Was I a Good Mother?
Recently I asked my daughter Megan, who is now 30, how she would describe her childhood. I wanted to know her perspective, as I know mine is contaminated by doubts about all the things I didn’t do.
Was I a good mother?
You know what I’m talking about. We parents are usually pretty hard on ourselves. When I think back on those child-raising years, I remember how harried and rushed I always felt. I remember flashes of joy, laughter and fun. I also remember frustration, anger, and impatience. There was always something or someone tugging at me for attention.
Managing a career, a marriage, a household, and two children was often challenging. I didn’t always make the right choice. Though our children were always provided for - they were safe, well-fed and healthy - I find myself wishing I knew then what I know now.
As a life coach, I see in adults the damage that is done during some people’s growing up years. I can’t help but wonder if I did (or didn’t do) things that left emotional scars in the psyche of my now grown children. I believe most of us do the best we can with the level of consciousness we have attained at the time, and yet…
I know I wasn’t perfect. I forgot things. I remember raising my voice. More disturbing, I know I passed along my own body image issues to both of them. I didn’t teach them about abundance, or their ability to create anything in life that they desire. My own fears informed their sense of possibility. And for all that, I feel remorse.
I want to believe I did the best I could. I coach my clients to believe that. And it’s true -- in those days I didn’t know much about creating abundance, and I hadn’t done inner work of any kind before my mid 40’s. I wasn’t comfortable in my body and didn’t see the connection between lifestyle and my health.
I didn’t know what I didn’t know. There’s one thing I did know, however.
I loved my children to the moon and back. Before I gave birth to my children I didn’t completely understand my capacity for love. Then Megan came along, and I thought my heart would explode. There was so much love for this tiny 8 pound human being, I was overtaken by it. When I became pregnant for Keith, I worried that I wouldn’t have enough love for him. When he was born, that explosion of love happened again. I learned then that there is always a capacity for more love.
Over the years, that love has grown into a different kind of love -- less hovering and more trust. Megan and Keith are happy. They are responsible, healthy, productive human beings. As they continue creating their own lives - career, marriage, families - I can see that much of what we taught them has taken hold. They are kind and loving. They do the right thing. I see their father and I reflected back in beautiful ways.
They make mistakes too. And like I did, they do the best they can, with the current level of consciousness they’ve attained. I can want things for them that they can’t see, and that desire doesn’t help them see it. I can ruminate over the things I wish I had known, and attempt to give them that knowledge. Rarely does that really work. They each have their own unique path to follow. My true service to them is allowing them to find their own way.
Megan’s answer to my question about her childhood was one word: Joy. That’s pretty cool, right? What parent wouldn’t love hearing that? A huge rush of relief swept over me.
I haven’t asked Keith yet, and his answer may be different. He always speaks directly, like me. We never doubted his view about anything. When he was a small boy, that was very challenging. I believe it serves him now.
What matters most is that they always knew they were loved and they were safe. Maybe that’s the most important thing any of us can do as parents. What say you?