I often wonder why I don’t remember my own Mom hunched over in exhaustion and frustration trying to juggle it all.
It’s not that I don’t believe she didn’t struggle at times as a stay-at-home mom, but I just remember a really peaceful home. I remember her calming presence. Her steady, never-hurried pace. Her pause whenever I asked for it.
During the day, my older sister was in school while my Dad went to his job, so it was just my Mom and I at home during my pre-kindergarten years. While I absolutely loved playing with my core group of neighborhood friends, I was also an introspective, introverted kid who liked to look at books, play make believe in the corner of the playroom, build hideaways outside, do gymnastics and make art.
I don’t remember my Mom “teaching” me any of that, but I DO remember her giving me the freedom and the space to do it. She wasn’t over my shoulder all of the time, but she was never further than the next room. We didn’t do an activity every day, but she did take me for social trips to the library to get a new movie or a book.
And all of that was more than enough.
I’ve been thinking about those times a lot lately. The memories bring a peacefulness that my mind usually welcomes in the midst of a presently chaotic world of navigating motherhood and adulting.
But leave it to my mind to also find negativity in these memories too.
Because sometimes that memory of peace, freedom and love that my Mom provided for me as a kid will pop into my mind when I’m yelling at my own kids. When I’m hustling them out the door. When I’m telling them to hold on a minute when they ask me to play. When I’m telling them that they can’t go outside because Mommy has work she needs to do inside. When everyone is yelling and I can’t find any peace in my own mind to bring a calm to the room.
And I will start to imagine what my kids will remember when they look back on THEIR childhood. Will peace, freedom, love and comfort come out of their mouths if they are asked? Or will they remember yelling, restriction and chaos?
As I ask myself that question, I can’t help but shake my head in amazement that my mind is so subjected to comparison and judgement these days … that I feel like I have to compete against my own mother and my own childhood.
I compare… instead of seeing my Mom and her journey in raising me for what they were… which was a person, and an experience, that is completely independent of me and mine.
Because while I am grateful to possess some of my Mom’s qualities, we are also different people, driven by different things with different perspectives on the world around us based on our own life experiences.
And back then, my Mom wasn’t subjected to the entire neighborhood’s self-manufactured personas on social media. She didn’t have a smart phone that showed her scary news stories every day, or have sponsored content full of “expert” parenting advice begging her to open it. She didn’t have the social pressures to put us in every activity imaginable at age three or to spend every hour of her days at my side. Nope.
My Mom mothered in a world where she simply relied on her God-given motherly instincts to guide her, while infusing the positive lessons she learned from my grandmother to do the best she could in her own mothering journey.
And THAT is the legacy that I want to carry on… and pass on.
A legacy of parenting with authenticity. Not a legacy of being the exact mother that my mother was and the mother that HER mother was before her… but a legacy of doing the very best that I can… in the situation that I’m in … as the person that I am.
A legacy of trusting my gut and not an online source. A legacy of turning to my faith and not to a Google search bar. A legacy of relying on family and not my social media feed. A legacy of doing the best I can, and not doing what everyone else thinks is best.
Maybe that’s where that peace, freedom and love for which I’ve been looking lies… in simply being the mom that I authentically am, so that my kids get the best version of me.
That way, when they look back on their own childhood with favor one day as they are parenting their own children through THEIR early years, they will be inspired to carry on that authentic parenting legacy.
Because I don’t want them to be me.
I want them to see me being exactly who I am, and be inspired to be the best version of THEMSELVES as a parent one day.
Just like my Mom inspired me.
(I love you, Mama)
This article originally appeared at The Thinking Branch.