Today I dropped Ben off for his sixth grade class trip to Mt. Evans. With a smile, I watched him walk away with his dad's old duffel bag tossed over his shoulder, a sleeping bag and pillow. Yes, he made me promise to stay in the car. This he could do on his own, he said.
This may seem like a minor accomplishment but it's actually huge. Both Briahna and Ben had severe separation anxiety after Sean's suicide. I couldn't be out of their sight for more than minutes at a time without them freaking out that something would happen to me. They slept in my bed for six months and then needed to sleep near me in the family room for another six months before returning to their own rooms. It was another year before either could be away from me overnight. Now, four years later, they are 'normal' kids who can walk away from me with only a backward glance and casual wave. When I think of the journey we three have endured, all I want to say is, "looks like we're gonna make it"!
As parents, we all hope to raise kids who are independent, responsible and moral. It's easy to get caught up in the fighting between siblings, the teenage (and pre-teen) attitude, the stress of daily parenting and the doubts about our parenting ability, but today I glimpsed the bigger picture. And that bigger picture told me that I am doing a good job as an only parent.
Yes, I get worn out playing referee, lose my temper when I am too tired, and sometimes daydream about how easy my life was pre-child and pre-suicide. But then I get these glimpses of the mini-adults I am raising and am blown away. My daughter will suddenly have a mature conversation with me about her plans for high school or ask me about her dad's illness with a wisdom that knocks me back on my heels. Then my son will announce that he's going to do his own laundry from now on and will walk off to a five-day class trip with a confidence that makes me proud.
Rarely, we parents congratulate ourselves for handling it all---the kids, the carpools, the work, the house, the car, the social life, the homework, the kids' activities and the emotional b.s. that comes with parenting. But we need to step back, look at the kids as others see them, and realize that we are doing it right. We are doing the best we can for our family, on our terms every day. When we realize that there is no family exactly like ours, therefore no need to compare, we can embrace the uniqueness that makes our quirks extra-special.
Getting tangled up in self-criticism is a waste of time and something most of us do on a regular basis, especially when it comes to parenting. There are bumps and bruises and tears and arguments; but there are also triumphs and hugs and laughter and love.
So today I am giving myself a pat on the back for doing the best I can with our unique family circumstances and raising two amazing children on my own. In fact, I think I am doing a good job as a parent--no matter what the circumstances would have or could have been.
In a world of stress and criticism, it's important to take time to look at ourselves objectively, allow ourselves to see the big picture and give ourselves permission to celebrate all the good that we do every day. Good job! We all deserve a high-five, fist bump or big hug..and let's not forget it.
About Moxie Girl Musings
Moxie Girl Musings is about starting over from square one after tragedy impacted my young family. It's filled with stories of triumph, struggle, snafus, hopes, and dreams. Sometimes there will be features from other writers that I like and every so often I'll include an original short story, but normally I simply write what's on my mind at the time. Welcome to my unfiltered true-life story as I figure out this thing called life. http://www.amberleaeaston.com