My mother refused to let me fail. So I insisted. ~Walker Percy, The Second Coming
This isn’t about my relationship with my mother. For all intents and purposes that relationship is best left between me and my therapist and in my journal, lest my mother actually read my blog…It’s just dramatic flair, mom, I swear.
Ahem. Yes, well back to the subject at hand. No this has to do with me and the post God has assigned me to, flailing and failing, ‘motherhood’. I don’t care if you’re Donna Reed herself, nobody gets it right all of the time. In some ways I will champion my kids, just like in some other ways I will fail them. Because I’m a flawed human. And, as perfect as they are in my eyes, so are they. That being said, still…
How does one, who is so good at doing failure herself, and knowing that my children watch and learn from those failures, keep them from repeating the same cycles? I pose this question openly, with a heavy emphasis on the oh shit, because my oldest daughter is exactly like me. I don’t see – thank the good Lord above – the BP. But the areas where I battle the most with myself (albeit heightened by the BP) – my weaknesses, my patterns, my emotional responses, my lack of interest – she battles them as well. I can’t help but wonder if this is a you lead by example mom or a more inherent repertoire of personality traits I passed down through genetics. Are behaviors really genetic anyway? My thoughts are leaning towards the ‘No stupid, you really did teach this curriculum.’
Do you know what’s worse? I am severely challenged as a person to deal with these things. Those things I hate about myself, I have no patience for in others. Especially of my children. What kind of person admits that out loud?! Well, one that has enough humility to admit it to her children at the very least.
The hubs insists I’m too open with my kids, a topic I’ve covered before I know so I apologize for the duplication. But I think it’s really important for me to let them know I’m human, I don’t know all of the answers, I’m wrong sometimes and I’m sorry, and in my own right-screwed up. So my oldest daughter and I laugh that I can’t handle her emotional outbursts and teenage instability because I’m just as emotional and mid-life unstable. Well, we laugh when we’re not arguing about said emotional breakdowns.
She doesn’t quite get my obsession with the self-help books or my quest to define my passions and purpose in life at 38…don’t you have that figured out yet ma? And I can only go by my memories of my own adolescent angst so long ago…WHY is this such a drama-fest child?But some of the other stuff… From the womb she couldn’t stay interested in anything long enough to even stay latched to the breast. Perfect latch, four or five good suckles, and then nope, too hard and not interested. To this day I can’t find a thing to keep her interest long enough other than TV or a single genre of book. Sigh…she’s exactly like I was at her age!
You know the letters we want to write to our 16-year old selves? Telling ourselves all of the things we wish we’d known, or to make sure to face those challenges as they come that will help to shape and define us as a person? Learn from your mistakes don’t dwell in them. All of that and more. Well I’ve got a living, breathing ‘self’ walking around my house and all I can do is say that letter out loud to her every day and hope that she remembers these things when it matters most. I also own up to my failures – and successes – out loud to show her she will have both her whole life. I hope, for both myself and for what it shows to all three of my children, is that I overcome most of the time.
I used the old cliche “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree” when shaping the title of this post. My wish is not that she isn’t like me, my wish is that if she’s going to be like me, she’s a better equipped me. Hopefully she launches out of this tree and soars.
I don’t refuse to let her fail. But I do insist that when she does that she get back up – instead of moving in an easier direction.