Put five working moms no matter what their age, race, income or religion together, ask them what they feel most guilty about and I can almost guarantee you it will be about not having more time to devote to their children.
In reality, it’s all relative (pardon the pun). There’s no guidebook, no quantitative formula, no perfect number of hours required to make your children operate to their optimum capacity. All most of us can do is compare what we see or perceive others doing and sigh. “I’m not good enough,” “I’m working too much,” “my kids are going to pay.”
I used to put myself through that torture and even though I relapse from time-to-time, I think I’ve come a very long way. I’m a single mom, but my married-mom friends have some of the same doubts I had. Unlike the generations before us we not only are “judged” by ourselves, we’ve got a village of people we are trying to please.
There’s a thin line between love and hate. The problem is when either you and your kids cross that line too frequently.
OR in public which brings me to Wendy Williams.
In case you missed it, in an effort to explain the complexities of motherhood singer Madonna is having with her teenage son, Wendy burst into tears. She declared on national TV that her 13-year-old son Kevin hates her.
Now she’s in the most uncomfortable position of not only justifying why she did it but also explaining that she really is a wonderful mom and even Kevin knows it. She appeared on “The View” with Kevin’s hand drawn piece of art that only a mom could love that listing why Kevin thinks she’s the best.
She should stop. Wendy can turn a low-budget talk show into a ratings’ bonanza but what she cannot do is erase the past, take back her words or undo what has been done in front of millions.
None of us can.
All we can do is try to learn what so many people used to know so well: you can’t please your kids all the time, nor should you try.
If your kids love you all the time, you’re their best friend and parenting is easy, in the words of Ludacris, “you just aint doin’ it right.”
I grew up having very clear boundaries about parenting and friendship. My roots are Jamaican and even though the lines seem to blur more with each generation there is still a solid respect by even grown children for parents that you don’t see in all cultures, especially today.
I hope as a mom I’ve been able to balance what I experienced as a child with a disciplinary style that leads to respect and healthy fear. I’ve also added more fun and lightheartedness and know for sure I’ve dialed the corporal punishment way back.
I’ve sacrificed a lot of own social time to make sure they have a routine that really started in their infancy. Bedtime, meals, homework are pretty regimented, with exceptions of course. The pay off now is that they are pre-teens who know exactly what they’re supposed to do and that gives me more time for myself.
Kids want and need boundaries but they should be guided in a way that results in mutual respect.
I do feel for Wendy. She’s learning what we all have or will if we’re raising children— that we all will struggle with one child or maybe all of them.
The key is loving them for the person they are and not who we want them to be. I have more personality conflicts with one of my sons than the other but I don’t take it personally. I do my best to praise him for all the good that he brings and try not to focus on the ways in which we differ.
As women we can all help Wendy and other moms we know by not making them feel that they are wrong, or crazy or inept when they make mistakes or when their kids do. I can promise you there days you can catch me not following any of the wisdom I know to be true. And even if I am, it might be the day my kids are putting me to the test and I’m failing miserably.
We all are works in progress. We will continue to form and transform until the day we die. So will our babies. The one thing they should be able to count on is our love, guidance and later our friendship
How many of us wish we could take back a word or action that hurt our parents? My hand is up. We can’t and neither can our kids. If we remember this and not put unrealistic expectations on them as they grow to be who they’ll become we’ll shed fewer tears.