who's the mommy around here anyway?

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Mother's Guilt

Someone once told me that a teenager's attitude towards her parents can be described with this one quote, attributable to whom I do not know, but here it is,
"I hate you, now take me to the mall!"

Laura is in a band. She's into music big-time. Her all- girl band, "Fat-free Milk" has 2 guitarists, one bassist, and their new-found drummer, who lives 40 minutes, and 3 parkways, away.

Today's their first practice. I told Laura that I wasn't going to commit myself to the 40 minute drive. I'm just not that kind of mother. The bassist's mother, however, is that kind of mother and is driving them to their destination. The other guitarist's mother might be that kind of mother, and is picking them up, but she had to be in the area anyway, or so she says. Laura now hates me and compares me unfavorably with the other mothers. So here I am, as usual, with:
Mother's Guilt

"Mother's Guilt" is the guilt that just doesn't end. Am I doing too much, or not enough? Do I give too much or not enough? Am I stifling my child or am I encouraging independent and creative exploration while keeping her safe? AM I CAUSING HER IRREPARABLE DAMAGE AND WILL SHE HATE ME FOREVER? AAARRRRGGGG...

One day, when they are grown, I will apologize to my daughters for the mistakes I made as a parent, and for the hurts I caused them. I will apologize because I think it's the right thing to do. I will ask for their forgiveness. I will apologize as my mother once apologized to me, and hope that they will accept my apology as I accepted my own mom's apology, with the knowledge that she/I did the best she/I could with the gifts and abilities she/I had.

Each successive generation benefits from the mistakes of preceding generations, and parenting skills improve (IMHO). It can be as simple as looking at what your mom did, like threatening you with the hairbrush on your tender rear-end when you misbehaved, and deciding that you'll handle things differently, with time-out instead of corporal punishment. Research is done, books are written, Mommy and Me groups are formed, and we have the opportunity to do better for our kids. Yes, change happens. Yes, progress is made. And yet, and yet, we still make mistakes, we still manage to hurt our most precious charges, however unintentionally, and we still manage to end up carrying around way too much doubt and guilt. Will we never get it right?

How is it that our children somehow survive our deficient parenting to grow up and enter society in a (mostly) productive way and not as convicted felons? I'm sure I'll never know. I'm also sure that, with all my parental power, I may not even have anything to do with it.


  • Everybody makes mistakes. Because you're the parent and Laura is the child, you have the power. One of the biggest things I think you did wrong was seriously impose your fears on me and Laura. I think you were a little overprotective and because of that I feel that I wasn't prepared to face certain things in life. But I love you anyway and overall I'd say you did a pretty good job. Mwah.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:22 AM  

  • My daughter has told me, that I was wayyyy over protective with her when she was younger. Thus making her feel a little insecure about certain things today, as an soon to be 19 year old.

    Thinking back on it though, I really dont think I was overprotective with my kids. So yeah,because I was THE ONLY mom who wouldnt allow her 12 and 10 year olds to walk to the convenient store at 10:30 at night with another group of kids, I was overprotective. Because I never allowed my children to wander the streets without making them check in all the time, I guess I was overprotective. I guess I've been called worse! LOL...

    Being a parent is THE HARDEST job one will ever have. And when you mess up, you mess up big time because its YOUR child that is being damaged. You just do the best you can do, with what you have and pray the rest of it turns out ok in the end.

    By Anonymous Heather, at 8:10 PM  

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