hernewshoes linked to an LJ post, Why being a Mother is like being a writer, which I enjoyed. The end of it particularly struck me.
10. When someone hurts your child, it hurts. There is no way around this. The very hard part is accepting that your child will have to learn to deal with pain, and that the only way to protect them from experiencing pain is to put them away in a drawer and never let them see the light of day. Letting your fear for your child close off avenues because of the possibility of pain means that your child will not have those same avenues to the possibility of joy. (This does not mean physical pain or beatings or deliberate emotional abuse and things that are actually close to life-threatening because those, you avoid as if your life depended on it.)I got wrapped up in other stuff yesterday, so I didn't get to e-mailing my mom details of why she's such a great mom, but this reminds me a lot of what I love and appreciate so much about the way that my parents raised me and my brother. (My parents are obviously each their own person, but it was very much a co-parenting endeavor, so it feels weird to separate them out when praising how I was raised unless I'm telling specific stories.)
11. But... sometimes, just sometimes, at your child's concert, or at the park when he stops to help another crying child get down from the monkey-bars without any prompting from you, you will pause, and you will look at him, and you will see him. You will see him as he is, not as you intended him to be, and you will see that what he is, is beautiful, and you will feel, for just a moment, that you did something right, that in spite of the fact that you lost control of your words or you let a scene play out badly, you've managed to achieve something incredibly precious and beautiful.
And maybe other people won't see him that way. Maybe they won't experience it the way you hoped it would be experienced. But for that moment, it doesn't matter, because for that moment, being a mother is the best job in the world.
I've made plenty of mistakes (and continue to do so), and I am so grateful that my parents allowed me the space to make those mistakes -- and that they gave me a solid enough background (ethics, pragmatism, self-worth, etc.) that these mistakes were minor ones in the grand scheme of things, which I could learn from and which didn't cause me or others tremendous harm. And I am grateful that I always knew without a doubt that I was loved wholly and that no matter what I did, my parents would still love me and offer me help and comfort. I didn't/don't always choose to tell them about the bad decisions/mistakes I make, but I know that nothing I could ever do would stop them from loving me. I find myself thinking of that bit from Paul about how nothing can separate us from the love of God, and hey, at Children's Time at CWM yesterday, Tiffany asked the children (and the congregation) to think of ways that Mommies and God are similar.
"For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[Or nor heavenly rulers] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:38-39, NIV)
In rereading the passage I quoted at the beginning, the author is actually talking more about allowing your child to go out into the world and maybe get hurt by others, but I think the two issues are connected -- my parents let me make my own choices, and sometimes those choices led to me getting hurt ... but I was allowed the freedom to go out and have those experiences (was in fact encouraged to grow into my own person, with my own thoughts and ideas and decisions). And my mother gets fierce Mother Bear protective when I get hurt by someone, but I'm really grateful that she doesn't rush in to avenge me, that she lets me be a grown up and deal with my own shit (though I know that I can always call/visit and ask for comfort and/or advice no matter what she's dealing with herself -- because she is a saint).
And I can (and do) frequently list any number of positive characteristics I have which I can directly attribute to one or the other of my parents, so I think how well my brother and I turned out really speaks well of my parents (I'll take the blame for my flaws :) ).