Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Good Enough Mom

Before I had children, I was sure I would be a better mother than my own mother was. Not that I had a bad mother. Quite to the contrary; in most areas she was probably far above average. She didn't work and was always there for my brother and me (not that you can't be "there" for your children and work as well). We knew, without a doubt, that we were important and valued. We had family dinners every night, we took family vacations...I had a picture-perfect childhood. But my mom grew up in a stoic German family where feelings were not discussed, anger was rarely expressed, and tears were never shed. So, as a relatively emotional child, I felt a little misunderstood. And my parents never said, "I love you." And by never, I mean never. Okay, they said it once, in church, when instructed to do so by the priest during his sermon (but they were clearly uncomfortable). So, I was certain that I would be much more effusive and expressive with my children. And I am. But, on my best days, I'm not a better mother than my own mother was. Now that I'm a mother, I'd be grateful just to equal her. My children hear "I love you" daily, both from me and from their father. I don't need to repeat my mother's "mistakes" because I've come up with plenty of my own. I'm much crabbier than my mother, and probably more house isn't nearly as organized and my kids' hair is much messier than mine was as a child (and that's just a start)! I often wonder if my children are looking into their futures and imagining that they will be a better mother than I am...and in what particular area they hope to "better" me. I know that my children feel empowered to express their emotions without undue judgement or censure, so I've accomplished (or rather, am accomplishing) one of my greatest goals as a mother. And perhaps one of the greatest joys of motherhood has been to hear my children tell their grandparents, "I love you" and watch as my parents, so reticent for so long, comfortably reply back, "I love you, too!"

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