I have had several jobs in my life, but none were as important as my job as a mother. I've experienced my share of successes and failures in many areas, but how do I measure success as a parent? I was a single parent for most of their growing up years, but I was lucky that their father was in their lives (every other weekend, which gave me some time to myself, and ensured they kept a connection with their dad), and I was especially lucky that my parents cared for the kids while I worked. I insisted on paying them, but I didn't pay them as much as I would have a day care, and I did not have to worry about my children being mistreated. They were in a loving, safe environment, which gave me a tremendous sense of peace of mind.
I have definitely dealt with some trials in raising my children, even once they became adults. I had an especially harrowing experience with one adult child, which made me seriously question my abilities as a parent. I asked myself over and over if it was my fault. But then I would think, if it’s my fault, why didn’t it happen with the other two? I don’t think there’s a good answer to these questions. I think sometimes, in spite of our best efforts, things happen with our children we can’t control. We just have to do the best we can and raise them with love and discipline. Thank God things are much better now.
This is Lana and Lacey, who are now 30 and 28, respectively.
This is Presley, who is 21.
Here they are all grown up (You might have seen this on my FB page. I use the same pic over and over because it’s the only one I have of the three of them together as adults)
And here is a picture that Presley drew for a third grade school assignment about “Looking into the Future”:
I’m not sure if you can read his childish scrawl, but it says:
I see myself robbing banks and putting grenades in mailboxes and chimneys.
(as you can see, he included a nice little drawing to represent his plans for the future. And, yes, he actually turned this in. Fortunately, his teachers knew of his wild imagination and that he was a well-behaved child and wasn’t a danger to society, so we had no Homeland Security issues to deal with.)
I am pleased to say that he did not, however, grow up to rob banks or put grenades in mailboxes and chimneys. I most definitely count that as a success. :) He had a slightly twisted mind-set as a young child, and kind of still does (myself and my three children love horror movies, serial killer stories, and all kinds of dark and creepy things). But, as my sister , Christi Robertson Perryman, pointed out, this is the same kid who goes to see his grandmother in the nursing home each week on his only day off and lies next to her on the bed and visits with her and pats her hand. So...I think we're certain that he's relatively harmless.
In spite of the hard work and trials (and mistakes and regrets), being a mother was a joy and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. As adults, all three of my children are healthy, happy, and well-adjusted (for the most part :)). They are respectful to me, we’re very close, and they still like to spend time with me. They are all hilarious and a blast to hang out with. I talk with all three of them on the phone, if not in person, pretty much daily. They come to me to vent, ask for advice, or to just talk about things going on in their lives. Can I count that as a sign of success? Or did I just get lucky? Whether it was any of my own doing or not, I’m very proud of the adults my children have become, and I treasure our relationship.
Parenting is the hardest job I’ve ever had, yet the most rewarding. I heard a saying once that a mother is only as happy as her unhappiest child, and I have found that to be painfully true.
What about you? How do you measure success as a parent?