Well, today is Mother’s Day, and neither my daughter nor my son are anywhere near El Paso to help me celebrate.
Missing them? Yes. Wistful for the days when they were bringing me homemade cards from school? Of course.
But since I can’t see them and go to some nice brunch at the club, I’ve decided to have my own glorious celebration of motherhood. Today, I am going to simply sit back and be proud of what I worked toward: having happy, healthy, caring kids.
Nothing is more glorious in life than seeing your children become wonderful, effective, successful adults. After all that angst and worry! Who wudda thunk it?
Rebecca lives in Thailand with her husband and two children and pursues development work for Third World countries. I am so proud of her every time I see strangers warm up to her and immediately recognize that there is something special about her: a beautiful soul and open heart.
Creed pilots helicopter medical rescue missions for the Air Force. He has always put himself in positions to help others. When he was young, he spent an entire night outside in the freezing cold woods helping a distraught and depressed youngster.
I’m sure many life experiences contributed to my children becoming wonderful human beings. They were probably shaped by our good schools here in El Paso, our rich multicultural heritage and the blessings of intellect and common sense.
It’s likely that their grandparents’ positive influence gave them their optimistic worldviews. Perhaps putting them through character-building adversity when their parents divorced gave them strength.
But just for today, I’m going to pretend that it is all because I have been a great mother!
Surely they didn’t grow up to be capable, responsible, delightful adults without me doing something good, right?
As I look back, I see that the actions that I was mostly unaware of, the parenting that I did not have to think much about, were probably the influences that made the greatest impact on the kids.
Conversely, the areas I have most worried about and regretted not doing better, those areas probably did not really matter at all.
You can see my personal balance sheet, below left.
What would you put on your own balance sheet of parental successes and regrets?
I know that this week’s column is not about fashion, but nothing is more important than family, and a holiday like this gives us a chance to reflect and think about our loved ones, no matter where they are.
You know, we all hear women worry if they are doing the right thing for their children and if their kids will turn out well and so forth.
Maybe this Mother’s Day, those moms can take a moment to pat themselves on the back.
They are probably doing a much better job at parenting than they think!
What made a difference
- Reading to them from a very young age
- Laughing with them
- Involving them in outreach to others, like the poverty-level South El Paso family we helped for years or Boy Scout service work
- Being willing to let them go, instead of holding on tight
- Never giving up on working to be a better human being myself
Regrets I can finally dismiss
- Not taking cupcakes to every school function like the ‘good’ moms
- Not constantly praising them. In some houses, kids are praised so lavishly that they lose their inner motivation – and ‘good job’ or ‘you are the best’ lose their meaning.
- Not being much help with science fair projects. They came up with great stuff on their own – and the judges knew it.
- Worrying about them. All my concern did not help one whit. In fact, all my worrying ever did was communicate to them that I didn’t think they could do something.
- Not helping my son with his homework. Instead, I sent him to his sister – and occasionally felt guilty about it. Not to worry, he graduated at the top of his high school and Air Force Academy classes in spite of me.