We, as mothers (or fathers for you men out there), adore our children. We often use the word “mother” to define us. Yes, you will always be a mother, but your son/daughter will not always be a child. Using the term mother to define yourself is in no way a bad thing, but it can be a dangerous thing for you as a person. My children are my world, literally. I spend every hour of every day with them. I don’t have date nights, or nights to myself, or anything like that, they do everything I do, go everywhere I go, they are currently my social circle.
However much my life is consumed by mommyhood at this moment, it is just this moment in time. I may always be a mother, but I won’t always be a toddler’s mother. These moments are fleeting, they pass by us without us knowing, and our children grow and change. Four years ago I was the mother to an infant, two years ago a toddler, this year a preschooler, a few years from now a young girl. My children will continue to grow and change, and the relationship with them will as well.
I’m sure I have more then a few people reading this wondering “Ok the horse is dead and yet you continue to beat it, what gives?” I recently called my mother-in-law, after over 3 years of not speaking. I called her because I was infuriated with her actions, she called my husband, because of a blog she read here, and he didn’t answer because he was at work. She then called my mother, which she had never done, she said it was just to chat, but you don’t call someone for no apparent reason, and then say “I’m upset about a blog I read”. Anyway I called my mother-in-law because frankly I was pretty tired of her behavior and she said “You must know as a mother, that being a mother defines who you are.” I thought about that, because what she meant and what I see are two different things, yes she will always be the mother of my husband, but she will never have the relationship with him they had when he was 7. I think as parents we forget this important matter.
How do you and your girlfriends talk? One day your children will sit in that place having the same conversations. How do you speak about your parents? Your children will one day do that too. You will always be a mother, but that doesn’t mean you will always have a strong relationship with your child. Relationships are a never ending process, they need to be fostered, and do not just exists due to any blood or bond ties. A plant that was flourishing two weeks ago is dead today because it hasn’t been watered. We cannot look upon our children and say “This relationship doesn’t need work because I will always be her mom” that argument holds no water.
I told my oldest daughter that I loved her, she looked at me and smiled “Why thank you mom.” I get plenty of “I love you” comments from my daughter, frankly she loves everything, but I haven’t taught her to respond to “I love you” with anything, so I usually get a response that is unexpected, and I adore her for it. She is honest and sincere, and sometimes the moments that I choose to tell her I love her, and not moments when she wants to tell me she loves me, she does that on her own terms. Is there anything wrong with that? Not at all. I try very hard to meet my daughter on her terms, sure I am the parent and I have to do what is best to teach her and raise her properly yadda yadda yadda, but just because she is 3 doesn’t mean she isn’t already her own person. If I want a solid relationship with my children I have to meet them on their terms on their level. I’m trying to build a lasting foundation so that when I do upset them and when they don’t agree with me we already have a platform and it doesn’t rock our relationship so much it comes tumbling down.
What does that solid foundation mean? Well like I said, I will always be a mother but my daughter’s will not always be children. I think of our relationship as having two levels, the foundation is what will carry on as the years go by, love, respect, and acceptance are important here. I’m sure we all can say at anytime we love, respect, and accept our children, but I often see parents loving their children but not respecting or accepting them for who they are. If your son wants to take dance lessons, let him take dance lessons, if you daughter wants to speak with you find the time to speak with her, there are times when life can be so much for us as a parent that we see our children as a burden. Being a parent CAN be a burden, I will be the first to admit that. When bedtime comes I fall into bed exhausted and I hardly see my husband as I am constantly being mom first. I have frustrations over how much I must accomplish in one day. Being a mother can and is a burden sometimes, but my children are not the burden, just the responsibility attached to having them is. My children are awesome people, and my foundation relationship with them is based on how I have a solid foundation with anyone else old or young.
Sometimes we push our children’s desires and wants for themselves aside because we don’t want that for them, and when I say wants I don’t mean material possessions. I’m talking about how things they do can shape who they are. So many times I see children trying so hard for something and parents saying no no no, that is not for you. I see this most in the teenage years, how often have children neglected to do something because our parents didn’t want us to? My husband often says he really would have done ROTC, and left for college, but his parents didn’t approve so he ended up changing his course of action. My husband was more obedient then I. My father didn’t want me to leave, after all if I worked for him I would be making money instead of being an irresponsible college student. I left home and went to college (and rocked it I might add). I’m sure our parents where trying to do what was right by us, but by taking the stance they did they showed they were not accepting to us as people. I see this type of parenting all the time, and I must disagree with parents here, unless the decision is something illegal or outright harmful to your child, you need to understand and be accepting. Children need to stand on fall on their own at some point, and by college age you need to have a relationship with them that won’t be shaken just because you don’t agree. This relationship must begin much sooner then when our children are ready to leave for college as it take time to build a foundation.
The second level I see in my relationship with my children, is the level that is ever changing. That is the parent/child interactive relationship, i.e. the nitty gritty of responsibly raising children. The structure I give to our everyday life, the discipline, the advice, all these things change as the kids grow, that’s why I feel it is important to have a foundation that never changes. Dear parents, look at all the things that drive you crazy about your parents. I don’t know how many friends I have that love their parents, but would rather just not talk to them, because of the negativity their parents bring to the table. So often as adults we find our parents acting in ways we don’t like, we find them judgmental, condescending, and not accepting of us as individuals. If you have that kind of relationship with your parents you know what I’m saying. If you have a great relationship with your parents you may not know where I am coming from.
Needless to say, what kind of relationship do you want with your children 20 years from now? Like I said, you will always be a mother. Just remember the pitter patter of little feet is swift to fade into memory, hold on to the memory but let your relationship with your son/daughter grow. Never stop working on it, or you could loose the opportunity for a great relationship when they are older.