Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Reflections on Parenting

I had an opportunity to reviews my parenting skills this past week.  I laid in a hospital bed after my heart to try a few new steps in its usual tap dance.  I had almost forty-eight hours to do nothing but lay there and count the many spots on the ceiling.  I started thinking about how I raised my children and what was the hardest part short of burying one of your own.  Been there, done that and don't particularly want to do that again.  All my children are grown now and in their own little worlds of parenting in various cycles.

The hardest part is not when your child is sick, as most would think, or raising teenagers.  It is allowing them to make their own decisions in their lives.  Whether it is the wrong decision (by my accounting) or right one.  Allowing them to learn from their mistakes.  I know you are shaking your head and saying wait a minute...it's a parent's job to protect your children.  It is after all a mother's job.  I've watched my children go through some of trials of life, which I have experienced, and it would be so easy to tell them not to take this road or that road.

The self-help aisles of bookstores are full of parenting guidelines, and how-to books.  All these are readily available, but nothing beats experience even hurtful ones.  I often wonder whether I have done right by my children by allowing them to make their own beds to lie on.  Part of me says yes, it was the right thing to do, but my mother's heart cries out how I should have helped them and protected them better.

A very recent discussion with my oldest daughter comes to mind about one of her sisters.  Why is her younger sibling staying in her marriage instead of leaving her husband?  I simply pulled from my stash of lessons I learned the hard way and explained it to her.  The reason her sister has not left her husband is fear of the unknown.  She knows what she has with her husband...good, bad, indifferent.  Until she reaches the point of of where what she has in her current relationship is more harmful or unbearable than her fear of what the unknown of leaving and raising her children on her own, she is not ready to take the next step.  Nobody can make this decision for her.  Only she knows how much she can bear and what will tip the scales in this momumental decision she makes.

Now, in my mother's heart I want to go to my child and tell her no matter what momma is here and love you no matter what your decision is.  The old momma will kiss it and make it better routine.  They are some decisions in life that momma can not kiss away.  Your children will experience heart ache, your children will be scared, your children will have dozens of experiences in life which you can not control.  Sad as the thought may be, it is true.

The same is true about another incident this past month.  My youngest had a miscarriage.  I wanted to run to her side the moment she called and be with her.  But I also understood this was something she and her significant other had to work through as one of those tough times in any relationship.  I called several times over the course of the day to see how she was doing.  She would not answer the phone, but would text me that she was okay. I texted her back asking her why did not answer my calls.  She answered back in text that she did not want to talk to me. 

I understood this as her way of coping with her tragic event.  Personally, I was hurt and hurting for my daughter, but in my sage wisdom I let it go knowing she would call and talk to me when she was ready.  Very hard decision for me to accept.  She did eventually call me and we talked on the phone for several hours.  Was I a bad parent? As mothers usually do I second guess myself constantly.  Ah tis, the mother's lot and heavy to bear.

So I lay in that blasted hospital bed, unable to move because of monitors, IV lines, blood pressure cuff, etc and thought about my children.  I think I've done okay by them overall.  Being a mother is never an easy job.  But it is a way of God teaching us patience, trust, and letting God be God.  All of us make mistakes and make ammends, it is after all life.

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