Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mothers Day

I've worried many times whether I am a good mother or if my failures will lead to years of therapy for my children. As I write this on Mothers Day 2010, I know how blessed I am to have two wonderful sons who tolerate me with humor, patience and love despite my many failings.

I'm glad they don't remember the day I got so angry that I threatened to leave one of them at the store -- and nearly did. Or the time my hair-trimming got too close to the scalp and I had to try to convince my child I intended to make an Easter egg shape in his hair. There also were more than a few times when the Tooth Fairy forgot her task. And they will readily tell you that instead of milk and cookies waiting after school, they were greeted with "the interrogation." I also have no doubt that the many times I've embarrassed them will become the subject of a best-selling memoir by at least one of them someday (and possibly both PLUS years of therapy).

But through it all, especially when things seemed really difficult, I figured that if I could keep them alive until the end of the day, I'd done my job. I want to believe I am at least a "good enough" mother. And I am inordinately proud of the men my sons have become despite years with a crazy woman who calls herself their mom.

During the past week I've had some experiences that helped reinforce how fortunate I am -- but made my heart ache for other mothers and their children.

As we toured the Rockingham County Jail and walked through a cellblock amid the prisoners as part of the Citizen Police Academy, I wondered how their mothers feel about them being in such a place. I thought about the mother of another inmate at the facility who was part of a group of teenagers that brutally murdered a woman sleeping in her bed, and nearly killed her daughter, because they wanted to commit a home invasion and kill whomever they found inside. How does that mother reconcile herself to the reality that her son became a cold-blooded killer for fun? Does she still love him the same?

I also spent a few hours observing Family Court to fulfill my Citizen Police Academy requirements. In one case, a pre-teen was about to be placed in a group home and the unmarried and beyond-estranged parents will soon face neglect charges. It didn't take long to get a fairly good idea of why the child had behavior issues.

In another case, a young teenager's placement was reviewed and as she left the courtroom so custody issues could be discussed, she quietly said "Hi Mom" to a young woman seated in the back who didn't look much older than her. The woman ignored her. A short time later, when the mother tried to explain herself to the judge, it was clear she lacked parenting skills and probably was in need of a mother's guidance, herself.

I suspect the children in these cases face difficult years ahead. Do their mothers ever wonder -- or care -- if they are "good enough" moms? What will become of the kids? I don't know how the judge or the Division of Children and Youth Services workers deal with cases like these day after day, year after year, without becoming incredibly sad. And yet, the judge said that in her 20 years on the bench, she had only one case where the child did not want to be returned to the mother.

I suppose this speaks to the bond that exists between children and their mothers, whether they are mothers by birth or circumstances. Most of us want to believe there is always enough love in that bond to keep a child on a path to a good and happy life. But sometimes there isn't. And a great many parents and children struggle as a result. The rest of us should count our blessings and hope those children find someone to guide them to become happy adults and "good enough" mothers/parents themselves.


Karen Kullgren said...

a beautiful and sobering meditation on Mother's Day

chris remick said...

Of course you are a good Mother! Just the fact that you think about it with concern is indicative of that fact!

PatRemick said...

I hope so. As we all know, it sure ain't an easy job. I often wonder how many people would have children if they knew how difficult the job can be!

MaxWriter said...

Thank you for a beautiful post, Pat. We are indeed well blessed. Mothering is the hardest and most valuable work I have ever done!