Sometimes I think about the sheer audacity of parenting, about how all children are victims of their parents’ inadequacies, tendencies, habits, and biases. And I feel sorry for the ones who get stuck with mine.
Once when my son Joey was very young and very much the reason kid leashes were invented, I was chasing him through the halls of the church and not one but two helpful souls held open the double doors for him to run straight out into the parking lot. I screamed and chased him which just made him run faster. He was two steps away from oncoming traffic when I turned on the speed and he inexplicably stopped. We collided and he bounced off of my skirt into the path of a row of cars leaving the parking lot. Luckily, the first in the row of cars saw his flight and stopped in time for him to live to see another day.
I picked him up, pulled the gravel out of his knees, got in my own car and cried all the way home. And that was the moment I realized there really is something to Freud’s, “tell me about your mother.” I am my kids’ mom, and sometimes in the name of protecting them, I am going to cause harm, scar them even. I am going to make mistakes and they are going to pay the price. I am so sorry about that! But I’m the mom they got, an imperfect well-intentioned doofus really. I think I’ll start saving for their future therapy bills along with their college funds.
Do not call the Division of Child and Family Services. I am not going to cause them harm on purpose – it’s just going to be a side-effect of my best attempt at parenting. I’m going to try very hard to forgive myself for causing them that kind of harm. I hope they will too.
The kind of harm I don’t want to cause them, the kind that would be harder for me to forgive, is the kind that comes from selfishness. I never want one of my kiddos to say to their therapist, “she never thought about how that decision of hers would destroy me.” I’ve heard a lot of these stories lately… moms who choose something else over their kids. It is always devastating. I wish moms would knock that off.
My mom could have been selfish. She had opportunities. But then she wasn’t. Not ever. ( Thank you for that mom!) I’m sure I bounced off her proverbial skirt into traffic once or twice but because she was watching and not preoccupied with herself, she brushed me off and set me up to see another day. It’s the best and the most I could hope for for my little ones because I intend to keep being their mom, audacious as that is, every dang day.