I've heard it said that our parents know how to push all our buttons...after all, they installed them! No doubt that is meant as a humorous observation, but it is fairly true, nonetheless. Nearly daily since I became a mother almost 15 1/2 years ago I have wondered what mistakes I am making that will affect my children for the rest of their lives. What "buttons" am I installing? What will stories will they tell their spouses and children about me? What will they tell their therapists???
Parenting is the most important job in the world and, arguably, the most difficult. Not only is each child different, but each parent and each family is different. There are very few hard and fast rules of parenting. It starts at birth...will you breast feed, or bottle feed? Lay your baby down on side, back, or tummy? Pick her up or let her cry? Walk or rock? The daily decisions seem endless and sometimes insurmountable. With our first child I worried even in her infancy what I was doing to "mess her up?" When the second baby came along I faced decisions squared, but at least I had less time to ponder all of my shortcomings as a mother. Now I have five children and the decisions I am called to make run the gamut from car seats to driver's ed. Not only has the laundry increased exponentially, but so have the daily decisions I make regarding the parenting of these precious ones that have been entrusted to me.
I wish I could say that I do my best, but the truth is that often times I'm not doing my best. Sometimes I'm lazy or selfish or tired or grumpy. I worry that they will grow up and only remember those times. I hope not. I hope they remember how I made them whatever kind of birthday cake they asked for every year (I still remember my mother baking me a strawberry cake for my 3rd birthday at my request). I hope they remember how we took walks and talked about important things almost every spring and summer evening. I hope they remember the times we laughed so hard we cried. I hope they remember "Dirks Idol" and "Fear Factor, Dirks Addition." I hope they remember putting ornaments on the tree and lights on the house. Instead of remembering the times I was frustrated with them over homework or snapped at their insistent questioning, I hope what they remember most about their childhood is how much their mother loved them.