Parenting is a Tough Gig

Posted on | August 30, 2011 | 10 Comments

I want what is best for my son.

It seems like that should just go without saying when you’re a mother, but the more I read in the news and the more people I meet in my life, the more I think that perhaps I am living in a box.

I want what is best for my son.

Sure, selfishly I’d love nothing more than for my son to be the best looking, tallest, strongest, brightest, and kindest person in his class.  I’d love for him to be without reproach.  I’d love for everyone to look upon him with the same love and respect that I know he deserves.  I’d love for him to quarterback the football team, star on the basketball team, be indispensable in soccer, the lead of the school play, homecoming king, and class president.  I’d love for everyone to love him the way I love him.

Selfishly, I want him to be the most popular, the most well loved, and the most respected person on the planet. Selfishly, I think it would make his life easier.

But more than any of that, I want what is best for my son.

And it’s all about the emphasis, isn’t it?

I can want what is best for MY son, or I can want what is best for my SON.

Ultimately, what matters the most to me is that J is happy with the person he becomes… whoever that person is.  If he’s happy with who he is, I will be happy with who he is.

But J’s happiness comes with a price… it comes with the price of my own unhappiness.  It is easy to give in.  It is easy to be well-liked and the best friend.  It is easier to say “yes” than to say “no;” easier to go along with what he wants than to assert what he needs.  J’s happiness in the person he will become rests on my shoulders.  It depends on me being able to put away the things I want for me and to focus on what he needs for him.   His happiness rests on me taking responsibility, on me understanding that my childhood and teen years are over and my role is now that of mother, not friend.

I love my child with all my heart and dread the days ahead when he thinks I’m a stick in the mud and that I can’t understand anything he’s going through.  I dread the day I overhear him telling his friends that he can’t wait to go to college and be away from me.  I dread the first time he tells me he hates me.

But, more than that, I dread a day when I might look back and realize he never said those things, never felt that way about me, and never wished he could have some other mother.  Because if my son never thinks I’m being unfair, never thinks I’m “cramping his style,” and never wishes I would just. chill. out? Well. If that happens, then I’m not doing my job.

I want my son to be well-liked… but I want him to be well-liked because he is a likable guy.  I want him to be well-liked because he is kind and smart and just flat out amazing.  I don’t want him to be liked because he has a mother who will do the booze runs on Thursdays.  Selfishly, I want what is best for MY son.  I want him to be all the things I think he should be in order to be happy.  But as a parent, my job is to put aside “selfishly” and focus on reality.   And reality is that I have a job to do here, and that job is to raise my son to be a good man.

I will always choose parent over friend when my child is between the ages of 12 and 18.

I will be the embarrassment.

I will be okay with being whispered about behind open palms.

I will be hated and made fun of and whatever else if it means my son lives to a ripe. old. age.

I want what is best for MY son.  I want what is best for my SON.  And even when it won’t seem like it to him…

Sometimes they are the same thing.


10 Responses to “Parenting is a Tough Gig”

  1. Kristinayellow
    August 31st, 2011 @ 1:54 am

    If it’s ok with you, I’d like to share this with a child development class I’m teaching. I think it’s a good reminder of what a parent’s job really is-not what it appears on tv or in movies. It’s hard work-it’s heartbreaking-it’s rewarding-it’s life changing. But at the end of the day, we have to be parents, not friends.

  2. Anonymous
    August 31st, 2011 @ 1:52 pm

    awww, you flatter me. Of course!

  3. Cindy
    August 31st, 2011 @ 2:40 am

    Well said! (again…) This sounds like a conversation that I have with my 12 year old son all the time…”my job is to make sure you are making good decisions”, “no, a good mom does check on you and knows where are you are ALL the time at your age…”, “yes I do need to meet your friend’s parents before you go over his house”…..

  4. Anonymous
    August 31st, 2011 @ 1:53 pm

    I know. I don’t like being the bad guy… but its my job.

  5. tini
    August 31st, 2011 @ 5:28 pm
  6. Joel
    August 31st, 2011 @ 3:03 am

    If the lawyer thing doesnt work out, you have a brilliant future as an dependent writer.

  7. Joel
    August 31st, 2011 @ 3:08 am

    I meant independant (freelance) writer !!

  8. Anonymous
    August 31st, 2011 @ 1:52 pm

    ha! Thanks! 🙂

  9. Sara
    August 31st, 2011 @ 2:09 pm

    You made me laugh out loud with the “booze runs”. I too am not looking forward to the day my son decides I’m lame and old, but if I can look forward to the days after that (where he’s 30 and friends with me again like I am with my mom) then I can push through. 🙂 Love this perspective, thanks for sharing again. 🙂

  10. Kate
    September 1st, 2011 @ 4:39 pm

    I work with adolescents, and I’m sad to say that not every parent takes their “job” as seriously as you do. I admire your resolve to stick to your guns to do what’s best for your son even when it’s not the easy way. Cheers to you!

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