Rob and I had a meeting with lawyers today. For the first time in years I was reminded of how close I came to going to law school (I was accepted to a number of law schools before deciding not to go), and how much a part of me would love being a lawyer. I love information, facts and arguing a case, as well as the trappings that come with the job. Although I chose a different route for my life, this fact about myself definitely informs who I am as a mother, and influences and affects my kids’ lives.
My approach to parenting includes a heavy emphasis on books and learning, the arts, and other educational experiences. I’ve been called a professional mom because of my approach to parenting. What I see so clearly now is how these traits of mine are part of the gift that my kids will get from being my kids and not someone else’s. Yet when I first started parenting I struggled with trying to give my kids all the possible gifts and feeling crummy about myself because that was an impossible task. It took awhile for me to realize that in order to be the best mom I can be, I needed to allow myself to be who I am and not try to be someone else.
Can you imagine if Mozart’s father had worried about whether or not his son was well-rounded and a great soccer player? Or if Margaret Atwood’s mother had twisted herself in knots trying to be more crafty with her daughter? I’m sure you’ve had times where you compared yourself to other moms and come up short. For me those times include when I am faced with putting together costumes for Halloween or baking a pie. Yet when I focus on what I do well, which includes nurturing the kids’ interests in clubs and after-school activites, I see that I offer my kids gifts that some other moms don’t. We are meant to be unique individuals creating unique individuals so of course our gifts are different! Yet so many moms expect themselves and each other to mother the same. It really is craziness!
I also was thinking today about how much I have grown as a parent and a person, since having kids. If I hadn’t embarked on this amazing journey, I would probably be a lawyer. A few years after deciding not to go to law school, I was seriously debating whether to go after all. Although I would have the brain candy of litigating cases and discussing the ins and outs of law with clients and other lawyers, I know I would still be stymied in my personal life and confused about why I couldn’t make personal relationship work. Becoming a parent, along with all the challenges and stress, was the biggest gift I could have received towards becoming a happier, more fulfilled person.
Ironically, I know that in the long-run I am a more effective and effectual person too. As a lawyer I could have helped some peopel in legal situations. At the same time, my hands would have been tied when it came to the laws’ inability to help people with the issues that lead to the law suits in the first place. Real, meaningful change is what I want to help people with, instead of helping them to win a divorce case or other legal battles, which are often only hollow victories. I have much more to offer by helping parents through the lessons that I have learned from parenting.
Of course, I could write another article about how pushing myself to grow in other areas that weren’t strengths has also made me grow and become a better parent and happier person. Parenting, like most things involves many nuances and shades of grey. As Dr. Gordon Neufeld states, the more mature we are the more we can see both sides of situations. Still the point remains true that for the most part, we can relax about trying to be all types of mothers to our kids and instead focus on being the best mom that we can be, with our unique gifts and talents. If we stay focused on recognizing and cultivating our best, our children will benefit way more than if we try to do it all and end up miserable and unsuccessful.
Two paths diverged in our woods, one the path of wishing we could magically be every mom, and not feeling good enough. The other is the path of being the best mom that we can be within our limitations and gifts. I urge you to take the path that honors who you really are, and allows your kids to see you shine in all your unique glory! Two paths diverged in the woods, and when we take the less travelled one and celebrate our uniqueness as moms, that will make all the difference.