Today is my son’s 22nd birthday. When he and my daughter were home for Christmas, we all reminisced about past birthdays for him. Some he remembered fondly and some not so much. I found the old burden of guilt floating around my head, ready to descend upon my shoulders…did I not do it right? Did I damage his self-esteem, his ability to cope in the world because of my own lacks? How quickly we moms (or is it just me?) can assume full responsibility for our children…as though we had no husband, as though our children have no will of their own, and as though there is no God in Heaven who is sovereign over all.
I had to “let it go” and not carry that burden. In the past, I was doing the best I could with the situation at the time, even if it wasn’t great. I cannot fix the past; I cannot fix the things not right in either of my kids’ lives. I can, however, continue to grow as a mom and as a person and grow in my relationship to my kids now. I can work at being the best mom in this phase of their lives and mine.
The thing about being a mom is that you never really become an expert. We expect a lot of ourselves right off the bat….thinking that we have to get it right when our kids are infants and preschoolers. Is there any field or discipline where you become an expert after three or four years? Most professions take years of study and practice to become an “expert”.
But even if we have, say, ten or twenty years under our belts; we can’t really claim expertise because the job keeps changing! When you have figured out your three year old, he turns four and enters a new developmental stage. Or when you have two kids and your third comes, she is a whole new personality and a whole new style is needed to cope with her.
Being a mom is something you and I will always be; it is a role that is also our identity. Our title and relationship with our children will always be “mom,” but how that looks is ever changing. Will we ever be experts, will we ever get it right? Sometimes we will and sometimes not. The constant will be that love relationship that you have with your child. The variables will be the age and stage of each child and how you learn to be mom in that season.
Is this discouraging news? I hope not. I hope that it encourages you to give yourself grace to learn and grow and sometimes fail. I hope that you can tell yourself that you are still learning, still growing and changing as a mom and as a person. I hope that you can give yourself grace when you fail or make mistakes and be a model of a person who lives by grace. Sometimes “giving yourself grace” is really accepting that God has given us grace and learning how to walk a life of grace in Him.
We are all moms who are learning as we go and constantly in the “on-the-job training” mode. I remember telling my son a few years back, “Have a little patience with me; I have never been the parent of a teen-age boy before!” Be patient with yourself and enjoy the adventure of being a mom!
I am happy to be growing together with all of you!
Jan Roberson has been a mentor in the Bigfork MOPS for 7 years. She has taught in public and private schools, homeschooled and has been a private tutor. Dan and Jan have two adult children, Caitlin and Nathaniel, and have lived in the Flathead Valley for more than 20 years.