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The Mom I Wasn't

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Mother’s day always makes me contemplate the effect I had on my children when they were young. Always something that’s easier to do when they are grown, I guess. I always have the same questions year after year. I don’t ask them, of course, because they are going to tell me that I was the best ever. But I always wonder. So this year, since I’m a blogger now (yay hoo!), I decided to write it down. Purge my system of the questions that have been lingering for 20+ years. This is the mom I was. What about the mom I wasn’t?

I remember the first time I held my kids. I thought to myself “this little person grew inside of me.” I was awesome! Then the fear set in. I was just a kid myself. Was I good enough to raise them? How do you raise a child anyway? Mom, help! Asking her just got me the typical response. “There is no manual for raising children. You’ll just have to muddle along like the rest of us did.” Thanks, Mom, I feel ever so much better. But she was there when I inundated her with frantic calls. Deanna has a fever. “Put her in a bathtub with lukewarm water and let her play.” Debbie just fell and cracked her head (which time?). ”Are her eyes crossed? She’ll be ok.” It didn’t help that we were living in Dallas, some 1,200 miles away. Anyway, between Mom’s sage advice and my own inept trials and errors, they grew up fine. But…

Like most moms these days, I had to work. I had the same feelings most moms get when I dropped them off at daycare. I was the most horrible mother in the world. Were the daycares good enough? Who would kiss their boo boos? What if they choked on their lunch? Would they think I’d deserted them? Or, the worst of it all, would they end up loving their caretakers more than me? Yeah, that’s a silly one, I know. Brought to life when they didn’t want to go home their first day.

Being a working mom and raising kids is tough enough but try the insecurities of attempting to climb the corporate ladder (not that I did too well) and assuage the guilt. Did I work too much? If I hadn’t put in the extra five to ten hours per week at work, would they be more well adjusted adults? Yes, I loved my job but did I love it more than my kids? I don’t think so but why was it so easy to drop them off at the daycare after a particularly hectic morning at home because work was preferable than dealing with a whiny, snotty child? Deanna, for the first five years of her life, had to be completely dressed before I woke her unless I wanted to wrestle what seemed to be an oversized octopus every day. Not a morning person. Still isn’t, for that matter. Debbie, even at the tender age of two, had to pick out her own clothes because NOTHING I picked out for her would work. Yep, she’s still that way as well.

Speaking of clothes, did they have enough? Did they have what the other kids their age had? Money was always tight but I didn’t want them to be left out. I have strong memories of Deanna being disappointed because the first parent’s night at school was upon us and there was either enough gas in my car to either go to work the next morning or go to the school. I still remember her telling me “But I put all my projects on my desk and everything.” And it still breaks my heart. There wasn’t enough money for Debbie to be a cheerleader in fourth grade. Why kids needed to be cheerleaders at that age is beyond me but I still remember her hiding behind a tree at the park watching the more affluent girls practicing their cheers on the ball field. And I felt like a piece of dirt because she couldn’t join.

Vacations were there but I didn’t get to take them to Europe. Yeah, that’s a stupid one but I wanted it for them anyway. Did I do enough fun stuff with them? We did the zoo and spent lots of time at the park. And shopping. They were champion shoppers before they were ten. Once we moved back to Pennsylvania, they spent lots of time on Pap and Gramma’s farm. They had family. I gave them family. The county fair every year. Rib cookoffs, once again courtesy of Pap and Gramma. Instruments so that they could join the band in school. From sixth grade to graduation, they were in the band. There was never enough money for Disney when they were kids but damn it, they went with the band in high school. We scrimped, saved, washed cars and fund-raised until we were exhausted but they went to Disney.

Ok, so money was tight. Who doesn’t have that problem these days. More importantly, was there enough love? Did I show them enough love? They never went to bed without a kiss, a hug and an I love you. Even when they were sent to bed in disgrace, they had that. I cooked meals that they liked. Ok, so a lot of those meals were out of a box but they liked them. I played with them when they were small, talked about sex with them as teens and was as helpful as I could be when they came to me with problems. They have always known that they could talk to me about anything. Even…gulp…relationships. Not that I’m an expert on those but I tried. I kissed boo boos, dried tears and drove car pools. They had birthday parties and sleep overs. Warm beds and fully tummies.

Most of all, I guess, they had and still have a mom who loves them, is proud of them and will always be ready to lend a helping hand. Isn’t that what all moms strive to be? I don’t know but it’s who I am. Whether I do it well is a question I guess I will always ask myself.

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