I've been a momma for 919 Mondays, 919 Fridays, 919 Saturdays and 919 Sundays. 918 Tuesdays, 918 Wednesdays and 918 Thursdays. That's 6430 days total and 385800 in minutes. That's almost half of my living days on this planet.
When my babygirl came along, my purpose in life shifted. Immediately...and not subtly. I instantly had a new role, a job to do with no breaks or vacations and guaranteed heartache. There were so many new things to be aware of, alert for and sometimes terrified of. The flip side was that I was born again into a world of wonder...where magic was a part of every day and a single smile could change everything. And I mean EVERYTHING.
I've spent the majority of those 385800 minutes completely enthralled. And I really mean it when I say majority. Ashleigh went through her evil bloodthirsty baby phase and threw a single tantrum when she was two. She snuck boys over the fence when she was 13 and got into a fist fight that same year. Devin wouldn't let me put him down the entire first year of his life and learned way too quickly to be the instigator to his sister's easy to light fuse.
I've always known that I was doing a good job as a mom. I knew that my kids had great inner strength, kindness and integrity...hunger for life, for fun and for stimulation. Even when we've differed so vastly, I knew that we were from the same mold and I could trust them to be right where they were supposed to be. I'm a great advocate for making mistakes. I think that mistakes are life's only true teachers and in the making of them, we learn our boundaries...what our consciences will allow us to do and how we are willing to make other people feel.
I love being a mom more than anything else.
The June before last, I started to lose my footing. Ashleigh started to drive and all of the sudden my role changed without warning. There was new freedom for her to explore and her friends became paramount. She drove her brother wherever he needed to go and they became a tight little unit that I admired and frankly, yearned to be part of still. I would come home from work with a head full of evening plans only to find that there already were plans...and I wasn't part of them. My confidence as a parent stumbled. I grappled with how to ensure the family was nurtured as a whole while respecting their independence and giving them room to grow. This was the time frame when I made the majority of my mistakes as a parent...but I learned from those mistakes and I used them to in turn teach them. We survived. We thrived.
A year later, this past July, we hit stumbling block #2. My kids were lying to me. Consistently. At 17 and 15 1/2 I was completely unprepared and dumbstruck. I could feel every beat of my heart for five of the worst, most painful days of my life. I thought I knew them and here we were...at a complete impasse. On day six I put the power into their hands to stop lying, show me who they really were and promised nothing short of unconditional love in return for nothing less than unconditional truth. There have been times since then that I've been terribly horribly sorry for that deal. I'm sure they have been just as sorry...but I think that it was the greatest lesson of all. I believe that knowing they were accountable for telling me their truth has on more occasion than one helped them to make better choices knowing they would have to speak words about it later. Unconditional love does not mean that my job of nurturing, guiding and advising has stopped. Neither has rewarding or punishing. Sometimes even talking loudly to get my point across. But all the while, they know that in the end, they can count on my love...and I know that I know them.
My role has morphed slowly and surely as the kids grew up and continues to morph as they continue to grow. It has changed from all parent to mostly parent with the other part equally consisting of friend, mentor and confidante. A lovely, lovely mixture that makes me tear up just thinking about it. We don't have to be perfect, we just have to be authentic with one another and always respectful.
Somewhere around November, with my son approaching 16 and a 7 day cruise in our near future, I tried to loosen the role even further. I tried on a 50%/50% role. I let more behaviors go than I had before. I turned a blind eye. I joined in on things that shocked my kids. I felt so lost doing these things...even when they were fun! I felt so adrift from that strong confidence I had as a parent and I tried to wait it out. I tried to push down the discomfort and pretend that this new role was a better fit than it actually was. I was rewarded. I was called cool. I was confided in even more and all of the sudden, the kids wanted to be around me an awful lot more. I had tried to compete with their absolutely cool dad and I had held my own...hung with the big dogs.
I HATED EVERY MOMENT.
I didn't bring these precious little beings into this world to be their buddy during their adolescence. I brought them into this world to love and nurture them, to teach them and to instill love and truth and faith and trust and adventure into them. I brought them into this world to grow and attract their people to them...to create friendships and develop relationships with other people and the world around them. I brought them into the world to go out into it always knowing that they have a momma in their corner, rooting them on and dependable in her values and unconditional love and support.
I sat them down and told them that. One balked. One rejoiced. In the end, they both expressed gratitude, understanding, acceptance and in turn they each showed me in their own unique ways that they get it...they get me...they get us. We are back.
As with all great parenting moments, there is a small tingle of doubt and it's only time that reveals if your tactic and belief were as right on as you thought they were. That day was today. My kids are in big trouble with their dad for an array of offenses. They are confused. They are struggling with why their bff and drinking buddy is punishing them for breaking rules. They are bereft and railing against what feels to them like such injustice and like being stabbed in the back by their best friend.
This isn't about how superior I am or how terrible he is...but it's definitely pertinent information when it comes to what happens next...and it's super important in that it is currently sending me the message that my parenting instincts were right on.
The punishment at my house will match his. I believe in that consistency and I know without a doubt that for the lesson to stick, it has to be lived 24/7 and not wishy washy by some court ordered custody/visitation schedule. But what I believe and know with all of my heart is that my role as MOSTLY parent with the other part equally consisting of friend, mentor and confidante has assured these precious little beings of mine that the punishment is consistent with the crime and it's their momma punishing them, not their best buddy who promised during a mutual drunk to "keep it real."
I've made my mistakes, fessed up to them and fixed things when I've broken them. It's their turn...and I can't wait to see how beauty~full it's going to be. They've got a hell of an example to live up to...and I'm proud to say that the example is me!