Watching all of the little cuties and their costumes on Halloween today and I am remembering my own when they were that little. So cute, so fun, so full of life. When my kids were little, most everything was relatively easy. Sure there were sleepless nights, their energy was exhausting, there was so much to teach and I had the weight of the world on my shoulders in keeping them simply from dying. But it was all pretty simple stuff. I was able to be the ‘perfect’ mom. Going to class every week, baking the holiday stuff, having the chore chart, fundraising for the sports teams and even being PTA president. It was easy to be a good mommy.
Fast forward to 13, 14, 15 when shit hit the fan. I began to see the horrors of what I did wrong (despite all the books I read and parenting classes I took) the things I didn’t do, and the things I thought I had control over but had none what so ever. I was smacked in the face with the understanding that not everything is ‘nurture.’ My attempts to pivot (back to parenting class again!) were thwarted because these kids, MY kids were way smarter than me. They had my number and I began to wonder who it was that was the teacher here.
Parenting is brutal but not for the reasons I thought. It’s taken me 21 years now to see the ridiculousness that was my attempt at parenting. I had these little babies and really all I was trying to do was to keep them from experiencing the same emotional pain that I had. It was a valiant effort. Problem is, life doesn’t work that way. Whatever wounds you have as a child, if you have not dealt with them INSIDE yourself, you pass that same pattern on to your kids. It doesn’t matter a lick what you do, all that matters is who you are and if you still carry those wounds…..they get em too.
These babies are 21 and 15 today. I am no longer delusional that I am smarter than they are. They are mirrors for me. Showing me all the parts of myself that are still up for healing. Both in my less than ideal reactions to them as well as in watching how they walk through the world. Like I do. It’s both horrifying and comical at the same time.
You see, the hardest part of being a mother for me wasn’t the mothering. That was just exhausting, not hard. The hard part is watching these two young men experience the same pain I have. Because my heart hurt not only for them but for me. It’s like reliving all of my wounds all over again as if I am a teenager too. Which of course, part of me still is. Then I get the added guilt of knowing that the only reason these kids are experiencing the same pains I have is that I was not evolved enough to have dealt with my own baggage nor skilled enough to teach them a different way. It’s a cruel little joke that not only can you not protect these little babies from pain, you can’t even protect yourself….even as an adult.
I wish I knew back then what I know now. My job wasn’t to protect them from pain. It was to teach them what to do with it. We ALL experience pain.
My influence was so much more back then. If only I had woken up sooner and learned those skills myself before they stopped listening to me. But then I have to remember that nothing is actually wrong. We are here to teach each other. They will have pain, I will have pain…the only lesson I need to teach (and the only way I can each it is by living it) is that pain is temporary.
All those years I spent trying to be the perfect mommy and keep the pain away and all I really needed to do was to be able to sit with them in their pain and let them feel through me that all pain is…..temporary.