As it gets colder out I notice my tendency to look down as I walk. I bundle up against the cold, and keep my face shielded from the wind.
But it’s not just cold weather that keeps me from looking up and noticing what’s around me as I walk. And it’s not just me. I’m not the only one staring at my iPhone, frantically texting (or emailing, or snapchatting, or something-ing) as I walk through my town. I’m not the only one missing the simple sights that surround me – and that could delight me if I only noticed them.
The trees are changing colors. I actually get a bit sad in autumn because I don’t like the cold weather. And while it might not be cold now, as the leaves start to change colors I know that cold is coming. But even I have to admit the fall colors are an amazing show…if you look up and notice them.
I was rushing to my early morning yoga class the other day (yes, I get the irony of rushing to yoga) and nearly missed the gorgeous red berries on the bush I was walking past. Because I had one more text I wanted to get out before I took an hour-long break from texting.
It’s the people sitting at a table, staring at their phones instead of each other. It’s the person missing the curb because they’re frantically thumbing someone something. It’s me finding a reason to pay attention to something other than who I’m with and what’s around me. Which is a bit crazy, especially right now when what’s around me are flaming, beautiful autumn colors. When the trees are putting on a show that I’m missing. When the sky is crystal blue and crisp, the sun is shining, and every where I look there’s a bit of nature to appreciate. Or I could stare at my phone.
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!
I was having a discussion with someone recently about how hard we all try (well, okay, about how hard I try). At everything. Really, at everything. Even though I think I’ve stopped trying that hard. They recommended I aim for an A-, instead of an A.
“Instead of an A,” I laughed. “Who aims for an A?” When I was in sixth grade my teacher made up a grade for me, A-WD, A-With Distinction. I had gotten too many A++’s and she needed a new grade for my work.
Now, I may have gotten great grades because I was smart and I worked hard, and I may have gotten great grades because I worked too hard…at everything. In the past I’ve tended to make sure that I always did the best I could. In everything. And when my efforts, or results, were less than stellar, I hated it. And probably myself.
So it was recommended I try for an A- and I like that idea. I may even let myself slip to a B sometimes. Not everything is worth doing perfectly. Not everything is worth the extra effort. And besides, many would argue, there is no such thing as perfect. Or perhaps – the Zen way – everything is perfect just as it is?
I’m aiming for an A-. I’m stopping the blog here, not writing more, and letting it (and me) be enough. I’m going to go enjoy the rest of my day, rather than working towards my A-WD.