Improving on Yesterday

“I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.” Maya Angelou

Dearest Child,

Maya’s  words wash over me in a healing shower of relief.

I have been careful in my parenting not to fall back on the phrase, “I did my best”, because I think it is a conversation stopper. Saying those words somehow seems an excuse, a panacea to me as a parent offering no solace to you, my child. If my best didn’t work for you – what then?

And I know that sometimes it couldn’t have worked. I didn’t know the words. I didn’t have the skills. I couldn’t comprehend my own feelings – let alone yours. How could I be there for you in a meaningful way?

I couldn’t.

It’s not that I didn’t want to be. But as a parent I was a child. As a mother I was dealing with issues with my own mother while looking around me – trying to sop up knowledge and experience. I was learning from neighbors, the books I was reading, and later the parenting information I gleaned at PTA meetings. I inched forward, backtracked, and forged ahead.

And I learned from each interaction. I was watched you and your reactions. Sometimes my mistakes were immediately visible and sometimes correctable.

Other times I was locked into my own fears.

It’s painful to look back from here and have flashes of myself peeking out at your world from the confines of my lack of experience, of education, and, yes – of money. Baffled and intimidated I nevertheless was determined to learn.

Through it all my love for you is unchanging. I loved you as a newborn and saw you for the first time. And I love you now as a parent having raised your own children. Its what binds us to our history and creates understanding. I know you still need my love as I need yours.

I’ll keep knowing more and doing better.




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