Before I had kids I used to dream of being the perfect mom. You know. The mom who patiently tucks her kids into bed with prayers and songs. The mom who never yells. The kind of mom who makes healthy lunches the night before, whose kids are in bed before 10pm on a school night and she is not yelling like a lunatic for everyone to get into bed. The mom who knows what is the best thing for their child, how to keep them safe and who knows what they are doing.
I have been a mom for 13 years and 154 days and I am still not sure what I am doing. I think I used to know. Or have a better sense of what I was doing was best for them. That was long ago. When the girls were younger. When they were babies, toddlers, maybe up to four years old when the world just seemed, I don’t know, simpler.
At 13 and 10, they are strong, funny, and creative. And they want to be in charge of their lives. They question my decisions, and push back. They want to have at least a say. So I discuss things with them and tell them I am doing what I think is best even if they do not agree. (Which seems to be more and more with 13.)
This mom thing is hard. Especially now that my girls are older. Choosing the “right” doctor, picking out the “right” baby food or winter coat seemed like a million years ago. I know those were important decisions, but for some reason, the decisions I am making now, seem so much harder. I think I know what’s best and how to keep them safe, only to second guess myself after the fact and wonder if I am doing something which will irrevocably screw up their lives forever.
I remember reading “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” before 13 was born. It was the perfect book for me. As a first time mom, I had no idea what to expect. I also needed the check list. Something to read every night before she was born, something to hold onto and go back to each chapter after she was born to make sure I had some kind of idea what was going on and what I should do.
After the birth of 10, I felt a little more comfortable, and relied less on the book, and more on my own intuition.
But since they have entered the tween and teen years, I feel lost sometimes. I wish I had a check list so when 13 spends two hours complaining about her hair and then goes into what my hubby and affectionately refer to as “Sybil Mode” I know this is normal teen behavior, and oh here is the chapter on what this behavior is all about, what I should do, and how I should react. And I could refer back to this chapter every week. (Every day.)
I sometimes feel powerless. I hope the decisions I am making are going to be the rights ones and keep them safe and happy and well rounded as they enter into adulthood. But they are growing so fast, and I often feel like I’m a little behind, running to catch up. They are becoming more and more independent by the day, yet completely dependent on me at the same time. They are amazing human beings, who I am responsible for. I am their mother and the manager of their lives. Which is a HUGE responsibility. Every single day I make decisions which will affect them.
There are days when I think, what should I do? How should I do it? And will this be the right thing for them? Can I keep them safe? Will they ever stop arguing? (Will I ever stop yelling?!) Then there are days when they are getting along, walking ARM IN ARM down the street, and I breath a little easier, and think “okay, I got this mom thing.”
I have said before, and I will say it again… motherhood is not for the weak at heart. But they are MY heart. I feel EVERY. SINGLE. THING. they feel. Motherhood is constantly checking and rechecking, doubting and doing, moving and trying, and never ever giving up. I will continue doing the best I can. Trusting my instincts … without a book, without a net… hoping and praying I am doing the right thing…