If someone were to ask me what emotion stirs deep inside me when I contemplate being a mother, the first word that used to come to mind was GUILT. Yes, you know what I’m talking about. The GUILT! We wonder every stupid gosh darn day if we are doing it right. If we are doing enough. If we are damaging our poor children by our choices that we make for them. Oh wait, what I mean is, are we giving them enough choices because that’s the cool, hip, new age parenting thing to do, right? Give them choices for everything??? BIG sigh… So yes, the guilt… However, as my parenting years grow with time and experience but maybe not a whole lot of wisdom, given that every child is so extremely different and the learning curve of being a parent never really straightens out, I have started to let go of that feeling of guilt. Why? Because what I really want to feel and what I really DO feel is love. My mom once told me long ago when she was telling me all of her own feelings of guilt and distress from all the horrible things she did to me as a child (or so she thought), she stopped in the middle of her confessional and said to me, “You know what Sarah, I have always really and truly loved you, and I think you can make up for a lot of mistakes with your children when they really and truly know how much they are loved.” She was so right. I don’t look back on my childhood and think about the times my mom lost her mind (usually because we made her lose it) or the times she made a decision that made me upset (those decisions were typically to protect me) or the times she disciplined me (always because I deserved it I’m sure) but instead I remember the times she would scoop me in her arms when I was hurt, the times she snuggled with me in bed at night when I couldn’t sleep or because I was scared, the times she sang to me softly when I was sad, and the times she was brave and fierce in front of me when I was timid. That’s what I remember. She loved me, really truly loved me and that’s what I have replaced my guilt with when it come so my own parenting. You can make up for a lot of mistakes with love and so my boys know that even when I’m that nutty crazy mom that forgets to offer choices or forgets to be patient or forgets to always be angelic and perfect (because I’m not) they do know how much they are loved. My eighteen year old son now scoops me up in his arms when I am tired, he ask me if I am ok, he treats his friends with kindness, and he reminds me that even though I am a mom, I’m still cool – so somehow, through all the years of mistakes I’ve made, I can see that love still wins.
So, my dear readers, drop the guilt, and start with love. Wrap your arms around your kiddos as often as you can. Laugh, and really play with them even for just a few minutes a day. Fix their hurts, listen to their stories with interest, put down your phones and look into their eyes, hold little hands, carry tired small people to bed with kisses and giggles, and they will remember all the love and as far as those days that you are not perfect (oh wait, that’s everyday) your kiddos will forgive you and they will learn from you that being real is what matters and that really being loved is what matters most of all.