No strings

April 2, 2016          

Before I had kids there were lots of things I swore I’d “never” do as a parent.  

Since having children my expectations of myself have evolved from guidelines of housework and dietary habits to my impact on my children’s self-worth and identity.

Now, to my two sons, ages nine and three:

I hope I remember to compliment you for your good behavior more than I reprimand you for your mistakes.

I understand that you will internalize the messages I send you about yourself, good and bad, directly and indirectly, and I want you to know how amazing you are.

I hope I will understand your personality, I mean really know you, and love and accept you that way, even if you are my opposite.

I hope that I will remember that even if you are a lot like me, you are your own person, with your own worldview, talents, and opinions.

I hope that I will listen as much as I talk. When I listen, I hope I take the opportunity to know you more deeply, no more, no less.

I hope that I won’t make you feel responsible for my wellbeing by telling you my every struggle and sadness.

You will gather your own weary load to tote as you grow. I do not want you to waste your energy and strength carrying the weight of my experiences.

I hope I won’t rest all my happiness and identity on you. I hope I always have my own life, my own hopes and dreams that have nothing to do with you.

I hope I won’t make you feel guilty for growing up. I know there will come a point in your life when you no longer need me to take care of you, and that is as it should be.

I hope I always maintain a purpose separate from being your mom. I do not want to burden you with my need to feel needed.

I hope you will launch full force into the pursuit of your dreams, without looking back and worrying about whether or not I’ll be okay without you.

I hope I never forget that you didn’t ask to be born to me. You were a gift given to me by God. Raising you is not a burden. It is my pleasure.

I hope I remember that your respect is not my birthright. It must be earned.

I hope I always remember that every minute I devote to your care, every dollar I spend on you, is not a sacrifice. It is an investment not only in your future, but the future of the whole human race.

Because that’s how much I believe in you. You have the power to change the world, and I have a responsibility to help you tap into that power.

And someday, when you are grown, I hope you leave me confidently, with no strings attached.

All that I give you is free of charge. You owe me nothing in return, except to use your powers for good.

This article first appeared in the Lewistown News-Argus and the Sidney (Mont.) Herald on April 2, 2016.