Being both daughter and mom of a daughter creates a constant cycle of emotions and challenges. As a daughter, I did not truly appreciate the actions of my mom until becoming a mom myself. As a mom, I continually struggle with whether or not my parenting decisions were best for my children. It’s an unending, mixed up, beautiful circle.
There were times I certainly drove my mom crazy and surely caused her many sleepless nights. Thankfully she did not give up on me during my young adult years despite some poor choices on my part. Somehow we both survived. Although my children may not have supplied the same grief, I have experienced the worry and sleepless nights. Part of the job, I suppose.
In a recent conversation, my mom expressed some regret over some of her parenting choices-wishing she had talked more openly about certain subjects. You know the ones-uncomfortable ones we tend to avoid. Almost as if she thought my mistakes were her fault. Naturally, I reassured her that she was a great mom and that I made my own choices.
Truthfully, there comes a time when each of us is responsible for our own actions. My young adult choices were mine-good or bad, and I had to deal with their consequences. The older I become the more I understand how even those mistakes helped form this person I see in the mirror. Yes, they brought guilt and sorrow, but also allowed me to encounter life-changing forgiveness and grace. And that affects how I relate to the people in my life.
At first, I didn’t understand why my mom felt the way she did. How could she possibly think my mistakes were her fault? Then I began to reflect on my own parenting. From that perspective, I began to understand. Our children are part of us. One of our greatest responsibilities. And in some ways, part of our reflection. We want to see the best parts of ourselves in those reflections.
As parents, we love, worry, pray, and provide-but still feel like we’re falling short. Did we encourage enough? Or too much? Was our opinion expressed too strongly? Or not strongly enough? Did we efficiently equip our children to make good decisions? On the one hand feeling responsible for our children’s mistakes, on the other acknowledging our parents are not responsible for ours. Certainly a contradiction of ideas.
Logical or not, this crazy cycle goes on and on. Is this cause for concern? Something we need to change? I would argue no. This is the parent/child circle. You can’t be a parent without first being a child. You can’t be a child without first having a parent. Sounds simple, but it is beautifully complicated. As a parent I would say it is worth the worry and sleepless nights. And maybe if I stop to remember what it was like to be a child, I won’t be quite so hard on myself as a parent.