It strikes me how we live our lives, determined to end the cycle – whatever “cycle” we so choose to blame our ancestors for placing us in. We think we have all the answers. We believe we’ve found the way. We vow to give our kids a better life, to do better than our own parents did.
We come into parenthood with the best of intentions, armed with the knowledge of all the things our parents did wrong and everything we think we’ll do different. But what we fail to realize is the fact that times have also changed since we were kids, therefore, so must our methods of parenting – and then, even if we do, the outcome is still not guaranteed and, unfortunately, is not always what we’ve intended.
It doesn’t matter if you are a Democrat or Republican, pro- or anti-vaccine, into homeschooling, virtual learning, or doing school in-person – raising kids in any day or age is a Herculean task. Just as soon as you start to find your footing, it seems as if the earth shifts again. Doing “the best thing for your family” seems like a frustrating impossibility, riddled with severe consequences. How are we ever supposed to raise strong, resilient, independent adult children in a world like this?
There has never been a time in our world’s wild history that has ever yielded the “perfect circumstances” in which to raise the “perfect child”. And, for the record, there’s no such thing as perfect children – nor any perfect parents.
Regardless of when this great responsibility bestows itself upon you, you’re going to do the best that you can – and you’re going to make mistakes. That’s just the way that it is. Don’t beat yourself up over it, that’s not going to help. Give yourself some credit. Allow yourself some grace.
I was talking with a friend recently, who is currently struggling with her teenage daughter. The arguments and behaviors she relayed to me brought back memories of myself and my own daughter. The funny thing is, while our life stories are a lot alike in so many ways, the decisions she and I ultimately made as mothers were completely different – yet, the end result is still very much the same. So, again, I implored her to give herself some grace.
It’s easy to look back and question decisions
you have made in the past, but it’s unfair to punish yourself for them. You can’t blame yourself for not knowing back then what you know now – and, the truth is, you made every decision for a very specific reason, based on what you believed was best at that time. As we grow up, we learn and evolve. Maybe the person you are now would have done things differently back then? Hindsight is always 20/20, but you can’t live your life well if you’re constantly looking behind you. Forgive yourself for the mistakes you made when you simply didn’t know any better and understand that, no matter what, no mother is a better mother for your child than YOU!
The truth is, you can not predict the future or foresee what the ripple effect of your actions may be. You’ve got to trust in your journey, make the best decisions you can based on the knowledge you have at the time, and hold onto the hope that it will all work out in the end. The rest is out of your control.
Let’s be honest – no mother is ever completely a child’s idea of what a mother should be – and I suppose it works the other way around as well. Looking back on my own family life and upbringing, despite everything, we didn’t do badly by one another. We did as well as most. I wish my mother were here so I could tell her that I finally know this – so I could tell her that I forgive her…and then, one day, ask my own daughter to forgive me.