Monday, April 19, 2010

Onward, Upward, Forward, MARCH!

Bad news.  No matter how diligent we are as parents our children will still make mistakes.  Ultimately they are in control of their own decisions and sometimes despite our best efforts, those choices can be wayward.  Being a mom for 16 years, I am learning that I am not alone in this.  Missteps made by kids are universal.  It doesn't matter the age.  Son or daughter, it is one of life's guarantees.  They will blunder, botch and bungle much to our chagrin.  For instance, sweet little toddlers could find it perfectly virtuous to bite or pull hair. They could refuse to share and learn the veritable punch one gets from the word "No!"  And what mother of a preschooler doesn't know how well their little one can test limits?  "She said no cookie, so I'll just have candy instead!"   As our children get older the possibility of screwing up is enormous. Instead of standing up to bullies, they could be the bully.  They may decide against college or drop out of school altogether.  They may be hooked on drugs, sell them-or both. They might lie to teachers or friends or much to our dismay-us.  The disappointments are endless and varied, and if you are like me and other mothers that I know, it is hard not to blame yourself hourly, daily, religiously, thoroughly when your child suffers the consequences of poor judgment.

In the name of dignity, I will spare my two boys and not give you the details of their difficulties.  But I assure you, each boy has some tough mountains to climb on the way to maturity.  It seems as if it is a never-ending job trying to teach those boys the merits of "not."  Sometimes, (who am I kidding,)  most of the time, my advice, ( which they would call lectures,) my consequences ( which they would call ridiculous punishments,)  my tears, ( which they would call over-dramatic,)  fall upon two boys who think they've got all the answers.  They would never dream of listening and learning from their lame mother.  So there are moments when I feel like giving up.  Like I have tried every tip, read every book, spoken to every friend.  These times usually happen at night, when I am lying in bed rehashing every detail of their trials and tribulations. Going over and over what I've tried and wondering for the umpteenth time why nothing seems to be working.  Usually while mulling over the magnitude of these problems, a hopelessness, a feeling of futility, settles into my bones, bores a hole in my stomach, and I fall asleep bearing the weight of the pain only a mother knows when her child (or children) are struggling.

But then there's the morning...and as if by magic, a mother's spirit is renewed.  There are new books to be read, others to talk to, new things to try.  This restored resolution, where ever it comes from, is highly valuable for both mothers and their children.  After all, without it, mothers all over the world would give up on their kids after a few failed attempts.  Without that special spark that lights a fire under us, who'd light a fire under our children?  We tell ourselves that somewhere, someday, all this hard work will pay off (Lordy I hope so!)   And so, we push forward.  Damn the mental fatigue! Three steps forward, two steps back, until progress is made or by some miracle we hear, "Mom, you were right."