It is almost Mother's Day. I wrote an article a couple of months ago and I wanted to write an article in honor of my personal journey as a mother.
I have been a mother for over 17 years now. My first Mother's Day was on my wedding anniversary to my children's father and it was spent at the hotel where we had spent the night on our wedding night. Over the years I have had my great moments as a mom, but I have made my mistakes. I have fallen on my face. I faced adversity.
Since that first Mother's Day, I have since divorced their father after the birth of my youngest daughter in 2002. It was a difficult time for me. It was a time for me to grow and learn that I had not done before. Since I had not held a steady job for 5 years because I was a full-time mother, we decided to allow my children's father to have primary custody since I was not financial stable at the time of our separation.
I struggled to get a job and ended up losing the first post-separation job on my 28th birthday as I was dealing with some physical difficulties because of the stress. I ended up working through an employment agency doing telemarketing (Yes, I was one of those who would disrupt your dinner!) until I could have a permanent job. I then ended up working for another employment agency as a contractor for 2 1/2 years.
It was during that time I started to understand and appreciate that I did not have custody of my children, but saw them weekly during my weekend visitations. I saw a few of my co-workers who were single mothers lose their job through the employment agency because they had to call off from work and take care of a sick child. There was the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) that could have protected them. But all of us were only working there for under a year and it did not cover us at all, which allowed the agency and company to fire us at a moment's notice because of too many absences doing something that was responsible. FMLA is not 100% perfect especially for those who are single mothers or fathers with no resources to assist them when they need it.
I am grateful that I had the support of my children's paternal grandparents since they were living with their father. I have had the opportunity to thank them in person for their help. I did not want to lose a second job because I needed to take of them since they could not be in a day care. I did not want to have to depend on being on government assistance off and on. I wanted my children to have a more stable environment than I had growing up. I believe that physical and emotional stability is very important and a necessary for them. I witnessed years later how an unstable environment can affect children through other family members and friends. I am grateful that my children had a very stable environment growing up.
I did not have the support of my own parents after my first divorce. In fact, I was considered that "black sheep" of the family after the separation and was cut off from the rest of my immediate family. It was a big black eye in the situation.
Since that time period, I have moved on to better jobs and opportunities for myself. I completed an undergraduate and a graduate degree with a second graduate degree halfway complete. I moved to Chicago for a better employment opportunity when the job market in my home state of Minnesota did not have many at the time just as the big recession started. I also met a great guy during the moving process as well who would become their stepfather three years later. I allowed my children to stay in Minnesota with their father, stepmother, half-sister, and their friends with everything familiar to them. I wanted to them to continue the stability that they have. They are great children because of my tough decisions.
I made the sacrifice so my children had a stable home. It is a decision that I still struggle occasionally. I miss them greatly. I am sure that I missed some great moments over the last seven years, but I have accepted my decision and moved on. My kids are older now and it is getting easier. I am now thankful for Steve Job's technological innovation to create the iPod Touch and iPhone with FaceTime because it really had helped with another way to keep in touch with my children. I look forward to my bi-weekly or monthly chats with my kids especially my daughter when I do not connect with them via e-mail a couple times a week. I even looking forward to my FaceTime chat tomorrow for Mother's Day. My children know that I am available to them when they need me even just for a phone call or e-mail.
I may be far away from my children, but I am very involved parent. As I see some of my friend's deal with their children's father and their lack of communication or involvement in their lives, I feel really good about how well I have kept up with my children especially when it comes to their education. I check their grades online weekly and keep tabs when things start to slide. If I see it, they will know that I have been monitoring their grades and act on it quickly. Besides correcting them, I am proud that I do very well when it comes to rewarding them when they do well in school. I love surprising my daughter with a Kindle book or two after a superduper trimester from her personal wish list.
For all of the mothers out there especially the new ones, here are some tips that I have for you:
- Learn to make mistakes and own up to them. It is okay to fall on your face. No one is 100% perfect. Stop believing that you are not worthy if you have take your kids to McDonalds once in awhile because you were running late at work and too tired to cook dinner. It is alright to do that. Let go of your perception of perfection.
- Stop reading all of the self-help books on parenting! You are the expert of your own child. There are no rules on how to properly raise your child. Create your own rules. Just focus on the important things like teaching respect and manners.
- Take care of YOURSELF! If you do not take care of yourself, who's going to do it? Learn to pamper yourself. Go get that manicure, pedicure or massage (or all three!). Be good to yourself and learn to respect yourself. Quiet the negative nellies in your head. Learn to forgive yourself as much as you forgive others. When you take care of yourself, you will be a better parent for your children. They will see a happy and relaxed parent instead of one that's grumpy all of the time.
- Learn to LET IT GO! Put the past in the past. Focus on the present and the now. Do not worry about the future. Enjoy your children when they are little. The time will go FAST!
- Create a stable environment for yourself and your children. Children need stability as much as they need love. A children who comes from a stable home will far better than a child from unstable home where they may struggle.
I believe that I am a great parent and have two of the smartest and awesomest kids. I know that I have made my own mistakes in the past, but I have allowed myself to let them go. I know that I have become a stronger person through the lessons that I have learned in the past. I am happy with what my future for my children holds.
Happy Mother's Day!