Raise Them Up

When I was pregnant with my son, I was absolutely convinced I was going to have a girl. I was going to name her Sarah Marie, and I believed that she would have red hair (like my husband before he went gray) and green eyes.  I was so sure of all this that I was actually shocked when the doctor put my son in my arms for the first time and said, “Congratulations, it’s a boy!”  Not disappointed, mind you…I loved my son completely and absolutely from the moment he was born….but definitely surprised.  And as I rocked my newborn son, a little part of me said good-by to Sarah Marie.

Honestly, that incident should have prepared me for what parenting is really all about.

As parents, we try so hard to make the right decisions for our children; to steer them onto the paths we think they should take and to instill our values and our knowledge in them.  And that’s as it should be.  But sometimes when we do that, I think we also make the mistake of thinking that our children will turn out to be exactly who we shaped them to be, and that they will always share our interests and always do things just the way we taught them.   But they rarely, if ever, follow exactly in our footsteps and sometimes set off on paths we never even imagined.  And that’s as it should be, too.

As a writer, I was thrilled when my son began writing stories for fun when he was about ten years old.  He was very good at it.  On some level, I suppose I even hoped he might grow up to have the commercially successful writing career that had eluded me.  But eventually he stopped writing those stories, preferring to spend his time playing sports and video games.  I remember being disappointed at the amount of time he would spend in front a computer when he could, in my opinion, be doing much more productive things.

And you know what?  That same son is now working happily and successfully in the field of technology.  He may not have taken the path I had envisioned for him, but he followed his own heart and found the path that was right for him.

Ann's photo 4

Neither my son or daughter turned out exactly the way I had pictured, and neither share every single one of my values and interests.  Instead, they did exactly what they were supposed to do and used the love, experience and knowledge they were raised with as a foundation upon which to build their own lives.  They are changing and evolving into exactly the persons they were meant to be.

My son surprised me, all those years ago in the delivery room, by turning out to be a bit different from what I had expected.  Honestly, both he and his sister still surprise me now and then.  And as their mother, I wouldn’t have it any other way…..

Motherhood: The Journey Continues

When I first married my husband, we only talked about “maybe” having children, and it was a couple of years before we started talking about “when” we have children, and a couple more years before we decided that it was actually time to start a family. Shortly afterwards, our daughter was born, and exactly two and a half years after that, we had our son.  So for me, motherhood was a gradual process from an abstract idea of maybe having kids, to a definite desire to be a mother, to actually becoming one.

And the process didn’t end there.  From their infancy and toddlerhoods, when my job as a mother meant accepting responsibility for their every need, to their childhood when I had to begin stepping back and letting them learn things for themselves, to their teenage years when I could no longer ignore the fact that they were well on their way to adulthood, my role as a mother has constantly evolved.  Those early years when my kids were so dependent on me were exhausting, but simple.  The delicate balancing act of trying to decide how much support to give and how often to give it began later, and it just got more complicated as they grew up.  These days, everyone makes fun of “helicopter parents,” but anyone who has been a parent knows how hard it is to decide when our kids need our help, and when they need us to step back and learn how to fail.

Now that my son and daughter are actual adults, our relationship is still changing, and my role as their mother continues to evolve. I’m still helping them, but they are also helping me.  The little boy I once pushed in the stroller (for the ten minutes or so he’d consent to ride in there) is now the young man I call when I need a heavy box carried out of the basement or someone to explain to me why my computer suddenly went on strike.  And these days I am almost as likely to ask my daughter for advice (particularly in fashion, an area where she is light years ahead of me) as I am to give advice to her.   Watching my son and daughter grow into well-rounded, competent and caring persons has been, without a doubt, the most rewarding part of motherhood.

Use thisI understand now that my role as a mother will always be changing, just like my relationship with my own mother continues to change and grow.  I loved watching my mom interact with my kids when they were little, and learned a few things about dealing with small children in the process.  If I’m lucky, I’ll have grandkids of my own some day, and that will add a whole new dimension to motherhood.  But whatever happens, wherever the process leads us, I’ll always be their mother.  Always.