Hot tears ran down my face this morning in the shower.
At this stage of my life, my tears are usually those of joy, sentiment, or occasionally melancholy; but not sad. My unexpected tears on this Monday morning and the depth of my raw emotion took me by surprise. Moments before, I watched my girls sleeping peacefully. Suddenly I was filled with panic realizing that they are thirteen years old. In less than six short years they will be in college. Without warning, I felt the overwhelming need for a parenting mulligan – you know, a do-over, a fresh start, a second chance. Suddenly I questioned every single parenting decision that I’ve ever made. Normal, right?
Some Days Are Hard
Last night I felt very frustrated with my daughters and with myself. As I write this, it is the last week of school before the holiday break. On Sunday I learned that neither of my daughters have finished reading the books for their accelerated reader tests on Tuesday. I mistakenly thought the tests were next Friday. I was annoyed with them for procrastinating, but even more annoyed with myself for not keeping up with their assignments.
I’m sure that was the match that started the “mulligan” candle to burn brightly in my mind. Over the years I’ve wrestled with how much to help with homework. Many of my friends are on top of all their child’s assignments, knowing exactly what’s due when, working diligently to prepare their child for tests. I’ve never had the time, energy, or inclination to do that. I help when they need it, proofread when they ask, and hire tutors when the subject is beyond my expertise.
Because I am talented this way, I was quickly able to convince myself that their unfinished books were evidence of my complete failure as a mother and that every parenting decision that I’ve made was probably wrong. I looked at my sleeping daughters, feeling distraught that they would pay the price for my ineptitude. A good friend assured me that at times she has felt exactly the same way. I felt better because I think she’s an amazing mother.
Since the day of my positive pregnancy test, I’ve loved these two girls completely with all my heart. I’ve read more parenting books than I can count. I’ve done my best to give my girls everything they need in life to be happy and successful. And yet, I still wonder every single day if I’ve made the right parenting decisions or if I’ve given their future therapists a lifetime of material.
When I held my newborn twins, I imagined that their lives were mine to mold and direct. No one told me that they were simply very small humans with their own personalities and their own gifts. I can love them, guide them, teach them, and provide them with opportunities, but ultimately they will be the women they were born to be. I expected them to be just like me. Imagine my surprise when they had their own gifts.
Since the day of my positive pregnancy test, I’ve loved these two girls completely with all my heart.
Sometimes I wish I weren’t such an over-thinker, but I guess without that trait I wouldn’t be me. Over-thinking surely prompted my dramatic reaction this morning. My girls continue to grow, thrive, and surprise me in wonderful ways both because of and in spite of my mothering. My all time favorite “motherhood” quote rings true:
“There is no way to be a perfect mother, but a million ways to be a good one.”
How about you, mamas? Anyone else wishing for a mommy mulligan today?
Contributing Sister Site and Author
Elizabeth is a native of New Orleans, Louisiana, who moved to Orlando 20 years ago after meeting her husband on her one and only Colorado ski trip. They live in Windermere, and are the busy parents of fraternal twin 13 year old daughters. Elizabeth is able to juggle her full-time job and her family life thanks to her supportive and flexible husband, her sense of humor, and a lot of caffeine. Since she hasn’t figured out how to make a living at writing, she’s combined her two passions, mothering and writing, by contributing to the Orlando Moms Blog. When she feels overwhelmed, her husband reminds her of her favorite quote, ‘There is no way to be a perfect mother, but a million ways to be a good one.”