My kids thought I was perfect.
I held them. Loved them. Fed them. Clothed them. Kept them safe from a crazy world.
It wasn’t until their little bitty selves became their own little bitty self thinkers that they started to see I wasn’t perfect. Until that happened, I could do no wrong. For some reason, as parents, we encourage these little people to start thinking all on their own. To have ideas. To process thoughts. To ask questions.
As a parent I had to watch as my children learned to step out of the confines of their shelter: home. And from home they stepped in to a world where other people have ideas and thoughts. And share them with others, like my kids.
I watched as my kids went from thinking I was perfect, or at least “pretty okay” to being horrified that I was the one in charge of their world. As babies they both woke up with a smile on their face every day. I was so blessed! They both slept through the night, the oldest from the day she came home from the hospital, the youngest within a week of coming home from the hospital. That’s right. Through the night. I know, I hear some jealousy and grumbling, but it’s the truth.
My kids liked me.
Then. Life changed.
School. And life without me.
Suddenly….I seemed…..different to them.
I was bossy. And controlling. And demanding. And not fair. And I wasn’t their friend. And I was not perfect.
I admit, I confess, I own it. I was all of these things.
I bossed around my kids telling them what to do: pick this up, put that away, do your homework, take a shower, Eat. Brush your teeth. Do the dishes.
I was controlling: I took them where I wanted them to be. I picked them up when I believed it was time to come home. I told them where they were not going to go. I didn’t let them do something I thought was a bad idea for a child to be doing.
I was demanding: I expected manners. I expected respect. I expected them to be children and me to be the parent.
I was not fair: I did not let them do everything that everyone else was doing. I did not let them do something just because they wanted to.
I was not their friend: there was no budging on this. I was not their friend. I was their parent.
I was not perfect: the hardest one and yet the easiest thing to own. I was not perfect. I made mistakes. Frequently enough that in hindsight I roll my eyes and drop my head.
My children and I lived through these changes. And it would be fair to say my children thought they hated me. And it would be fair to say I knew it. And it would be fair to say that …it was okay.
From the first time I discovered I was pregnant, I was prepared for it.
I knew that I didn’t know enough to be a perfect parent. I feared what I didn’t know. I fretted over making mistakes.
And I counted on one thing and one thing alone to get me through parenting, and my children through my raising them.
I was the mom.
I was The Mom.
I was love.
I was the first love. I was the love that all other loves would be judged by.
Not only was I bossy, controlling, demanding, unfair and not perfect…
I was in love with my children. I was love for my children. I loved them through my parenting. I loved them through their world discovery and learning I wasn’t perfect.
I knew they didn’t hate me. They hated not being in control if their own lives. They hated not being independent. They hated having someone tell them what to do. They hated feeling confined. They hated not feeling independent. They hated the frustration of being caught between childhood and adulthood. They hated not being able to stop bad things from happening to all of our lives.
My children….were just like me.
And I loved them all the more because I understood what they were feeling.
My kids just thought they hated me. I knew better.