The Mother I’ve Been, The Mother I Am
by J. J. Cannon
There is a running tally, on a loop it seems, playing inside my head “…next up on Mommy Mistakes, we’ll be taking a trip down memory lane to remember all of the times we made selfish choices…” I take full ownership of all of them.
I have three beautiful children – and let me clarify that when I refer to them as beautiful, I am referring first and foremost to the unique and beautiful spirits that all children possess. Of course I would be lying if I said wasn’t biased in thinking so! The age difference between my oldest and youngest is a couple of years more than the age difference between my son and me.
It won’t come as a surprise then to hear that my parenting skills at age 18 vs. age 36 (when the second was born) are slightly different in comparison. Maturity and stability were just two of the very important elements missing during that first chapter of motherhood. Of course, at the time I thought I knew everything like most 18 yr. olds do.
I have been lucky enough to have open and honest communication with my son and truly believe him when he assures me he understands and forgives me for the circumstances surrounding those days. While I take some comfort in that, I cannot just wash my hands and say “well, there now”…it is often much harder to forgive ourselves.
Now, as I watch his two little sisters grow, each milestone is a reminder of something I missed, something I should had been there to witness first hand twenty years ago – to log into my mommy memory bank for safe keeping. Like I said in “Breaking the Cycle”, it hasn’t been a perfect journey.
What I know now is that I was lacking three essential qualities at that point in my life: Love for myself, Respect for myself and Self-esteem.
Fast forward 18 years to the birth of my daughter. Better, healthy choices made – in life and in men. My life is stable and calm. I am pleasantly surprised when she arrives at how instantly we bond and think I couldn’t be more in love – I had been so scared thinking what if I’m still not good enough? I quickly realized that I could relax and enjoy her.
My own mother had a nervous breakdown after I was born and was, for many reasons, just not able to cope. I used to be afraid, afraid of the genetics which can contribute to cycles of dysfunction and how that might affect me as a mother – and there were a couple of folks along the way who tried to plant that tiny “you might be just like your mother” seed – but it turns out I had less to fear than I thought!
I am feeling now more than ever that Mother’s Day is an opportunity for me to take stock of where I’ve been and where I’m going as a mom and to be thankful for lessons learned along the way.
In the great words of my sweet sister-in-law “The days are long. The years are short.” This has become my Mommy Mantra.
Wishing everyone, and especially all of the women (there are many) who have played Mother roles in my life, a very heartfelt Happy Mother’s Day.
Always with love…