned that the best friends are those who stand by you, no matter what. Bad news tends to shine a big ol’ spotlight on “friends” of weak character. When all is said and done, those standing next to you at the beginning of heartache, and who are still standing with you until the very end are the keepers in life.
But this is not something one knows in the fiber of their being until they experience it themselves. And so, that means that my own children will need to lose friends to appreciate the ones who stay.
Because of my weakest moments, I know just how very strong I am. When the world knocked me to my knees. When my own decisions reared ugly heads and engulfed me with shame and loss, I rose. I stood. I kept going. And that knowledge….that I can scrape myself off the pavement, put one foot in front of the other and move gingerly towards the future makes the bad just a little less so. When all seems lost, I now have a wealth of memories of past struggle to remind me that I will make it through once again.
But without that wealth of experience, my children won’t know what they are worth. They won’t know of their courage. They won’t know they have the moxie to steam-engine forward. So, unfortunately for this mom-who-needs-to-fix, those kids of mine will need to proverbially “fall down seven times and stand up eight” and I cannot nor should not take those valuable moments from them.
Because of the bad, the embarrassing, the humiliating and my own failures, I have learned that none of us are above a little understanding and forgiveness. I know beyond any shadow of doubt that if I don’t want to be judged upon half truths and empty facts, then I should not do the same to others. Judgment with a side of “that-will-never-happen-to-me” is a very lonely room to stand in especially when in fact it will happen to you in just a matter of time. Loving humans, truly loving them is done without judgment and hedgings and if-thens.
But Son1 won’t know that until he has a wealth of experiences. Someday he may feel the white hot sting of shame and hopefully the cool gentle fingers of forgiveness that comes after. And even though, it will be painful for me to stand on the sideline as he hurts, I know that, because of my experiences with mistakes, I will be able to be the person who soothes the hurt with acceptance and love.
In life, hurt happens…a lot. And frankly, thank goodness it does. When we are in the midst of it, there’s nothing worse. When I was in my 20’s and 30’s there were days that I thought trouble would never leave my stoop. But that’s the thing about trouble, it does leave. And when it does, it’s not just happiness that takes it’s place. There’s also wisdom and enlightenment. Each trial brings change. Each change teaches just a little more about life; what we want, what we don’t, who we are and who we aren’t. We decide to leave some things and some people behind and we find others. With each trial, our lives are nuanced and focused and refined. I’ve come to look upon hard times as life’s way of saying “It’s time to get smarter. Let me show you how.” And I hope someday, my children learn the value of hardship. I hope beyond all measure that they come to embrace it as the friend that it can be. As hard as it is for me to admit, they will never ever be able to do that if I intervene in every problem. That doesn’t mean that I can’t do anything. No. What I CAN do is be the kind of human that I need when faced with a tough hour, or day, or year; I can love those children of mine unconditionally. I can use my arms to hold and my ears to listen. I can sit in silence near them so they know that I am there. I can remind them of their greatness and tell them that even though bad comes and bad goes, even though life is full of change some good and bad, one thing that will remain the same until the end of our days is that I am their mother, a mother who will always be there for them. And that will never change.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Logan has lived in Glens Falls, NY all her life. By day, she is an educator with 20 years experience, a mom to Aidan and Gannan, her two teenage boys, a new mommy to a beautiful daughter, Ila, and wife to the love of her life, Jeffrey. By night, weekends and any spare time she can find, Logan writes. She loves memoir and also adores writing essays about the challenges of parenthood. This year she started a parenting blog called A Muddled Mother, an honest place where mothers aren’t afraid to speak of the complications and difficulties that we all inevitably experience. Logan has been published in various children’s and parenting magazines including Today’s Motherhood, Eye on Education, Faces, and Appleseed. Logan’s previous column for Hilltown Families, Snakes and Snails: Teenage Boys Tales ran bi-monthly from June 2010-Feb. 2011, sharing stories of her first time around as a parent of two teenage boys. — Check out Hindsight Parenting: Raising Kids the Second Time Around on the 5th Monday of any month.