My son turns 18 this week and with that is bringing a lot of reflection. I started the morning hysterically crying and FaceTiming my friend. The only person I know that understands my thoughts and feeling and who has lived with my children and I for years. “Once they grow up and move away you never get them back” is the main theme of my heartbreak today. I raise all my kids to be free thinkers and as independent as possible. So, naturally you want them to be ok without you. You want them to grow up. You raise them to not repeat your mistakes and raise them based on what you wish you had. That being said I would like to share the mistakes and wins I have made over the years. Lessons I learned from a first born.
Mistake-I pressured my kids to be the best at everything. I pressured them to not only make straight A’s but to be the top in percentile in the U.S. They rose to the occasion. I spent all my free time teaching them things. My kids could read before their peers and on a higher level, in robotics, on the math team, and in gifted. They never got in trouble at school and I regularly had parents ask what I did to have such well behaved and academically stellar kids. I had them in art, Spanish, karate, sports, etc. I looked like a star mom but they were exhausted. I thought I was preparing them for their future when really it transferred over to their older years where any kind of imperfection is felt like a major failure.
Win-I talked to my son about everything all the time. We talked about the different types of clouds, religion, sex, respect, and anything he asked, and at any age. We used appropriate terms like “penis” and “vagina” and we had discussions about what is natural and when its appropriate. There wasn’t anything that was off limits to talk about in my house. There still isn’t anything that is off limits.
Mistake-I was never really a voice raiser but when my son was in his teens I became one. Not often, but in those super heated debates I would. I would look up at this 6 foot human not realizing he’s only 14. He looked like a gown man, he talked like a gown man, but he was still a young child looking up to his mom as an example. And this “example” occasionally lost her shit any by “occasionally” I mean often.
Win- I was in the front seat of his life. I was homeroom mom, dugout mom, and volunteered. I would have him do charity work together. My child would never have perfect attendance bc if he was allowed 10 days we took 10 days. We went on dates, we stayed in and played video games, but we took every moment we could to spend time together.
Mistake-My biggest mistake by far was that I chased love. I was so scared my kids would never have a consistent male in their lives that I stayed in a bad relationship with a horrible example of what love was. In my mind I thought it gave me the ability to get to be a mommy without having to work the 12 hour days 6+ days a week I was doing. But because of that my children have never had an example of a healthy relationship from anyone. Their homes weren’t peaceful. Their parents didn’t coparent (still don’t) or do whats best and they still suffer from that.
Win- I got the strength to be alone instead of needing to be with someone. My kids do see that I would rather have no one than a bad someone, that I am ok alone, and that you can recover from the worst situation.
Mistake-I raised my children to be overly cautious of people and to see the bad in the world. I projected my fear of people hurting me onto them. I created that reality by being around people of low character. Then, when a snake would act like a snake, I would say….see people are bad.
Win-I apologized when I was wrong and often. Kids are smart and deserve respect. I still have to check myself more often than I should they forgive me. I try not to make excuses and just do whatever I can to rectify the situation.
Mistake-I was too nice. I let too much slide with their dads. I was timid. I was stupid. I thought I was doing what was best but I was only doing what was best for my peace, not their lives. I should have fought, I should have stood up, bc in the end people don’t appreciate if you lay down while they walk on you.
Parenting is hard. Its doing the best you can with what you know. It is loving your minis and being strong enough to stop whatever cycle your family has went through for generations. It is caring enough to say….I am going to heal this and it ends with me. It is respecting your kids dreams and opinions as theirs and not projecting what you want. It is your legacy left behind. It is so much fun. It is so heartbreaking. It is so hard.
Happy Birthday, son! I hope you forgive your mom for my mistakes, appreciate me for our wins, and always love me through both.