Okay, this is hard to write.
Years ago my husband said to me, “It’s as if you didn’t get enough love when you were a child, so you have an endless need for love and affection now.” At the time I was astounded with how much he understood me. It was like he found the key to unlock what I needed and what drove me.
I’m doing my best – my very best, actively working on it every day – to lessen that endless need. I think I’m even getting quite good at it. I no longer want to be driven by any need, especially one to fill a hole of love, or a perceived hole of love, inside me. And at the same time, I’m trying to make sure that my kids never grow up with that need. That they have no idea what that’s like.
They say you heal yourself, and your childhood, through your children. The trick is to do that without dumping unnecessary issues on your children. I know that I have healed and grown through loving and caring for my kids. I am blessed with two wonderful children, and I am blessed with a ton of love to shower on them. There’s almost nothing I like to do more.
My parenting goal was relatively simple. I obviously wanted to do my best, in every situation. I read books and searched sources and asked experts, all to figure out how to give my children what they wanted and needed, and how to be the best mom for them. The best mom I could be. But my bottom-line goal – that my kids should always know they’re loved.
I think I achieved my goal. I think that, at least mostly, my kids know I love them. That I will always love them. That I may not say or do the “best” or “rightest” thing in a moment. I may not even say or do the most loving thing in the moment. But I definitely love them, no matter what, and that will never change. I think they know that. And that makes me very, very proud.
I looked for the best in what my parents gave me and tried to give that to my kids. I looked at the worst in what my parents gave me and aimed for the opposite, at least to some degree. And I loved – wholly, completely, with an unending supply of love and affection and joy – showering my kids with all that I had. (And they have a great dad as well. Their knowledge of being loved is clearly, largely, probably more than 50%, because of him!)
I did, and do, my best to be real with my kids. I admit when I don’t know something. I did, and do, my best to put them first nearly all of the time (especially when they were young), to put myself first when it makes more sense and I really need to, and to simply come from love as best as I can when I don’t know what to do. I’ve made many mistakes. I will make more. Probably many more. I’ve been too strict and too lax with bedtimes and diets. I’ve said “No” when they wished I’d said “Yes,” and “Yes” when I probably should have said “No.” I’ve given too many and too few chores, and lacked consistency because I’ve rethought my original decision or I’ve gotten too lazy to stick to my guns. I most likely held onto my kids too tightly at times, to make up for my own memories of being let go of. I am not a perfect mother.
I don’t believe there is a perfect mother. I think I started this mothering journey thinking I had to be the perfect mother, but I’ve learned that “perfect” doesn’t exist. There’s the “do the best you can” mother. The “good enough” mother. The “trying and at least getting some of it right” mother. And they’re all fine.
I watch my friends parent their kids. They all do it in different ways. And I think their kids all know that they’re loved. Maybe that doesn’t seem like a huge accomplishment to some people, but to me it’s huge. To me, you keep kids safe and let them know you think they’re wonderful and you love them. I am honored to watch others do this. I am blessed to have two opportunities to do it myself. I am blessed to always have more love in my heart to give.
I’ve learned a lot in my motherhood journey. I’m sure I have a lot more to learn. But I will acknowledge that I am a good mother, which is a tough thing for me to say because I don’t usually compliment myself like that. But it’s my greatest accomplishment. I’ve worked hard (and played hard) at it and I am a good mother. Because my kids feel loved.
I’d love to hear your thoughts, and please share this post with others if it resonates with you!
Lisa, I love reading your blog every time you post – this one in particular touched my heart. Now that I’m a grandmother, it is a little easier for me to look back and tell myself that I did a good job as a mother! Obviously, I’m still a mother, but the relationship with my daughter is different, I don’t feel the responsibility, anxiety, fear and self-doubt, wondering if I was doing the right things as a parent. Now I feel pride and know it was that foundation of unconditional love I felt and feel for my daughter that was the key. You are so right, we all make mistakes as parents, but as long as we come from love and make sure our children feel that love, things seem to work out. Please continue posting, so often you articulate many of my feelings and I feel uplifted by your thoughts.
As you know, I met and got to know you from a professional place and now have been enjoying getting to know you from a personal place. Thank you so much for continuing to touch me and so many others. Hugs, Kathy
Thank you for your kind words. I love that – the unconditional love I felt and feel for my daughter was the key. That is what it’s all about!!
Hugs back at you! Lisa