The other day a group of my friends and I were eating pizza and salad while my daughters and her friends were trying to win tickets by spinning a miniature sized “ Price is Right” wheel. It was my oldest daughter’s birthday, she was having the time of her life, disappearing for minutes at a time only to return with the same expression “I need more tokens!”
In between passing out tokens and collecting tickets, the moms were discussing the different ways we celebrated holidays and birthdays growing up.
“ When I was growing up I never had a birthday party ” one mom announced. She went on to say how because she lacked parties when she was a child she now goes above and beyond for her two adorable daughters.
The “My Little Pony” themed birthday party she threw this past summer was equipped with 2 REAL horses for the kids to ride around the neighborhood, a professional dj, a performance by a child rapper , an ACTUAL fire truck that served mac’n cheese pizza, a photo booth, and party favors that included real CRAYOLA crayons.
Her statements made me think of a question my husband asked me a few weeks earlier…
“What makes you want to excel at being a mother?”
His question shocked me because it was both a compliment and a serious question that required a response.
“ I guess because I love them so much, and I aim to treat them how I would want to be treated”
I paused and thought for a moment
“ and because I’m scared I’ll be a bad mother”
The four letter word that wreaks havoc in so much of our lives. I began to wonder is fear always a bad thing in parenting? If not, how much is too much or too little?
Too much fear as a parent usually causes over compensation. For me that means I have a hard time saying no. Sometimes I clean up their toys when I shouldn’t other times, I don’t enforce the “ no tv shows tonight” consequence. Overall my kids know if they are looking for a “YES” they should ask mommy not daddy.
I remember growing up it felt like sometimes my mom took pleasure in telling me no. I remember really needing help and her “no” coming with smirk and a laugh, rather than “I’m sorry honey, i wish i could but I can’t.” It felt mean, and I just don’t want to be mean…. So maybe I’m a little too nice.
After talking to with my “Party Planner” friend I realized that I’m not the only mother who parents with a little bit of fear. There are probably lots of folks out there just like me, because raising a whole human being is a big deal, and the only real blueprint we get is our own childhood.
What came to mind is a quote from the great Madiba….
“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”
What I’ve decided is just to acknowledge my fears about parenting. Accepting their presence gives me the power to decide how much or how little they will affect my decisions. Ignoring them or denying them, strips me of that power. Those fears will probably always be there, and I’m okay with that, it’s not the fear that has power but my response to the fear that will shape who I am as a mother and who I am as a person.