Yesterday, on my way home from work I get a call from my mother, "The BVM carnival is tonight"
(I hate carnivals) but I say "Okay, I'll bring the kids". After a quick dinner and homework, my two
younger children and I go to my mother's house. My aunt and cousin and most of my nieces and nephews
are waiting. We pile everyone into the car. "I hate carnivals" I say. My mother replies "When you're a mother you have to suffer a little for your kids" What?? Really?
Being a mother is the most wonderful and the hardest job in the world. When you are holding your beautiful new baby in your arms you imagine your life being like living in "Candyland". You're not going to make the mistakes you perceive your mother made. You're going to do everything right and your child is going to be
perfect, and she will love you as much as you love her.
The problem with this idea is that it's a BIG FAT EXPECTATION! I think by now we all know what happens when we have such expectations. The truth is that my mother is right, sometimes you suffer a little when you are a mother. Sometimes it's because your child is sick, maybe she's mentally ill and won't let you help her - you struggle with your instinct as a mother to want to help her and the helplessness you feel when she won't let you. Sometimes it's the harsh "I hate you!" when your child doesn't get his/her way. You know that you shouldn't take it personal. Someone once told me that if your child doesn't hate you during the teenage years then you're not doing a good job. Still those words hurt.
When you love these children so much that you would die for them and they tell you that they hate you - you suffer a little. It's easier not the take it personal when they are 2 or 3 yrs old. It gets harder when they are teenagers because we expect them to know better. We expect them to know how much that hurts us. (Although, I'm finding that the teen years are just the terrible twos all over again)
We are, once again, presented with the opportunity to practice letting go of our expectations. Accepting our children right where they are in this moment. Loving them - unconditionally and practicing balance. As our children grow we need to find the right balance between guiding them and allowing them to live their lives.
A teacher once told me that the Hindu goddess, Durga is a fierce warrior who will protect you and fight for you until you are strong enough to fight along side of her. Sounds like a mother to me. We are fierce warriors, aren't we? - protecting our children and fighting for them. The challenge is recognizing when they are strong enough to fight along side of you.
Like the woman at the carnival yesterday who lost her 3 year old daughter, we will suffer a little, but ultimately, we will experience a love so powerful that it's like nothing I can describe. The joys are so great, just ask the woman about joy when her little girl was found.