Let me ask you a question....which do you consider yourself, someone who sees things in black and white or a person who sees in shades of gray?
Until a few years ago I was very much a black and white person, (almost a little too much so), and then something happened to me. Not sure if it was the wisdom I acquired throughout the years, or just that perspective finally made an appearance in me. Either way, I am glad for the extra compassion, sympathy and understanding this shift has brought to my life.
There is, however, one thing that I remain very much black and white on: my responsibility as a mother.
And for that matter, what I believe is the responsibility of every woman who becomes a mother, you have got to show up. It is not an option to simply phone it in or "check out" of mothering when the going gets tough. I've seen the effect on children when this happens, and it isn't pretty. It is a future killer. For the kids who's parents don't show up for them, and for their kids, and for future generations of kids.
I would venture a guess that what is wrong with many of today's troubled youth, is a lack of any real parenting. And I fear the root of the problem goes back farther into the family tree than their own parents. We need to do something to stop this trend. Where have all the real mother's gone? I wish I knew the answer/solution to that question.
I have to admit, parenting is often times a thankless job while you are in the midst of it. Because I am a mother, I can speak only about how difficult it is to do this half of the parenting equation. Ever heard the term fun sucker? That's me. I've been called that by my children, and it's probably thought about me even more often.
It's okay. It's in the job description and I agreed to it when I took on the job.
While I believe it is a great thing to have your kids like you, it is not your job to be their friend! Your job is to be their parent. The voice of reason, the conscience, the meanie, for Pete's sake. Mom's need to be consistent, to say "no" and to mean "no" while somehow making sure to silently communicate to your child that you are in it for the long haul, and no amount of attitude is going to make you leave this job.
Think about it... friendships are fickle and can change over time, over events, over arguments. Being a mother, on the other hand, means having your child's back always, no matter the event, the argument, or the time elapsed. Your relationship may change, but your job description does not. It is to give unconditional love, guidance and support. You are supposed to say what needs to be said, whether it makes your child happy with you, or not.
I am far from being a perfect mother. Maybe there is no such thing. But I am tired of seeing so many mother's falling down on the job. Allowing your children's basic needs to take a backseat to your own selfishness, is a tragedy. How many times have you heard someone say, "I'm doing the best I can", but you see them continue on with their selfish addictive behavior? Allowing this behavior to happen over and over again is a travesty.
I have come to believe that a person has a hard time accepting and acknowledging real love later in their life, if they were not given the basic love they deserved as a child. It remains an elusive thing to them, something they are always on the lookout for, always reaching for, almost to the point of missing the real love that is right under their nose.
Unconditional love gives a child an unseen (sometimes unknown) strength. The knowledge and feeling that they are loved, no matter what, in spite of making mistakes, is key to their sense of self. I have learned that you can love someone who is not your own, as much as you love your own, but because that unconditional love was missing in their growing up years, that love is not understood. Instead of accepting the love for what it is, love, there is always a tendency to question it. To doubt it. To back away from it. What they truly want is to experience that love from their own mother, even if, time after time, there is huge disappointment when it does not happen.
I get the "why" a child wants this. But that doesn't make me any less sad/mad about having to watch it continue to happen to people I care about. To watch a child's eyes fill with the dawning realization that it is happening to them again, that something else is once again more important to their mother's than they are. I can almost hear the silent cry....Maybe this time if my mom loves me, then everything else will be all right.
Can a mother who's addictive needs have come before the needs of her children for over twenty years, ever change? I am a realist. So, I think not. So then be a real mother and do the right thing....let them go. Before it is too late, let them go to someone else who will love them like they should be loved. Give them to a family who will put their needs first. Stop pulling them back into your world with the promise of your love, then asking to borrow money for food, or rent or bus money. Your children don't want "candy and chips" or "an X-box gaming system" --because they need a bed and some real food in the refrigerator more. No doubt the gaming system, like the i-pod and game boy which came before it, will be pawned for cash in a week anyway. Those material goods are just "things". The real "things" your children need are love, attention, discipline, and to be led by example. Not to be shown an awful lesson in "what not to do", or a "what I don't want to become."
When bad mothers continue their selfish reign over the children who love them, I know what does not change, the effect it has on those children. The underlying message that comes through to them is that they are not important enough, or special enough to be loved more than the alcohol or drugs or whatever addiction it is that has a hold on their mother. And so throughout everything... every decision, every choice, every opportunity the child will eventually face, the question of whether or not they are good enough, comes into play. They will question real love continuously and doubt their ability to reciprocate love. They will question their ability to be a good mother themselves, and will wonder, "Will I too, check out, when times get tough?"
I know this because I am experiencing it first hand right now. I have fallen in love with a child who lived her life without the mother she needed most. And I now know what it is like to love someone as your own, who has not yet learned to love themselves. They constantly crave love and affirmation from the one person they should have gotten it from automatically and unconditionally in the first place, their mother, the one person who is incapable of giving it.
I am one of the lucky ones. My mom did exactly what she was supposed to do. She was my mom. She didn't try to be my friend. She led by example, she had expectations for me, she showed up. That's not to say we didn't fight along the way, and there were times that I, being the oldest, took the brunt of a few hard parenting lessons learned....but, throughout it all, I knew she put me first. She loved me. She cared enough to put me in my place when I was wrong, to ground me if I needed it, to pinch that incredibly sensitive part of my underarm when I mouthed off, and to say "no" when it was required, all of which made me the person I am today.
Is it bad that I want to shout out to the bad mothers of the world? Wake up. Stop the madness. Stop the cycle. Break the chain. Do something for your children this time. Do the right thing. Let them go.
Take it from someone who once lived completely in the black and white and then took a leap of faith into the gray....If you come across a child in need, reach out to them. Who knows what one kind word, or action, could set in motion. It could be life changing for the both of you.
I know it is for me.