My son gave me an emoticon pillow this morning. A smiley face, with hearts for eyes, and #1 Mom embroidered across the plush forehead. He also gave me a box of Nerds – because I always ask for a few of his and would never buy them for myself.
I love being a mom.
I heard somewhere, long ago, that we heal ourselves through our kids. Maybe through all, or at least some, of our important relationships, but especially our kids. I know this to be true.
When my daughter was born, nearly twenty years ago, I was terrified. Excited, but terrified. I had all the normal terrors – being fully responsible for another living being who couldn’t (yet) tell me what they wanted or needed. What if something happened on my watch? What if something happened any time? How would I know what to do?
I also had my own personal terrors, my fears of not being a “good” mother, the type of mother I wanted to be. My fears of hurting her, of letting her down, of causing her pain – of not giving her the emotional foundation and security she needed and deserved.
My husband tells stories of how I read parenting books incessantly. I suppose I did. I am a “data-gathering” learner, in many ways. Teach me, tell me, instruct me – help me not f—k this up. Help me learn how to be there for my kids. How to be fully, fully be there for them. How to put them first, but not too much first. How to love them enough.
But looking back (and this may just be hindsight) I think the greatest learning I got from all the reading and research and absorbing I did was to learn to trust myself, and to learn that – bottom line – all I had to do was come from love and love my kids. To let all the love in my heart flow freely out.
When I first stepped into Al-Anon, my mantra became “the disease stops here.” I was determined to do the best I could to not pass on the dysfunctions and demons I grew up with. Maybe that’s most parents’ goal; it certainly was mine.
Soon thereafter my primary parenting goal became twofold – First, that my kids would always know that they were loved and that I loved them. I figured if I got that far, I’d accomplished a lot. Second, to the best of my ability, that my kids would know that they were fine just as they were. Or at least that I loved and accepted them just as they were. I knew it may be human nature to strive to be better and please those around us, but I also knew that I had a bit too much of that striving in me, and I hoped to impart that on them at least a little bit less. In other words, I hoped that at least some of my “disease” would stop with me.
I won’t say that I’m the #1 Mom of the world. I don’t think that exists, nor do I strive to be there. I will say that by loving my kids, and allowing my love for them to fill me up in ways I can’t put into words, I’ve healed. Healed in ways I honestly probably can’t fully fathom. My heart is fuller and whole-er than I ever thought it could be, and loving them fills me with an indescribable joy.
I will say also that my kids both know – absolutely know – that they’re lovable and loved, and that I love them. Most. As I say to them, I love them most.
I love being a mom.
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