The mom I wanted to be looked like this: she snuggles her babies in the morning because she can and they love it. She reads books to, does puzzles with, and lets them run through the laundry as she hangs it on the line. I wanted to be the mom who created awesome fun birthday parties (ok, I will give myself that one!), who home schooled her kids, who took them on adventures to learn about the world. I wanted to be the mom who taught her three-year-old piano (come on, I’m a musician after all…at least, I used to be!), who nursed until her baby was 2-years-old, and who baked bread once a week and had homemade meals in the freezer.
Today, I still want all of those things, and I’m prophesying them over our future, but…right now, I’m seeing the other side. I am up all night not with my babies, but taking care of mainly college-aged students who have made bad choices and people who live in tents or on the street. And the thing is, it makes me realize that it’s not the homemade bread, cloth diapering, or home schooling that makes the difference in if our parenting works or not.
While I am putting IV’s in arms, holding bags for someone to vomit into, and trying to get the truth out of what drugs someone really did or didn’t take, I’m in effect, holding someone else’s baby at two in the morning. Sometimes, these kids ask me if they should call their parents. And I always say “yes”. And most of the time, I’m saddened by the parental responses. Instead of being shocked, outraged, scared, and immediately getting out of their own warm bed to get themselves quickly to the hospital, the parents usually want to talk to me and then they ask me if they should bother coming or not, or if they can just wait to see what the hospital says…while I’m running lights and sirens, and their child has an altered mental status…
It’s not the toddler piano lessons that determined if these kids were going to be risking their lives in college or living on the streets as adults. It’s the caring of the parents. Granted, I know that you can be the best parent in the world and your child can still grow up to use drugs. But that’s the exception, not the norm. Loving your children is the best thing you can do, and that is what’s going to make the difference. You may have to be a working mother. You may not be the one there to see your baby’s first steps or hear her first words. You may be too sick or tired to have homemade meals in the freezer. But you know what? It’s ok.
None of us may ever be the stay-at-home-super-moms that we want to be. But that’s not what is going to make the difference in the success of our children, and we need to remember that. Are you interested and involved in your childrens’ lives? Do you know what’s going on, and do you find a way to connect with your child every day that you’re home? Do you give them the best that you can give them? If so, then you’re doing ok. Remember that next time that you’re feeling down. It’s probably not going to be your children that I’ll be up all night with.
Love. Care. Pay attention.
That is what is going to make you a good mama.