Have you ever wished your child were different? That they did better in school, dominated in sports, or excelled in music? I know many moms wouldn’t want to admit it out loud even if they did.
Luckily, I have my sister. She is the one person in the world I know I can confess all of motherly “sins” to without the fear of judgment or criticism. That connection could be a sister thing or it could be because, as a fellow mother, she’s had the same experiences too.
Recently, I confided in her a thought I had about two of my kids, which made me feel a little uneasy. I won’t name names but it went something like this. “Why can’t one of my kids be more like the other one?”
Now before you hang me out to dry, please hear me out. First of all, I love all three of my kids equally. Really, I do. I don’t have a favorite- each one makes up one-third of my entire heart and soul.
Secondly, to be more specific, the thought was more like, “Why can’t one of my kids be as good as the other one at school?” It’s not like I wanted a carbon copy of one kid because he was “better” than the other. I just had a moment where I was wishing for two good students.
That being said, the thought did leave me feeling very guilty and trying to find a way to get a new perspective on the situation.
Well, after a lengthy discussion with my sister/therapist, I did.
Although on the surface, the issue seemed to be the hazard in comparing your kids to one another (which is also a very slippery slope), I quickly realized the real issue I had to consider was a little bit bigger.
I had to ask myself, could I accept my kids for who they are no matter what that means and let go of any expectations I ever had for them?
The short answer is, yes I can. But I don’t know if it’s always going to be easy.
With my kids being so young, I know what I’m learning to accept now will probably seem like a picnic compared to when they’re teenagers dealing with peer pressure, trying to find their identities, rebelling, etc.
But here’s what I think might help get me through the rough times now and then- I love my kids like crazy. I may not always be happy with their choices, but I think I can always love them no matter what.
I think it also helps to appreciate, no celebrate, their individual personalities and differences.
My son, who is not exactly an over-achiever when it comes to school stuff, is truly the happiest kid in town. He could have fun at an IRS tax law convention. He makes every day fun and adventurous because of his outgoing, quirky nature.
The bottom line is every child is different. I’m learning as a mom, accepting those differences, for better or worse, just comes with the territory.
Does this mean we just “accept” bad grades, bad behavior, bad attitudes because that’s just “who they are”?
No, of course not. We still have to give our children rules, guidelines, and consequences. But when they make choices that aren’t necessarily bad or harmful, just not what we would choose, we have to stand back and recognize they are individual people.
They are an extension of us but they are their own person. Like it or not, we have to let them be who they want to be.
I’ve always said all I really ever wanted for my kids was for them to be happy. But since I’m being honest here I would have to say I would also like them to be driven and successful as well.
Clearly, a Type A mom like me has a long way to go. But since I love my kids, I’m willing to work on it.
So when one of my kids comes home with a report card full of A’s, I will love him. When one of them comes home with a report card that says, “Call me please,” I will love him too.
When the “Tiger Mom” in me starts to pounce, I will try my best to retract those claws and remind myself, my children’s version of happiness might be a lot different than what I had in mind.