Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Spinning straw into gold~

If I take credit for my daughter's intelligent, organized approach to life, then I must take blame for my youngest son's overdue library books. If I take credit for his athletic prowess and caring personality, then I have to blame myself for my oldest son's problems.

I'd love the credit, but not the blame. In reality, I deserve neither -- or maybe a little of both. But only a little. They are who they are, these kids of mine. They've been unique individuals from the moment they entered the world. I only polished the surface, and not even that these days as they live independent lives-- or nearly so. I've stored the "character polish" with the baby pictures. Its use by date has expired.

I gave my children half their genes and all my love. They didn't come with instructions for care. Each was-- is-- unique. What worked, what didn't, what was helpful or not, was different for each child. It was up to me to determine what would be best for each of them. And I wasn't always sure.

I advised, nurtured, and disciplined, fine-tuning my mothering to fit each child's needs as best I understood them. I relied more on common sense and innate maternal wisdom than on generic advice from child care experts who never met my children.

Despite me and because of me, my children are in control of their lives. Or in the case of my oldest, he holds the reins, and I have to let him, despite the fact that he often rides off into the brambles.

Faith, like muscle, is built by use. Saying you have faith is not enough. Faith requires you to lean hard on the object of your trust without flinching, without bracing for the chair to be pulled away just as you sit. I have leaned hard on myself, for I must have faith that what I do, what I have done and will do still, if nothing else, is the best I have to offer. That matters.

My children will take the tools I've provided and continue to shape their lives-- for the better, I hope. Or not. But that is for them to decide. I have faith in them, too. Each of them.
“If you raise your children to feel that they can accomplish any goal or task they decide upon, you will have succeeded as a parent and you will have given your children the greatest of all blessings.”~Brian Tracy


RiverPoet said...

What an amazing way of looking at motherhood. Indeed, we have spun straw into gold and then have to send that gold out into the world to become what it truly will be.

It's not easy, but it's so worth it to watch them mature and become their own people.

Peace - D

Tere said...

This was so touching. Faith . . . in your children, in yourself. Taking credit and blame. Each child is unique. You have said so many important things. This post is truly what parenthood is all about.

Ross Eldridge said...

Hi there, Ruth,

What a lovely photograph! And a really nice musing on parenthood. I suppose I am glad my children have been of the canine variety, and there were few bites, lots of kisses and waggy-tails, and the current "little one" was house-trained in a fortnight!

I've been the troublesome one in my family: behavior, substances, a free spirit that, yes, did lead me into the brambles. I am afraid, in my case, some of all this was given a kick-start by the behavior of my parents and other close family members, by my genes, and, perhaps most of all, by dodgy choices in friends.

I believe a good deal boils down to luck on the day. A chance meeting can change everything (for the good or the bad). We don't ask who we might meet on the Highway to Damascus, it might be a Savior or a Band of Brigands. Some kids, some grown-ups, just never bump into the right Being.

Still, the tares and the tearaways have their place.

Nice one, Ruth.


Lisa said...

You posts are always so touching . . . and leave me awestruck (and often can't find the right words to feel worthy of commenting). But I just wanted to say what a wonderful mother you must be. Your kids are so blessed. Lately I keep feeling sad about the fact that I didn't have children, but knowing there are moms like you out there, it makes me feel better.

This picture is absolutely divine, by the way -- so appropriate and so beautiful.

Janice Thomson said...

Such a poignant post Ruth. Your maternal instincts were and are better than any book could ever offer. How wise you understand the rest is now up to them and that whatever happens so be it - you have indeed done your part and so much more.
It's hard to let go and not want to advise or guide in a different direction even as they grow older. My daughter is 36 and I have to clamp my mouth shut and tell my heart to be still when she mentions something I feel is the wrong direction or attitude - and that's just it isn't it - what might be wrong for us could be the eye-opener our children really need to change directions.
We will always be parents till the day we die - hopefully with utter respect for their choices, needs and wants without "praise with faint condemnation".

leslie said...

I love how you've mused aloud and written so profoundly what all of us think and feel as we watch our children grow and move onwards in their own independent lives. It's hard when we realize that they no longer "need" us all the time. I think of it as a sort of push-pull relationship - pushing them out of the nest, but pulling them a tiny bit back so they don't forget us altogether.

Wanda said...

I must admit, as I read each of the comments, I was relating to all.. And your post, so beautifully tell what each mother's heart feels.

I thought of my own four unique children...the older ones in their 40's and you reminded me the tears, the joy, and hurt, that each brought...then our 37 and how my faith was tested and strenghten with episodes in her life that were heartbreaking...
You do us all a service Ruth, because you can put into words what our hearts want to say!!
LOL: Wanda

Barbara said...

Learning to have faith in our children is a hard lesson for most of us parents. I'm still working at it!

sc morgan said...

Ah, Ruth, a simply gorgeous photograph for a wonderful post. As Alan Noland once said: “The day a child realizes that all adults are imperfect he becomes and adolescent; the day he forgives them he becomes an adult; the day he forgives himself he becomes wise.” This applies to parents as well, I think, although I can't explain why right now.

Ruth D~ said...

There is something universal and inherent in being a mother. We all speak the same language of the heart.

And Ross . . . parenting a dog counts as raising a child. many similarities at times. :>)

david mcmahon said...

Thank you, Ruth, for your visit and your witty comment. I learnt my hymns at my mother's knee, so the answer is Yes!

I've thoroughly enjoyed scrolling through your blog. You deal with subjects that touch us all.

Do keep in touch.

Pam said...

A wonderful post with great comments. I've learnt a lot from both, particularly the comment "we don't ask who we might meet on the highway to Damascus".I also loved your description of offspring taking over the reins but riding off into the brambles.This has been touching and enlightening and as a parent of a 24 year old, I've found the territory familiar, but you've expressed it better than I could, with clarity and empathy. A great post.

Maggie May said...

A lovely post, you have done your children proud! Congratulations on POTD. Just came over from David's.

Jeni said...

Very true about raising kids -they are all different and manuals about child-rearing are only guides not hard, fast rules one has to follow for success. My older daughter often accused me of being much harder, much different in my parenting style with her and her brother too than I was with the younger girl. And yes, she's right too, I was much different with her but I always told her that I had different expectations with her, my first and by the time the third one came along, I had discarded some of the things I had done with the eldest because I knew they flat out didn't work at all or I'd seen they didn't jive at all with the younger and her much different personality. The end result in all three though actually was very much the same in that all three are strong, beautiful adults now, very loving, very sentimental and a host of other traits that they acquired from me, their Dad, other ancestors too and a few things from my parenting style too in the process. Really a great post on parenting and one that more people should read to give them a bit of calm about the experience.

Greg C said...

I am trying to give mine more that my parents gave me. That includes more knowledge of the world around them. I have to make them strong because life is getting tougher.

Sandi McBride said...

What a great post. I don't think anyone could have said it better! Congrats on Post of the Day, you deserve the recognition for this post!

lmerie said...

Wow, I like what you shared - very good.

Congrats on post of the day!