Parenting

“You are pregnant.”

Those three words send a wave of overwhelming emotions (from sheer terror to exhilaration, along with every emotion in between) that can knock you over, whether you were hoping to hear them or they were a total surprise. If you carry the baby to term, things just get worse. That is when the actual worry begins (and never ends).

If you had wonderful parents, you worry you will not be as good as they were. If you did not, you worry you will not give your child (children) better parents. For new parents, no matter how much you read or babysit, nothing compares to the realities of having a newborn baby. This is when the continual worry about doing things correctly begins.

Then, that worry turns into reality as the days, weeks, months, and years pass and it’s difficult to know whether you did a good job or scarred your children for life. Now that my children are technically adults (my youngest is in their first year of adulthood), it looks like I did the latter and there isn’t a damn thing I can do about it.

You know it’s bad when your oldest friend defends you to your child by saying, “She’s doing the best she can.” You see, she is a good mother and the kind of mother my children wanted. How do I define “good mother”? A “good mother” is one who puts their children above everything else (including themselves and their spouses). I was not (and never will be) a good mother. I was a “suck it up” mother (I describe myself as more of a distant father). One child just told me, “I understand what neglected means.” I thought loving them and making sure they didn’t kill themselves (or anyone else) counted for something. It was actually counted as a bad thing that the “only time” we spent any time together was while we played video games (I learned so we could do something together they liked).

I have jokingly said I should have had dogs instead of children and, during especially emotionally trying times, I see more truth in that joke:

  • dogs do not scream they hate you when you tell them no (or correct them), then refuse to speak to you for years;
  • dogs do not question whether they were ever wanted when you are trying to teach them a hard lesson;
  • typically, no law enforcement is ever involved with a dog;
  • dogs forgive your mistakes;
  • dogs care whether YOU are happy or not;
  • you always know what makes your dog happy.

I had always seen it as my role to prepare my children for life away from me. I wanted them to understand that life can be wonderful or it could suck horribly but how you dealt with it would determine if you were happy or not. Today, it feels like I have failed miserably. I do not know if it will get any better once my children are in steady relationships with (possibly) children of their own or not. All I know is I am tired (physically, emotionally, and spiritually).

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