My poor dear children. Does that question echo in your ears as it does in mine? Sometimes when I am beating myself up as a parent I wonder if you are all marked by my thoughtless words and deeds. Is your self-confidence stunted forever? Why didn’t I check before we left the house? Who knows? Each time I asked, at least one of you would give me a stricken look, clap your hand over your mouth and mumble through closed lips for the duration of the outing. The question always occurred to me when we were half-way to our destination, half-way prepared and a half hour late. That seemed to be the story of my life as a mother.
For me, this damning question typifies innumerable slights and insults to your small psyches. Maybe your injuries were inflicted differently than I remember. Each of you carries your signature wound from the childhood wars. I cop to them all.
And I had such dreams. Pregnant with my first child and preparing the nursery I saw nothing ahead but Parenting straight out of that magazine, a home from Good Housekeeping and a family portrait to die for. I sewed, I read Dr. Spock, I dreamed, and it all went awry shortly after the first labor pain. I was totally doomed after the fourth birth. My plan for excellence was still alive but not executed well.
I don’t notice that you hold a grudge, but I hold the memories. Can we have a blanket forgiveness here? Can you believe I loved you? Can you realize that I never woke up in the morning with the intention of screwing you up? Have I told you that I’m sorry? Have I atoned for my mistakes?
Yikes, probably not! With the vagaries of conversation and lapses in all human communication, I probably heap insult on to injury each time I see you. I may even poke at the scabs unknowingly.
Okay, here’s a tip: don’t give weight to what I say. You don’t need a “Mom” voice anymore. Let me be just another person in your life. I really DON’T know what is best for you, even when I give advice. I don’t mind being a voice in the chorus. You each lead your own life in better ways that I could have dreamed.
I’ll forgive myself, too. I haven’t done it all wrong. When I think of you I think of successes: each of you and who you are. You can be assured that I am one person in this world who cherishes you every day of your life. I admire how you move through the world. I LIKE you.
Rub that on your scars.