When I looked upon my first child for the very first time, I yearned to be the best mother in the world. I read and researched and set to work. And it wasn’t easy. My daughter had a strong will. I had to continually exert my own will in order to make her do what I thought was right:
“Please don’t touch.”
“Come away from that.”
“You have to do that! Why? Because I said so.”
“You’re not getting any dessert until your plate is empty.
“Go and sit in your room until you’re ready to apologise.”
“What am I going to do with you?”
It was hard work. I could have so easily given in, but I didn’t. I wanted to be a good mother. I had to show my child who was in control. I couldn’t let her run all over me. I didn’t want her growing up spoilt and undisciplined.
And then I lost control. Did I just give in? Was I tired? Or did I become wiser with experience?
I began to see things through the eyes of a child. They are not demanding creatures who want to rule our lives. They are little people who have valid needs. They deserve respect and acceptance. They need to know they are loved regardless of their behaviour.
Sometimes when I look back at my earlier mothering days I cringe. Could I really have done that? Could those words really have passed my lips? But they did. And they were done and said because I wanted to be a good mother, because I loved. You have to be tough when you love. Or so I thought.
I no longer think mothering is about subduing and training. It shouldn’t be a battle, me against my children. We are on the same side. It’s about me helping my children to become the people God intends them to be. It’s about them helping me to become a better person too. Sometimes it’s still not easy. But it’s still about love. Not tough love that can appear to disappear, but the unconditional kind.
The other day I was making a photo gallery of all the parenting posts I’ve written for my blogs. Once I’d put the page together, I wanted to test out the links. So I clicked onto each post and found myself re-reading my stories of the past two or three years. And I realised these posts weren’t written by the same mother I used to be. I have changed. I can also see a few holes in some of my stories. I’m far from perfect. I still have plenty to work on. But my children and love and God’s grace are helping.
If you’d like to share any of my parenting posts they can now be found in an easy-to-browse photo gallery under the label Parenting in my blog sidebar.
I’ll also post the links in this post.
Maybe you won’t agree with my opinions. That’s okay. I am writing about my own experience, my own children.
This is MY mothering story.
Image: Me and Gemma-Rose