There’s this idea that comes with growing up in the millennial generation – that if our kids turn out anything like our mothers, we will have failed them. If they’re raised with even a few of the same rules, they’ll turn out horrible. Just maybe, if they aren’t given as much freedom as they would like, our kids will grow up hating us both as parents and as people. There’s been several studies showing just how selfish and independent millennials are, and while I can’t say I don’t agree, we’ve become so consumed with ourselves and our own lives that half of us don’t even want to experience being a mother or a father.
I’ve dreamt about the day I get to wrap my little girl in my arms since high school; where I will remind her no matter how ugly the world can get, she will always be beautiful because my mother has always done that for me. I tell myself I won’t get mad or judgemental when they come home smelling like a handle of vodka because I understand what it’s like to not want to feel like yourself anymore so much so that you’ll do whatever it takes to make everything a blur. I won’t force her to go to school when the world feels too heavy that day and if she wants to eat ice cream and cake for dinner, I’ll ask if she wants vanilla or chocolate. I tell myself I won’t pressure her to wear certain clothes or take up sports over arts because I know she is her own person and she isn’t the 14 year old athletic tomboy I used to be.
I tell myself these things, but truth be told, I don’t know what parenting will be like. I don’t know what I, as a parent, will be like, or what I’ll say when she wakes up crying, or how I’ll act when she comes home drunk for the first time. I don’t know what our relationship will be like when we get into arguments over grades or boys or friends. I tell myself these things, but I don’t know. Because I’m not there yet. And I probably won’t be for a few years. I don’t know what will happen between my future children and I, but I do know what I want for them and that will never change.
I want them to know they are loved. No matter what. I know there will be days when I want to strangle them, regardless of what they do, but I think that’s to be expected. It doesn’t mean I don’t love them any less than I did on the days I want to hug them close. There will be days when I’m not proud of the decisions they’ve made, but it won’t mean I won’t appreciate them any less than I did the day before. There will be friends and boyfriends and girlfriends that I won’t approve of and won’t understand, but it doesn’t mean I won’t be there with open arms with they walk away to remind them they are always worth it, even if someone doesn’t see it. There will always be days when things don’t seem to go right, but there will never be a day when my heart doesn’t explode with love for them.
I want them to know they can tell me anything. Literally anything. I don’t ever want to be the kind of parent that shoots down my child when they want to talk to me about something. I don’t ever want them to feel like they can’t open up to me – about drinking, about sex, about partying, about grades, about mental health, about anything. I get it and I’ve probably been through it, but I won’t pretend to know that I feel how they do. I don’t want my kids to feel like I’m judging them over alcohol, failed tests, or hidden piercings. I’ll be waiting whatever life throws their way, with open arms.
I want them to know their worth is not defined by any relationship. I was 16 when I fell for a guy I thought I could spend forever with. It was the first time I questioned my worth and wondered why I wasn’t good enough for him. At 19, I fell for someone I thought I could make plans with, not knowing that he wasn’t going to be around for them. It wasn’t until months later I realized I was complete on my own and that my self-worth wasn’t defined by anyone and certainly not a man. I don’t expect my children to not fall in love with someone, but they will always be reminded they are worthy and they have always been good enough – not because they’re a certain size or because they look or talk a certain way, but because they are imperfectly perfect and fearfully and wonderfully made.
I want them to know the importance in finding a balance. Healthy doesn’t always mean a salad or a juice cleanse. It isn’t always a measure of weight or the size of your clothes. Being healthy involves your spirit, your heart, and your mind just as much as it does your body. I hope and pray my children will never have to face the horror of disordered eating as I know from experience what it’s like to fall in love with seeing your bones sticking straight out or sliding into those size 3 jeans after days of never going over 600 calories. I want them to understand that sweets and junk food won’t make you unhealthy if you eat them every once in awhile. I want them to find that balance and I want them to know I’ll always be there to help them find their way back when they fall too far one way.
I won’t ever stop praying over the little girl or boy who will one day call me “mom” nor will I ever stop striving to be the mom I was raised with when they are born. And I know our relationship might not always be perfect, as none are, but I hope they never go a day without knowing and remembering this one thing: there will never come a time when I won’t be proud to be their mother, where I won’t proudly show the tiger stripes I earned while I carried them or where I won’t ever be available with a shoulder to lean on and ears to listen as they go on and on about their bad day or the cute boy or girl in their class. I always want them to know that.
Featured Image via Savannah Montano.