Saturday, February 5, 2011


I have a mother that kept me alive to reach adulthood. That and she gave birth to me. Those were her two major accomplishments for which I must still call her mother. What she did in between those two time periods was less than stellar or what I deserved as an innocent child in her protective custody.  Don't get me wrong, by child abuse standards, I fared well, but in my opinion, I deserved much better. I won't go into the detail of the mishandling of my childhood here, just suffice it to say that there was a whole lot of inappropriateness going on when it comes to parenting. Promises made to her a while ago, prevent me from sharing those tidbits until she is dead, thus saving her the shame and embarrassment now for not doing things quite right during my formative years.

Many people say that you should just love and honor your mother because she's your mother. I disagree, plain and simple. Any child who manages to emerge from anyone's vagina or through a c-section, without being asked if this is truly what they wanted, should only be received by someone who has the child's best interests at heart, not their own selfish agendas. That would ideally be the one who bore them, but adoptive parents, foster parents, whoever they may be, qualify as long as what they want for their children is their welfare. If we could only have a litmus test for what being a proper parent was. Our government seems to think they know when they take children away from parents, but I would say they only take kids from the most severe situations and then manage to put them (sometimes) into even worse situations. But that's another blog.

In writing this, I had to wrestle with the thought that my children might potentially want to write their own version of what growing up with me was like.  Being a mother, along with millions of other mothers, who may not have always been the best parent to their children, this was a hard thing to think about, but one I had to come to terms about before I put down in words what I thought about my own mothers lack of parenting skills and also, what I wished all mothers should be for their children.

How can I sit here and insist that all mothers should conform to this ideal in my head, when I don't know if I really have done all the things that my children needed from me for their chance at being the best they had to offer to the world. Supporting and loving them have always been the goal, but have all my actions really done that to specifically meet their needs? I hope so and as small children they might say yes, but what about when they have their own children and look back on their earlier days.... did I really do everything that they needed to get them to a point where they could continue the cycle of having a good life, being decent people, as well as, give good parenting to their child(ren)?

The answer, if I am totally honest with myself, would have to be no. I've made mistakes along the way. In looking back on my own mothering skills, I can't say that I was my ideal all the time. There are times I wish I would have done differently or better with my children. My guess is that all mothers, including my own, have thought that. This introspection tells me that what originally motivated me to demand perfection of my mother is probably not possible and at best, wishful thinking. We are all human and therefore not perfect. That just means that perfect mothers are not possible. But it doesn't mean that good mothers aren't.

We all do the best we can, but being a good mother isn't just about doing the best you can, it's about your head and your heart being in the right place. It's about challenging what you've been raised with because you know deep down in your heart it wasn't good and then providing your children with something better. It's about taking bad situations in your childhood you thought were normal at the time; doing them differently with your own children and seeing to it that their normal really was normal. Being a good mother is also about realizing when you've made mistakes and fixing them with your children being fully aware and part of the process of "doing better when you know better". And doing better when you know better requires you to want to know how to do better for your childrens' sake, even when you don't want to. Parenting calls for maturity and that is something that many mothers doing the best they can, are not in possession of.

Soon after I had my first child, I was laughed at by my mother when I said that I knew what a good mother was. I think I knew the day he was born because he changed my life. My thinking went from "all that really mattered in this world was me" to "all that really mattered in the world was him". Every action I took from that day forward revolved around making his life better. And that thought continued with my second son. My children know that I've got their backs and their futures. They will never have to wonder... does she love me, does she care about me, will she take care of me, can I count on her? Yes, yes, yes, yes... on all counts... always.

1 comment:

  1. I don't believe a person should be honored or loved because he or she may be your parent. Neither do I believe that parents have to be or even can be perfect. The responsibility of a parent, any parent and every parent, is as you stated clearly: "My children know that I've got their backs and their futures. They will never have to wonder... does she love me, does she care about me, will she take care of me, can I count on her? Yes, yes, yes, yes... on all counts... always."

    Susi, as we say in Texas, anything else is gravy, and not everyone is capable of making gravy. By providing that, you prepare them for adulthood. That's all you can do.

    BTW, I have been waiting for this post and I thank you for it.