Forgiving Myself

My son’s kindergarten teacher was named Mrs. Beasley.

And she, despite her efforts to be a sweet-faced doll, was tough and more than up to the task of herding a bunch of out-of-control five-year olds. My favorite Mrs. Beasley moment came during story-telling time:

OK, children, we’re all going to sit down and listen to Mrs. McKenzie read us a story.”

Children sit down, with varying degrees of speed and interest.

“Let’s settle down, children, so Mrs. McKenzie can read us a story. Oh, Michael, darling, that means you, too. Please sit down.”

(Michael ignores Mrs. Beasley.)

“Michael, sweetheart, please have a seat so Mrs. McKenzie can read us a story.” (voice getting a little higher and more stressed)

(Michael continues to ignore Mrs. Beasely.)

“Oh, Michael, honey, it’s time to sit down.” (steel definitely entering voice now)

(Michael continues to play, totally oblivious.)

“MICHAEL!!! SIT DOWN THIS INSTANT!!” (all restraint gone)

Michael immediately sits down, a little paler for the experience.

Ah, Mrs. Beasley. I totally loved you. You lasted one more sweet “Michael, darling” than I would have. OK, maybe two.

This past week, Scott and I babysat our two grandchildren, ages 15 and 35 months. It was a very good reminder that motherhood is lovely, rewarding – and an unbelievable amount of work and stress. I felt like Mrs. Beasley many times in the last seven days, but happily for all, never got to the screeching end of that rant.

I was nervous about this week, because I carry a lot of guilt with me from my own days as a mother. I struggled with balancing the needs of our family with an incredibly demanding – and fulfilling – job. If you’ve been a regular reader of this blog (Bless you!), you may recall the post, Confessions of a Working Mother, about a confrontation with my son some five years ago about my mothering style. With this guilt inside me, the questions were if I would be up to mothering small children again, and would I do a better job that I did before.

It ended up being wonderful. Aside from creating a deep bond with Matilda and Lucas, I had the opportunity to relive the emotions I experienced as a young mother. But this time with objectivity, experience and insight. In fact, I took the liberty of giving myself a report card at the end of the week. Here’s what it looks like:

Here’s what I learned about myself. While I certainly made my share of mistakes and didn’t always exercise terrific judgement, I did a lot of things right, too, as a mom. For some reason, I only remember my weaknesses, not my strengths. This week reminded me that there was more to the story than what I did wrong. I wasn’t always freaking out – that was in my mind, not in reality. We did have good times together – tons of them. Reading books together, making up silly stories for bath time, traveling together, cooking together. It’s no accident that together, Scott and I raised strong, grounded children who are kind and caring. We get some credit.

I hereby forgive myself for my flaws as a mother. I will go forward with my head held high, remembering not only the things I did right as a mother of small children but as the supportive mother of our adult children. So sayeth I.

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