A Mother's Day Message on Live Action Parenting
-by Carol White Llewellyn, Editor, Beyond the Nest
Dear KidsOutAndAbout.com Moms -
Was that I you I heard muttering under your breath, saying something about not being a good mother?
I thought so.
I don't know why, but I've heard a lot--too many--friends who are GREAT mothers "admit" that recently. Actually, I don't know many women who haven't mumbled that at one time or other. You're in good company.
Perhaps that thought ran through your mind because you were late taking your daughter to her dance class, or because you missed your son's concert due to a work conflict. Maybe your kids are six months overdue on their dental check-ups, or you're not home in time to help your kids with homework. Perhaps you couldn't afford that one special birthday present your son really wanted, or you lost patience with your daughter over her indecision or insolence. There are thousands of reasons with think ourselves unworthy or unfit mothers.
But if you subscribe to KidsOutAndAbout.com, I'm guessing you're actually a pretty terrific parent...probably better than most. Maybe just a wee bit imperfect. Most parents are.
Parenting is a lot like playing video games. I know whereof I speak, since my daughters are 22, and on to the next phase of their lives. That means that as a "game playing" parent, I've "advanced" to the Zoom version of Parenting: I can look on and advise, but the contols to the game have been forever removed, almost overnight.
If you read KidsOutAndAbout.com, you're probably still in the Live Action phase of playing. The thing about gaming is, it comes with no players manual. Oh, you can find tips, tricks and hacks online and in books, but the ABCs of playing--Advisor and Advocate, Butler, Chef, Chauffeur and Cheerleader--are all learned only by the trial and error version of playing.
And the problem with that is that the rules keep changing as you play.
I remember a video game my daughters particularly enjoyed when they were young. It was called Animal Crossing. You wandered through the game as a character (or avatar, if you prefer), without rhyme or reason, undertaking activities, without knowing why or what you were doing. When you ran into an apple tree and shook it, time after time, loads of money would come floating down. UNTIL the time you shook it and bees swarmed out!
That illustrates the reality of Live Action Parenting. Think about the treat you give your child that always elicits a smile, until the time you're suddenly accused of sabotaging her diet or trying to throw him off his wrestling weight.
Bottom line? You just have to accept that you'll never be perfect at Live Action Parenting. But that's okay. Try to remember that they may not always remember the loving things you do for them with their mind, but they'll always remember those things with their heart. And that's where it counts most.
And what of all the "goofs," "mishaps," and "mistakes? "Oh, your kids will remember those things until the end of time! But one day...probably some 20 years down the road... those upsets will become fodder for loving laughter and happy memories.
So to all of you wonderful Moms out there, may you face your parenting "imperfections" with grace, laughter, and self-forgiveness, and may your children see you for how really great you are!
I wish you and your family a Happy Mother's Day!
Carol White Llewellyn is the Editor of Beyond the Nest.com, featuring Arts, Culture and Recreation for those whose children have flown the nest.