Sunday, May 5, 2013

Parenting Ideas: Don't Leave

Okay. This is pretty simple. Have kids? Stick around. Don't move away, don't abandon them, don't decide your life would be better without them. Kids can't choose to leave. Kids can't choose whether you're their parents or not.

So love them. 

Stick around, and love them. Don't stick around and beat them or dominate them or manipulate them or use them to get attention. 

It's not all about you.

No, seriously. It's not even very much about you. Parenting is about your responsibilities, your joy in making your children laugh, your honoring the obligation to teach them about good behavior, manners, doing their part, owning their mistakes, and hard work. Parenting is about being there. 

This post comes from a very personal place, if you can't tell. My mother did not live up to her obligations. She chose selfishness; leaving her seven children with their dad (thank you, for that, though, as he is SUPERMAN). That's the very short version of the story, of course. But it should suffice.

My kids are now ages 10, 13, 16 and 18, and sometimes I'm struck by just how much my mother missed out on. When she left, we were ages 2,4, 6, 7, 9, 12 and 14 (-ish. I'm not sure exactly) and I'm still struck by just how crazy that is. My kids are such a joyous, fulfilling part of my life; I can't fathom giving that up to PLAY. Weird. 

Today my third son put on the movie "The Pirates of Penzance" and mentioned that the last time we watched this I was lamenting that I've outgrown the opportunity to ever play Mabel on stage, but I guess I could take some consolation and hope to have the chance to play Ruth. Though Mabel was one of my life-dream roles, so I'm a little sad about that. He said, "Mom, when you said that, I thought, Well, you'll be the prettiest Ruth ever, then!" Isn't that sweet? Special little moments like that are spontaneous and you MISS them if you aren't engaged and part of their world.

And my second son comes into the kitchen regularly to tell me about his progress in writing code to create computer games. I don't understand much of what he says, but I love that he's sharing with me. He is also the first to introduce new popular music to me-- "Mom! You have to hear this song!" And my oldest makes me laugh every day. He's so generous with hugs and incredibly helpful. 

And my sweet daughter loves to make cookies, play video games and read. She comes to me for everything-- now there are days this feels clingy and like I need to get away for a minute and escape to the store or into a book, but I never, ever imagine leaving her to her own resources. I would never leave my pre-adolescent daughter to muddle through the mire of emotions, puberty, friendship drama, school and dating without me there to be her shoulder to cry on, her biggest cheerleader and her steady support.

But my mother did. 

She missed out on thousands of hugs, kisses, smiles, laughter, cookie-baking and movie-watching and walking and working together. She missed out on moments that made us who we are. We missed out on having a mother to do all those mothery things, but I think she's the one who really missed out on the most. She gave up the best things in her life.

So don't you ever do that.

No matter how hard it gets. No matter how buried in diapers and toys and messes and chaos and screaming and crying and illness and drama and no matter how lost you may feel, DON'T LEAVE. 

Take a break. Take a breather. Let someone help you. If you have mental illness, don't let it take away these years-- GET HELP. NOW. Kids are only kids for a few minutes and then BOOM! they're all grown up. So take a break when you need to.

But come back. And make sure your babies know every moment of every day that you love them. That you are there for them. That you will always be there for them.

That's all. 

Thanks for reading...


Carolyn said...

I love you Steph. It was very brave of you to be so vulnerable. You and your sisters are such great moms! I love you all. I never could understand how she left you all either. You were then and are now such great people to know.

Anonymous said...

I love you, and I love this post! You are an amazing woman who gives me hope that my own daughters will have amazing lives. They'll have their challenges of course, but you are proof that they can make the world a better place just by being in it. (Hope that makes sense!) Thanks for being my friend and a wonderful example!

Steph said...

Thank you, ladies. For making me cry and making me feel special. :)