Author: angiem, 07 02nd, 2010

It seems like my boy was just born, we had just been discharged from the hospital and were on our way home, the car packed with all types of necessities, our heads crammed with all kinds of practical advice we were already forgetting. Yet, here he is! Already ten, and almost a half. He’s just come home from a weeklong camp, away from us for the first time ever. And I missed him and worried, constantly. in some ways, despite all our reading and all our prayers through the years, and all the advice that we even now receive, we’re still just as clueless as we were then. I look at my parents who had raised five children and at my in-laws who had raised seven, and wonder.  They deserve to be congratulated and respected for this accomplishment, for it wasn’t easy.
My mother’s idealism and desire to fill our lives with goodness and love shaped us into the adults we are.  I reflect upon those carefree childhood days when the only worries we had were which playground we were going to visit, and which friends we were going to play with. She was conscientiously indulgent with her time, with her patience, and with her possessions; nothing was too good for us.
Her gentle rebukes and reminders rarely humiliated our fragile selves. She was fair and consistent in her expectations and her discipline. I try to remember that whenever I lose it and scream my head off for some tiny, inconsequential offense I believe is aimed at me; aimed at showing me what a failure I am as a parent. And I am afraid that the parental will within me, added on to all my ignorant fears, renders my son helpless and angry during the years of his life when he should be untroubled.
Because I don’t want my son disappointed in me as a parent (and to be honest, sometimes I’m too tired, too busy, etc.), I often resort to a dirty little trick: I turn to my husband for his opinion, thus making him the definitive factor in whatever issue is at hand. I resorted to this last night.  For one, I was too exhausted to really go into detail about why a certain behavior is not allowed, and two, it didn’t really seem like such a big deal anyway, so I couldn’t come up with a good enough argument to convince my boy (and my boy is not easily redirected).
My husband did a wonderful job explaining, as he usually does. I cuddled my son next to me on the couch and smiled across the ottoman at my husband, congratulating him for his words of logic.  Yet all the while relieved that I wasn’t the one put on the spot, my words were not the ones objected to.  Not long after, it dawned on me that unless I grow a backbone and stand firm on my own opinions and decisions, my son would still be disappointed.  My role as a mother is not an invisible role, nor a diminished one.  I need to own its existence.  I need to embrace it.  I need to grow in wisdom.  I need to nurture and comfort and love and admonish.  And I need to figure out how. And quick!
P.S. This is a repost with very few changes. You’d imagine I’d gotten smarter in the last year and a half, but it isn’t so. I’m just as clueless.


33 Responses to “Expectations”

  1. Ange Says:

    Oh Angie,
    You are hard on yourself. We are all growing and learning as we go - parents and children included. It took me a while to ‘own’ being a mother. I never felt like those ‘real ones’ until about two years ago. I think I always felt like MY Mother was a mother but not me - I was just Me ;-)
    Since it clicked and fell into place - the whole family relationship has just blossomed. But things don’t happen before they’re ready to.
    Give yourself time to savour your personal revelations ;-) You will be able to share them with your kids one day.

  2. julie Says:

    HI Angie
    Well.. I think that is the beauty of it.. a family… to share the love and sometimes disappointment.. and to have someone else to lean on to do the dirty work!!! I’m sure you are a great mum.. you have that nurturing touch!!

    Have a lovely weekend.. and wonderful 4th July!!! xxx Julie

  3. Susan Deborah Says:

    Ah Angie, I reckon you are a great human being and an equally great mother. From the narrative I read, I can just say that you have a nice way of bringing up your kids. Not much practical advise can be given from me as I am inexperienced and still to be a mother.

    I wish you a lovely week ahead and beautiful moments with your loved ones.

    Joy and love,

  4. Victoria Says:

    Oh Angie, I am feeling so much the same right now. A few things have gone badly for our son at school this week. We talked and talked and shouted way too much (him and I) and handed out the punishment Huzz and I felt necessary. If feels like we are always on at him - do this, don’t do that, behave this way, talk nicely, respect etc etc. So much on his little shoulders. I feel bad for him, but I’m just trying my best to help him through life and show him the best way. We tell him how much he is loved and adored by us and many other people. I’m just trying to find the right way and hope we are doing the right thing. Who knows!? Sounds like you guys found the right combination with your ‘dirty little trick’ though! ;-). Hugs V

  5. brian miller Says:

    the role of the mom is not passity but very active…and there is so much moms add…a great contrast to us dads…each needed in the lives of th little ones…

  6. Lori Says:

    I think mothers should be allowed to be just tired sometimes and give in, avoid the constant debates with the children, look for a few moments of peace. We are mothers but we’re just human, after all, and children should see that side too.

  7. Susan Says:

    That’s very wise, Angie. It isn’t easy. But if not done by you when it’s involving you, your son could possibly grow up as so many men & disrespect/ignore a female’s words/opinions if they differ from his own.

    I know several men very well who have this problem & it has not made their life easier, but much more difficult. At first, it’s quite easy to notice the ill effects on the women in their lives. But what is often missed is that these men are unhappy, too.

    (I am absolutely not crashing on their mothers, who are lovely people & it is a great gift to know them for other reasons).



  8. Karen@SurvivingMotherhood Says:

    Oh, Angie. I hear you on this one!
    I want so badly to ‘get it right’. When my children are adults I want them to look back on their lives and remember me the way you remember your mom. Yes - I want to be prefect!
    But I am not.
    Sometimes I feel like a miserable failure, and sometimes things are going well and I think I *might* be on the right track. But then things go awry again, and I am reminded I can only do my best - and rely fully on the grace of God.
    HE will take us through this time, and HE will grow all of us through the struggle. My grandmother’s words keep encouraging me. She says, “They’re going to be fine, Karen.” By the grace of God, I’m trusting that’s true.
    Hang in there, my friend!

  9. Kori Says:

    You would think that after four kids spanning almost 18 years I would be less clueless, but I am not, not at all. Just when I think I have *it* down, something changes-they change, I change, life changes, and I am left feeling befuddled and inadequate and lacking in almost every way. But: I keep getting up and trying again, over and over and over again, and I hope that it will help.

  10. Allegra Smith Says:

    Roots and Wings. So simple and yet so incredibly hard to accomplish. You need to speak your heart to him, when tired just tell him you are tired and maybe what you are about to say may not be as clear as you hope it should be but that you are counting on him to do his part to understand this.

    While parenting is a shared responsibility the fifty-fifty never seems to work as fifty-fifty. And that is fine too. But it is not a matter of backbone in my opinion. It is a matter of making the child responsible for his own actions without guilt or blame. All that is needed is reparation for a wrong in some agreed upon terms.

    To explain that we are members of a social tribe and must abide by the rules of the tribe shouldn’t be an issue of strong character or selective words. As my nanny used to say “if you want to belong to a club, you must wear their uniform”. I used to tell them that I was tired and obfuscated by many problems but that I needed to talk to them tomorrow. That gave me time to put everything into perspective and for them not to feel that it was my exhaustion magnifying the facts and thus dismissing the consequences as it would often be the case. It worked for me and for them. Of course it may have been a fluke *smile*.

  11. Mary Moon Says:

    This is why that ideally, we have partners as parents. When my own childhood problems raised their ugly heads in my child-rearing (and they will!) my husband was able to wisely step in and help and make me feel so much better.
    And you know what? Really, all our children need to know is that they are loved tremendously and that we expect them and trust them to do what they know is best.
    I swear.

  12. Relyn Says:

    Oh, Angie. Angie. I don’t even know what to say. OK, yes I do. I think I always have something to say. I guess the first is just an assurance that we all have days like that and failings like that. None of us are perfect parents, we just blunder along and do the best that we can. Secondly, is this thing I am positive of. Your son will remember most of all that you loved him. Of that, I am absolutely certain.

  13. Jeanne Says:

    Repost or not I love what you have to say Angie. I have come across this many times over the years and have sat in a similar situation as well. There are just times when two head are better than one and I think it is important that you both share in the discussion when a firm ground has to be made. Relyn is right..he will remember most of all that you loved him and what a very lucky boy he is!

    Happy 4th of July Angie…hope you have a wonderful day!!

    Jeanne xx

  14. krista Says:

    i worry about this, too. all the failings lined up like days scratched on the wall of a prison she wants out of. and then i remember that no child ever thinks their parent is perfect. at least not at the time. kind of takes the pressure off.
    besides, i guarantee you are giving him something he needs that his dad cannot provide. even if you don’t see it.
    oh, and happy fourth. ;-)

  15. Sabine Says:

    Being 2 parents really helps, I think. Not only can you share worries, but exactly as you describe it, sometimes, when everything is too much you can ask your other 1/2 to take over. Nothing wrong with that, I think - as long as the roles don’t become fixed (e.g. ‘Dad’s always angry and shouts and mum’s always good to us’). xoxo

  16. audrey Says:

    it’s nice that your son is not easily redirected. it means with the right teachings he will not be led astray in life when he is out and about in the world.

    i was thinking that maybe a caring mother’s constant concern about parenting well and loving well is a constant reminder of just how important and wonderful a responsability it is. you worry because you care.

    and at the same time we all are only human, we can’t get it 100% right all the time. i think if we can try our best as human beings with a lot of love and God’s blessings all is and will be well. i think God rewards our efforts, and even fixes our mistakes.

    i have a friend who has a mother who was an alchoholic while raising her. you can imagine the chaos that existed while she was growing up. she turned out fine and has a beautiful family of her own. i asked her how she managed to turn out all right as her mother was almost always drunk (unfortunately). she told me that her mother really loved her and she felt it and knew it always, in spite of theirproblems. i was amazed. amazed at the power of love!

    I think when we love, God fills in the spaces where we are human…

    so don’t worry so much dear You!! you are lovely and human.


  17. Diane Says:

    We’re all still trying, learning and growing….. :O)

  18. Ligia Says:

    love your honesty Angie!!!!!!

  19. Susu Paris Chic Says:

    Being a mom is a life-long challenge. You do your best. That is amply sufficient. I love reading you dear. Such deep thoughts that commenting on them seems almost lame, but I do it since I want to let you know that I pop in to have some gal time with “my lady”.

  20. Sarah Laurence Says:

    Parenting is a process. I think good mothers like you question it and seek to improve.

  21. Bridgette Says:

    Half the battle of being a good parent is having them yourself. You’re doing a good job:)

  22. Holly L Says:

    Angie so much of this rings true to me. My son just turned 9 and we are having a real struggle/power play/figuring out how to deal with his unique personality. I often find myself losing it over a simple matter and ask myself how can I do this better…am I failing him. This is really eating at me right now. Thanks for sharing your own story.

  23. Kari Says:

    I have a 10 yr old daughter and it gets tough at times. it is a process and I think as long as we are always learning and improving.

  24. Francesca Says:

    Parental will and ignorant fears is what most parents have, that’s why a year later your post is up to date. Since always. I don’t believe the perfect parents exist, I believe in good parents who do their best and question all the time their doings. I really love this post.

  25. cathi Says:

    All our children really want from us is to be loved, to know that we are there for them when they need us the most. We as parents do the best we can. We are human - we make mistakes like screaming our heads off (as I have definitely done in the past, now not much as my kids are grown.) By reading your blog, I just know that you and your husband are wonderful parents who are giving your children what they need the most - your time well spent with them and your love. Don’t be so hard on yourself ! xxoo :)

  26. Christie Says:

    It’s so wonderful for you to share your feelings about motherhood.
    So often I feel the same, wishing I knew more, acted better, spent more time, had more patients, etc.
    I think your son will admire you no matter what. You so obviously love him dearly, I’m sure he feels it.
    xoxo, Christie

  27. Bunny Says:

    Motherhood is so beautiful and challenging. It is the one thing in life I hope I never fail at. I beat myself up over every little thing, still after 16 years of parenting I worry…Its no big deal if My soufflés flop but I can’t fail at parenting. Glad to know I am not alone in my concerns.

  28. Englishvers Says:

    I enjoy reading your deep, penetrating thoughts. Ah, the joys and sadness of motherhood. I think your son loves and appreciates you. Warmly wishes you a fun weekend!;-)

  29. Make Do Style Says:

    I’m the same, I do think it works out all okay. Times are different, more challenges and I bet you are the most wonderful mother ever xx

  30. Jessica Says:

    You’re not clueless. You sound very conscientious about raising your children, which is a good thing. And you may not remember, but your mom probably lost it a few times herself. :-)
    I know that seeing my mom as human is something I appreciated. We need to be strong, and it’s true, we need to have a backbone, but we also need to be ourselves. Kids who know their parents love them…I don’t think they’re ever disappointed. :-) Love covers a bunch of stuff.

  31. angiem Says:

    Thank you, dear friends. Your comments and your support mean so much.

  32. Ava Says:

    You are a wonderful mother Angie.

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