I knew my kids were better off without my help, which is what helped me to become a better mom.
I love my kids. I really do. And I’m the first to admit that my whole life is wrapped around them, even today when they have left the nest. I plan things I do around their schedules, so that we can see them as much as possible. But, honestly, I was not a part of many major decisions in their lives.
I truly believe this not only made me a better mom, but also prevented my kids from dreading me. I’m talking major milestones and decisions here that I was not included in. But, I survived and so did my kids. Parenting is a delicate balance of doing what you think is right; sometimes being right, often screwing it up, but always growing as a family from the rights and wrongs.
What were these major parts of my children’s lives I bowed out of? They were a mixture of life milestones and major decisions. Here are three examples of how I bowed out and became a better mom.
The dance mom; not me.
Yes, I traveled with my daughter to all of her dance events, but I made a decision to not be a dance mom. I could not join in, sitting in the rooms watching her dance. It wasn’t healthy for either of us to have me too close. I was the one who got my own room and often a suite with an extra room, so the girls and their directors had a place to chill. But, I stayed in my room, allowing them to have their space.
Driving; no way!
It would not have been healthy for any of us. They both made the first decision to hold off getting their permits for about a year. Did I have anything to do with this? Well, maybe, when they asked if I would teach them to drive. The answer was clear and simple. NO. I was also very clear why. It scared me to death and I was afraid, because driving scares me.
But, when they got their permits and did not want to take drivers’ education, I took on the responsibility with my husband to complete the courses on-line. I didn’t push them and on the weekends when the twins had time and were ready, David would take them out driving. It took a year, but we completed the requirements and when they asked, I took them for their drivers’ license tests. I just couldn’t be an active part of the process.
The college decision.
Most people call us crazy for this one, but I don’t care; the college decision. I totally removed myself from this, so far as to hire a college advisor. First, I knew the process would be complete, because I had uber responsible and driven kids. And second, because the twins knew that we trusted the process and wanted them to see and do it all. We also left the option open to take a gap year and travel the world.
Finally, they knew we were committed to their education, both with our hearts and wallet. We just could not impose our direct views of colleges or universities on them. They were/are young adults and they needed to make this first major life decision on their own. We knew in our hearts where we thought they should be, but kept our mouths shut. When they asked our opinions, we were clear to give our views without giving our opinions. We knew any decision would not be a wrong decision and if it was not the perfect decision, then that could be managed, too.
Why did I stay out of it?
Because I had too. You see, I have a control issue and am very opinionated, but I am honest about it. From the very beginning, we, as a parenting team, made the choice to be brutally honest with our twins. They understood how we felt and why. I felt as though I was such an overbearing mom, that I had to remove myself at times for the good of all of us. For me, it would not have been healthy. My overbearing personality of making sure everyone is okay and had their needs are met would have set in.
This would have caused stress and/or more mom drinking…mom drinking often leads to mom stress eating and then weight gain… I also knew I was not one of those moms who could just sit on the side. For the twins, it was about letting them know we trusted and believed in them. They, too, then understood they could totally open up and be honest with us. We felt that overpowering the twins with our directive would have led to young adults who couldn’t make life decisions without us. Believe me, it was hard, but has been so worth it.
Do I regret it or would I do it differently?
This is a super loaded question, but the short answer is, I don’t regret it. Would I do things differently? Yes. If I knew then what I know now and if I was stronger as a young mom, I would have started years ago stepping back.
We worked hard as a parenting couple to do what we felt was best to raise our children well and I know we did. We cannot change what we did right nor what we did wrong, but we can share our successes and failures with others and our kids, to help make the best decisions they can.
Today, I am still controlling and worry a lot. But, the twins make it easy to step back and allow them to grow. As I remind them, it is my job as mom, to continue to worry, ask questions, and make suggestions. I also remind them that I will never stop, because my mother hasn’t either…
Have you stepped back to let your children grow?