Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Grateful for Honesty.

I came across an article the other day that said one of the best things we can do as parents is admit our faults.  That if we hold this idea of perfection over their heads, it has a negative impact on our kids. This article touched a few different levels for me. I am not a person who wants to shelter my kids... I want them to get hurt, get cut from a sports team, fail a test, not get a job they really want. Because I want them to know things do not come easy. They come from hard work and dedication. I believe in life to really appreciate the good... we have to experience the bad. Don't get me wrong... I want my kids to have all the happiness in the world... but in order for them to be happy... I do believe they have to experience disappointment. To appreciate the good... we must suffer through the bad.

Sometimes we get so caught up in this image of becoming the "perfect" mom. The "perfect" wife. The "perfect" family. And any other delusions we may have in our head. There is no perfect parent or partner out there. We all have our faults. I believe it is important to make mistakes. Mistakes make us stronger.

I started thinking about my mom when reading this article. This article was saying that if we put up the image of perfection to our kids, we risk losing a connection. Parents are human. And if you are honest with your kids and make a connection, an honest connection... kids will respond.

A little back story on my parents...  My mom was 16 when she got pregnant. Real kicker here was that her and my dad have already been married for almost a year before the surprise of a baby came along. Wait.. what? Yep. Mom married my dad at age 15. Crazy right? My mom grew up quick... without sharing too much of her story... I'll just touch the basics. She grew up with a single mom trying to raise 6 kids. My mom was the oldest... and she grew up too fast... she met my dad.. fell in love.. and well wanted to get out of the house like all teenagers want to do.. and that's about where my story began. Even though my mom got pregnant at such a young age... she worked hard and finished high school and graduated with her class. But raising a kid while you are still in fact... a kid. It is hard.

She has never sugar coated anything about her life and her decisions, which i respect. I think that is hard for parents to admit flaws... or insecurities to our kids. Not that she ever considered me a flaw. Not at all. But she did explain to me that I was her "surprise" not her accident.

I was not planned, and I knew that I was not planned. Some people believe this knowledge is hurtful and can have negative effects on our kids.

 Now before I got any further... my mom would always say my sister and I were the best things to ever happen to her. And she showed us this on a day to day basis. My mom was the mom that sacrificed all of herself for us girls. She was everything I have and will always inspire to be.

My mom would always explain to me just how important school was. Getting good grades in school was the top of their priority list for us kids. My mom would always say she would never ever change that surprise news she had to share with my dad in 1981 for any dream in the world. But she would tell me this was not the life she wanted for us girls. It was hard and stressful. She wanted to make sure we did not grow up as fast as she did with jobs and responsibilities... she wanted us to be young. Go to school. Go to college. Fall in love slowly. And have an easier life.

To be honest... these talks with me were probably hard on her. Admitting our insecurities to ourselves is hard enough. But admitting them to your child (A child that thinks you can do no wrong).... has to be hard. Our kids look up to us and admire us, and to admit that we are not perfect... is challenging. Because in a way we see this as a way of starting over from any mistakes. Having this little human that thinks you are perfect... makes you want to be perfect.

But I think its rather common for parents to want an easier life for their kids. We want to give them the opportunities we didn't have as kids...

My mom would sit down and we would talk... because I was a normal selfish teenage girl. I wanted all the popular clothes... shoes... and everything else my friends got. And my mom worked her butt off to get everything she possibly could for her. But to a teenage girl who had no idea about the value of dollar... and just saw her friends getting the things she wanted... I was a brat. a selfish brat at that time looking back now.

But my mom used this as an opportunity to explain to me.... the difference with her and most of my friends. Most of my friends were being raised by parents who took their time. went to school. got careers... have an easier life. Those moms aren't working 2 shifts in the diner just to buy their kids new school clothes.

She used her story... her struggles to get a message thru to me. She made sure we did not grow up too fast. We had opportunities she didn't have growing up. She pushed us to be better. She forced us to face our fears... and overcome them as kids. She put everything on the line for us and made sure we knew that whatever we chose, she was and will always be supportive.

For me... I think the older we get... the more we want to appear perfect. We have this idea of how things should be in our heads... and we try to fit our lives into that mold. I am grateful that my mom chose honesty. She let me know that she was not perfect. She let me know why she pushed school. Why she pushed sports. And pushed self confidence on us girls. She was trying to give us more.

My parents grew up pretty quick. They didn't experience a lot of mistakes other kids were making that were their age... because they became parents. They became adults over night. And no longer were responsible for themselves but also for me. They made sure I knew that they wouldn't trade it for anything in the world. That their whole lives were centered around me and my sister. They just made sure to talk to us when we got older ... in high school to make sure we slowed down. They wanted to make sure we got to experience being young... and hopefully have an easier transition into adulthood.

As parents we want our kids to have a better life than we did. It's something we all think about. If you are lucky, you hold onto moments with your family. Moments and memories you want to re-create with your own kids. I am lucky... lucky that my parents got a life changing surprise that they embraced head on when they were just children themselves. I am lucky that my parents put their own lives and all of their dreams on hold to let their daughters have a chance at fulfilling theirs. I am lucky for their honesty... and because of their honesty I made better decisions. They shared their flaws... they let me see life wasn't perfect. life is hard and it throws you curve balls... and she showed me that even if it threw me one... with some hard work... determination... and honesty, I would be doing just fine.

Thanks Mom for being brave enough to not paint the perfect picture at all times.
I hope that when the time comes, I choose to be brave enough and choose honesty with my kids.

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