Recently, I have been talking to a lot of my friends who are moms. And I have been struck by the differences in parenting styles and philosophies and whatnot. And it reminded me of an “experiment” I did 5 or 6 years ago and the results. And it brought home to me today what I did not see about those results then.
So, 5 or 6 years ago, I was newly married and thus ready to “start a family”. ((This is one of the stupidest phrases in the English language. Anyone who thinks that you + your husband does not equal a family is an ass. The DreadBrewer and I have always been a family – having children just expanded our family.)) And my mom and I had had some discussions about the importance of children and being a mother, etcetera etcetera. And I didn’t like her attitude as regarded “the importance of children.”
I went around and asked every. single. woman. I knew who had kids what the most important, most defining, most pride-inspiring thing in her life was. And every. single. woman. I asked told me, “My kids.”
I asked my mom what the most important, most defining, most pride-inspiring thing in her life was. And my mom replied, “Oh, I don’t know. My marriage to your father. My work as an anesthetist. You kids.”
And I was appalled that we were not number 1 in her eyes. I couldn’t believe it. My own mother didn’t think I was the most important thing in her life!?!? Her proudest accomplishment?!?!
And then I had a child. And I loved (love) that child with a ferocity that astounds me and amazes me and humbles me. If you so much as think about messing with my kid or hurting her or doing anything that is even slightly detrimental to her well-being I will cut you.
I am proud of the fact that I am a good mom and I am doing my level best to raise a well-rounded, caring, giving, decent human being.
But, as much as I love my daughter, she is not the single most important thing that defines me. I am a woman, a wife, a nurse, a friend, a mother. And all of those aspects are important aspects of who I am as a person.
Which brings me to the “Landscape of Rightness.” ((I got this term from John and I love it because it is so true.))
There is a Landscape of Rightness in which we all raise our children. There are a few ways that are blatantly wrong (abuse, neglect, starvation). But, there are hundreds and thousands of ways that are right and move through this Landscape of Rightness. And just because your path is not the same as or parallel with or even intersecting with my path does not mean that either path is wrong.
Which makes me feel better that I am more like my mother than I thought I would be.
And makes me completely fine with the women I meet whose kids are their be-all, end-all. I am happy for them. Sometimes, I envy them.
But in the end, I know that we are all moving forward in a Landscape of Rightness. And that our kids are going to be okay, because we love them. And that’s the most important, most defining, most pride-inspiring thing.