I am an over thinker. I analyze everything no matter how big or small. If I find flaws in the world around me, I tend to find what I am doing wrong first rather then put the blame on someone else first even if it is clearly not of my doing. I've had to learn how to handle my life better especially as my daughter has gotten older. And as parents, we put so much of their mistakes on us. We think if we could have taught them better or helped more or done something differently, maybe we could have saved them some pain. Because let's be honest. We don't want our kids to make the same mistakes that we did. If we can help them avoid that hurt, why not help them navigate better then we did? So we take notes of every choice we made for them, take stock of every decision, and then hold it against ourselves as they grow. We find ways to blame ourselves for the bad choices they make because we don't want to let them fall as hard as we did. I watch my kid navigate her way through this brand new world and I hold my breath every time she walks out that door. I know the world that is out there and it still terrifies me to leave my house some days. I've had to learn to trust the foundation I gave her even if I think maybe I didn't make it sturdy enough. I've had to trust that if she falls, she'll figure out how to get back up just like I did, just like my parents trusted for me.
As kids, we hold our parents up to these unbelievably high standards. That pedastool is so high that maybe we set up our parents up for failure. As kids, we think they can do no wrong but when they do we don't have the capacity to understand they are humans just like us. At some point in their lives, they were kids, too, with hopes and dreams and goals. We don't understand that sometimes having kids changes our parents' lives so much that we alter their dreams, their hopes. We love our children. They are beautiful and amazing and bring so much joy to our lives but there is a reality that we also lose a little bit of ourselves when we choose to have them, too. It is not a bad thing. Please don't take this as any declaration of regret for having my own. I look at my mother, this amazing kind and wonderful person, and I watch her find who she is after she gave her life to us. I came from this strong woman that gave us so many years of her life without blinking, not once asking anything for herself. As I get older, the more of her I see in me where I thought I was always more like my father. I got the best of both worlds, I think. She's raised her kids. She has no more obligation to us other than to just continue to be a great Mom. And I look at my kid, now legally an adult. Where I was once scared of having an empty nest, I get more excited for my own journey.
I've spent pretty much my entire adult life as someone's mother. Again I am so happy that life decided that I would be the mother to this kid. She has been an inspiration to me, a form of strength I never knew I had, an avenue to become a better person. She has taught me so many things in this world that I wouldn't have known without her. The struggles, the tears, the not knowing what the hell I was doing was worth every second for that little girl to be in this world. But now a new chapter is starting. It's her time to go into this world and learn those lessons that I did so many years ago and I have to be OK when she falls down because she will, many times to come. I will forever blame myself for the mistakes I made with her. I will always worry that I didn't do enough for her, that I didn't work hard enough for her, that I wasn't there for her as well as I could have been. I will always think that I made these mistakes and that I somehow messed up her entire life. But here's the thing I think we, as parents, need to do. I think we just need to cut ourselves a break. Good parents are going to make mistakes. We're not always going to know what to do or how to fix things no matter how old our kids get. There will always be things that, as adults, our kids can blame us for. But, listen, it's healthy to take accountability for what we do wrong. We don't have to beat ourselves up so badly either. There have been two things I've wanted for my kid. I've wanted her to grow up to be a kind person and to just find her happiness. And I think at the end of the day, isn't that we want?
I had a good childhood because my parents loved us enough to provide that for us. We had shoes on our feet, food in our bellies, a place to lay our head at night. They provided us with a solid education and gave us opportunities even if we weren't smart enough to see some of them. I grew up with laughter and smiles and jokes about poop at the dinner table. It wasn't fancy. I wore hand me down clothes and I fought with my siblings and we moved a couple times but it was a good childhood. I can look back at it and appreciate all of those things they gave us. If I was missing anything, it was just me being a brat. And, sure, my parents made some mistakes but, as adults, we can let those go. I grew up strong and very much in my own way. My mother was smart enough to understand that was just how I was going to be, her stubborn and unusual child. I was going to find my own way through this life. And I remember during that very rough time in my life, I was angry at them, so angry. What I didn't, couldn't see is that they were two humans who just didn't know what to do for me. I pushed them away. They didn't abandon me. I guess I didn't really understand my parents until I became one myself. I wish I had a lot sooner in my life. I wish I had known all the sacrifices my mother made for us when I was younger and I wish I could have helped her more. And I hope my father knows up there in heaven that I love how he taught me to dream, how to believe that impossibles can happen even if these days my life feels like a struggle bus. Mother's Day is coming and maybe this blog is a few weeks early but we should tell our parents more often how grateful we are for them. My mother, this amazing woman who doesn't want the praise, deserves to know how beautiful her spirit truly is. I can only hope to be just like her one day.