Last night as I was putting my youngest to bed without dinner (he was just too tired to eat), I was thinking about writing a post entitled "I Am Not the Best Mom." And I was thinking of all the reasons that was true. Here's a short summary of how that post would've gone.
I wasn't the girl that dreamed of having little look-a-likes running around someday. Sure the idea occurred to me over the years. How cute would it be to have a little girl that looks like me or a little boy that was ALL boy? But these thoughts were not something I ever felt would come to fruition. Not because I didn't WANT kids per se. More because I understood that impact a parent could have on a child. I understood how easy it would be to "ruin" a child for life. And I felt I was too selfish for a child and that I always would be. I see other mommas that have always known they wanted babies to love. I just wasn't one of them.
I struggle with parenthood. Not because I don't enjoy being a parent but because I wasn't given the adequate skills to handle parenthood positively. I wasn't given the examples of what it meant to be a great parent. This sounds an awful lot like I didn't want children. But as soon as I found out I was pregnant with Ethan, I knew I would love him and do my best to provide him with a good, loving, stable atmosphere. And I knew I'd try like hell to guide him in his journey toward adulthood in a way that would result in an upstanding, respectable adult. And I do try! I'm never going to be Suzie Homemaker. I'm always going to struggle. And that's okay.
So, why the summary? (because I could say much on the subject). A simple conversation with my oldest brought tears to my eyes and made me realize that maybe I'm not the best mom, but I am a good mom and I am giving Ethan the things I so wanted to give him. He feels loved and secure and safe in our home. He feels comfortable being who he is and he knows that we love him unconditionally. And at the age of four, that's what he needs to feel. It's what he needs to know.
Every night, I lay with Ethan after we read a book. Dad leaves the room, and Ethan and I lay together. We often talk about this or that; sometimes, we just lay there. Just the two of us. It's something I've done since he moved to his toddler bed. When he was a toddler, I'd lay the top part of my body next to him, with the other half kneeled down on floor because I didn't want to break his little bed. When he moved to his "big" bed, it was so much easier. And I imagine we'll continue this ritual until he no longer wants his Mommy to lay with him. Because it's important. And last night, Ethan proved that point.
As we lay there in his tent that sits on his bed, he said, "Parents that don't love their kids never lay with them or read to them or break wishbones with them or do science experiments with them because they don't want to do anything with their kids, so it's a good thing you love me!"
Tears welled up in my eyes as I responded, "Well, people parent different sweetie."
"Yeah, but parents that don't love their kids don't want to do anything with them. They just want to be away from their kids. You like to do things with me because you love me," he explained.
"Yes, I do. Very much. And I think you're probably right."
The conversation moved on to the next thing. But I'm still thinking about the wisdom of my four year old. And I'm thinking about how right he is and how many children out there don't have parents that are willing to spend time with them. They don't have parents that are driven to foster their children's interests. And while there are many reasons for this and doesn't mean all of these parents don't love their children, I also know that in some cases, these children are seen as burdens rather than mini-extensions of their parents. My heart aches for those kids.
But through a simple conversation with my oldest, I find myself reassured that I am doing something right. That all the time and effort I put into being a good mom is paying off. That my son will grow up with such loving memories of his childhood. And that, truly is priceless.