January 03, 2005

Me or Them?

Driving home from a bit of retail therapy for us girls, this song came on that I had heard a couple of weeks ago. The girls were quiet and contented, so I turned it up and sang along to the chorus. Previous confession of disinterest in pop music will show just how behind I may be, but I googled the lyrics tonight and found out it is "Daughters" by John Mayer.

My childhood prompted me to greater parenting than I received. The ironic thing is that my mother feels herself to have been a better mother than she had. Yesterday after a "discussion" with E, I realized that she knows no other mothering with which to compare mine. It is the nature of humanity to desire to improve upon what was given. At first I was offended at the thought of her possible desire to parent differently than I have her. I mean, I work hard at this mothering thing. It sometimes kicks my ass and it definitely wears me out, but I know they are getting it better than I had it. And, that is the standard, after all.

Isn't it?

Maybe the mother I chose to be is more a mother to me and what the little girl wanted rather than what my girls need. Am I striving to be the mother that E, A, C, and K need rather than the one I comfort myself with being? I think the real truth of my parenting will bleed through the heart of each girl in the mothering of her own children. Sometimes, I stop in the middle of something with them and think, In twenty years, when I am the grandmother, will I be pleased or pained when I witness my daughters responding like this to their children? And will I be big enough to let the successes be their own and claim their failures as an opportunity to say I am sorry for not modeling better parenting?

Posted by Rae at January 3, 2005 12:33 AM

I think most of us try and do the best we can with what we have. How are we really able to judge the job we are doing as we can never get into someone else's head? You probably are trying to be the bewst mother you can, using your past and what you needed but didn't get as a barometer, as well as trying to hear your children.

I do hope my children are better parents than I am, and that their children are better than they are; it isn't a matter of failure, it is a matter of proggression towards the best.

Posted by: Rachel Ann at January 3, 2005 01:29 AM

Rae, Despite what you think of yourself, you are a wonderful mother and role model for all of your children. I have had the pleasure of wittnessing it first hand. You take great pride in watching them seceed in all they do. Where do you think they get some of that talent? From learning from their mom and dad who are wonderful Christian parents who care and love for their children in such a way that I could only hope to be half the mother that you are. I try and I hope that is enough. Being a mother is the most rewarding thing I have ever done in my entire life and hope that my children feel that I am doing a good job. xoxo

Posted by: Sally at January 4, 2005 04:13 PM

They say that we suffer the first half of our lives for our parents and the second half for our children. The beauty is in knowing that it's a circle - and the prayer is in hoping that it go unbroken.

But, then, hell, what do I know? I just raise dogs.

Posted by: Dan at January 4, 2005 05:43 PM

Yes, Rachel, I do hope my children are better than I am. I was confessing that I do hope I can accept that as good instead of insulting.

Sally, thank you :D

Dan, sometimes the circle needs to be broken, and hopefully, I ripped mine apart and started a whole new one ;) Hey, dogs need to be trained properly, too.

Posted by: Rae at January 5, 2005 09:18 AM

I'd disagree, Rae, you can't break the "circle" as I mean it. If I read between the lines here, you broke a "pattern." That's usually a wonderful thing, not because it breaks the circle, but because it strengthens and improves it.

Likely you developed a consciousness about parenting that didn't exist in your family line. Some familes are still generations away, or maybe will never even realize that accomplishment. It's significant. You should be proud. And you can be proud while being angry, confused and or sad, so shush!

Now, me, I "broke" my circle because I didn't want it perpetuated and I'm cool with that. Be cool with your own bad self, girl! See ya around.

Posted by: Dan at January 5, 2005 05:32 PM

I think I better understand your thought now, Dan. Thanks for the clarification.

Posted by: Rae at January 5, 2005 09:38 PM

Rae, My therapist said that ALL parents screw up their kids but just to varying degrees. We can aim to screw our own kids up less than we ourselves were. hmmm, not such an encouraging thought. Well, I think I had a pretty good childhood, but there is still damage, perhaps that is why I made a bad choice in husband, or became so co-dependent of him. I am just saying we can only pray that God gives us the wisdom to do our best and the grace to be forgiven when we don't. (Parenting is THE hardest job ever, and that is why Oprah ISN'T EVERY woman.)

Posted by: Joyella at January 6, 2005 08:27 AM

So here are some of the thoughts I had about the same song, "Daughters" : http://marriedwithoutahusband.blogspot.com/2004/12/fathers-be-good-to-your-daughters.html

Posted by: joyella at January 6, 2005 08:35 AM

Joyella- I posted my thoughts on your thoughts over on your blog.

Posted by: Rae at January 6, 2005 09:24 PM

I know it is late, but I had to comment on this one. Yes, I cry at everything lately (pregnancy does a number on the horomones), but this song makes me weep everytime I hear it. All we can do is give our children our love and guidance, and let God do the rest. As long as you do that, you will not regret your pareting choices. It is evident that you parent with an enormous amount of love. If they choose to parent differently, it just means that they are doing what they feel is best for their kids. Your grandchildren may be extremely different in nature than your kids. They may need a different kind of parenting. I know mine are very different from the child I was. But I still respect my mother's method of parenting, and love her for it.

Posted by: Kadi at January 8, 2005 09:19 AM

I agree, Kadi. This whole parenting this is the most sanctifying thing I think that could ever be required of me.

And it is never too late for you to comment. I always welcome your thoughts :D

Posted by: Rae at January 8, 2005 12:06 PM
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