Have you ever been talking to your kids and stopped and thought, “Wow, I sound just like my Mother”?
I’ve had that, many times, and while I love my mom, for me, it wasn’t just the typical things. There were lots of things that made me step back.
I’ve made many choices over the course of deciding to have kids that were purposefully different than the way I grew up, as an only child, in a small town. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t have a horrible childhood, I was taken care of, had what I needed but I don’t want to have the same kind of relationship with my daughter that I do with my mom. I want the relationship I see my friends having. Lunches with their moms, traveling with them, hearing morsels of wisdom they learned from their mom. I made a decision; I needed to do better if I want more.
For some reason, more so than my son, I am overly critical with my daughter. I have to actually remind myself positive enforcement is good. I have a really hard time being goofy with them. With adults, I am known for my ability to make a fool of myself for the sake of making people smile but with them, it’s like I need to have my “Moms the boss” hat on all the time. I get distracted, have a hard time focusing on just them, getting down and playing with them.
Both my kids talk to me, they tell me stories about their day, I ask questions, I make a point of listening, the last thing I want is to lose this. I feel like if I don’t get better at all the other things, that’s all going to change as they grow because it’s about respect, feeling loved, not just knowing they’re loved. Knowing they can tell me anything.
Over the summer I read the book Mother’s Who Can’t Love by Susan Forward, Ph.D. To say it was enlightening would be an understatement. It was like light bulb after light bulb and I still go through my notes (yes, I’m a nerd who made notes) to remind myself of the things that hit home. I realized by reading this book that I wasn’t going to be able to do this on my own. I read more books, great books, Brene Brown mostly, the end goal being a better me, hence a better mom.
At the prodding of friends, I eventually invested in myself in the way of a therapist. My first appointment was another epiphany. I cannot tell you the weightlessness I felt walking out the doors. I felt validated, I wasn’t actually a crazy person, and on top of that, like it was possible for me to have that thing I wanted most. To be the kind of mom the kids want to come home to, not just when they are small, or tweens or teens but as adults coming home for Sunday dinner.
She sent me home with a really good book that led to even more “a-ha” moments. I’ve had 2 appointments so far, work in progress. I keep reading more books, writing down when I don’t do things the way I’d like to, and trying to figure out what my triggers are.
I’ve got some good plans in place that have changed things for me, small things, but that’s the important part in all of this. To remember I won’t change overnight, it won’t be big things, it’s small steps. My kids know I’m working on myself, I’ve told them and they know Mommy goes to see someone that’s trying to help her be better. I apologize when I mess up, and I do better the next time.
I see the differences between the way I grew up and the way they are growing up. That is what keeps me going.
~ Annonymous AM