Where do these babies of ours come from?
A question I’m sure I asked my parents at some point. A question I’ve answered when my kids have asked.
But I’m not looking for the easy biological answer here.
I’m looking for the up-at-midnight, tearing-my-hair-out, how-did-we-create-this-being answer.
I love my children. Dearly. They are old souls in young bodies. But there are days when I ask God just who He thinks I am. When I’m not sure I buy into his vision of my maternal capabilities. Today is one of those days.
Don’t overestimate me, Big Man. You know I had to think about this mother thing. That I always knew I wanted children but I had a lot I wanted to accomplish first. That my mother, while she loved me in her way, was not quite cut from some divine maternal cloth.
I thought I was ready when my babies were born. Turns out, I’m not sure we’re ever truly ready.
Not ready for the days when the teachers are calling and e-mailing because the son you’ve raised to be organized, respectful and diligent has shown them nothing but disorganization, a lack of attention and a less than stellar work ethic. And you know some are thinking that if you had only given him the right lecture, instituted the right rewards or consequences, buckled down and really tackled the issue, he’d be flying. You resist the urge to laugh at the oversimplification. As if all of us who have the means and the drive aren’t doing that already.
Not ready for the days when you see the heartbreak that comes from your child trusting someone who was not worthy of that trust. And knowing there’s nothing you can do but sit and watch. At a certain age, they don’t want the hugs and words of wisdom. At a certain age, they just want to figure it out on their own, even if they lack the tools to do so. And you never knew it could be this painful to watch and sit on your hands.
My kids are human with human failings—something my mother never really accepted in me. I know they are imperfect and love them dearly anyway. I see a balance. For every late homework assignment, there is the look of true empathy and compassion on my son’s face if he feels his one true love (our big black Labrador Retriever) is hurting in any way. There is the unexpected hug and “I love you, Mom.” The things he feels free to do with me that I never felt my mother would welcome. The wonderful sense of humor.
I did not have children to have tiny little mini-me’s. I was more enlightened than that. I did not, at least consciously, expect them to be mirror images of me. But I also did not expect to be stymied by the utter divide that can occur between a mother and her child when God seems to have sent you a soul that will challenge yours on every level. Perhaps this is how my mother felt. But I am trying so hard to respond in a more enlightened fashion. Not to shut down emotionally and become critical. To instead accept that none of us is infallible and love understands that. I’m here to shepherd a couple of souls on part of a long life journey. Not to narcissistically create human trophies that are testament to my mothering prowess.
Some of you are scratching your heads right now, wondering why I feel this is so hard. You are the parents for whom I’m sure God has reserved other challenges in life—but your kids may not be among them.
I get that. We each have our own journey.
We love in the same way. We try just as hard. But our journeys are different.
Little souls come to us for a reason. And some of us are given the opportunity to earn extra credit.
May I be worthy of the challenge. Even on the days I don’t think I am.