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The Smell of Guilt and Regret

starfishWhen I was about ten years old, I found a starfish lying on the beach and somehow convinced my parents to let me bring it home. I have no idea how I managed that, but I do remember my dad suggesting that we let the starfish “dry out” in his greenhouse.

Dad’s greenhouse was the latest in a series of projects he’d undertaken to pursue his avid love of gardening.

I don’t know why he thought putting the starfish in there was a good idea, but I’m sure he was thrilled with my interest in something involving nature. I’m just as sure that he regretted his decision.

I can’t remember if the starfish ever did “dry out.” What I do remember is the horrible smell that permeated the greenhouse only a few short days after the starfish arrived. I also remember being confused as to why my dad would make such a horrible recommendation.

When the smell was no longer bearable, my dad convinced me that the starfish didn’t belong in the greenhouse, in our yard or even anywhere in Central Oregon. We eventually discarded it, but the stench remained until the greenhouse was torn down. I hadn’t thought of the starfish or the greenhouse for decades until last week when I was out riding my bike and the hot, summer breeze brought with it the whiff of something horrid.

The memory came flooding back.

I shouldn’t have been surprised.

Science has proven that smell is the sense most closely linked to memory and the most likely to elicit strong emotions.

In this case, that emotion was guilt.

I felt guilty about bringing the starfish home. I felt guilty about the horrible stench it created in my father’s greenhouse. And most of all, I felt guilty for questioning my dad’s judgement or good intentions.

But the guilt didn’t last long. I was so very young when the starfish incident occurred. I’ve since made many more and much greater mistakes, all of which have taught me the importance of forgiving myself.

But even more importantly, I’m a mom. I now understand that parenting isn’t necessarily about trying to be perfect in the eyes of our children or about living a life with no regrets. Instead, it’s about teaching our kids that life is one big experiment. And, when things don’t go as planned, we all have to live with and learn from the consequences.

Even when they really stink.

365 Reasons to Smile – Day 309

Mother's DayI’m not a perfect mother, but then, I’m not a perfect human.

I am making plenty of mistakes while raising my children.

But that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

When they see me make mistakes and carry on anyway, they know they can do the same. When they see me make mistakes and learn from them. they can better understand how to use their own mistakes to their advantage. And when I apologize for my mistakes, they learn to take responsibility for their actions.

Most of all, when my kids love me  despite my flaws, they realize that perfection is never a criteria for love.

And that always makes me smile.

Day 309: Lessons Learned from Motherhood  Day 308: When a Difficult Problem is Solved Day 307:  Living Near Hills and Mountains  Day 306: Recognizing How Far Women Have Come Day 305: Creative House and Yard Decorations Day 304:  The Power to Forgive Day 303: Marrying Someone Who Always Knows How to Make Me Smile  Day 302: People Who Sport the Breaking Bad Car Magnet Day 301:  The song of the whippoorwill  Day 300: Coming Home Day 299: Clean Water Day 298: Blue Bells Day 297: Listening to Books When Driving Long Distances Day 296: Walking in the Woods Day 295: The Warm Sun on My Face Day 294: Turning Loud Shoes into a Conversation Item  Day 293: Seeing Something New in the Every Day  Day 292: Dreams Day 291:  “What a Wonderful World”  Day 290: Softly Falling Petals During Spring Day 289: Home king with Love Day 288: Coloring Easter Eggs  Day 287: The View From Above Day 286:  The Wisdom of Mr. RogerDay 285: The Princess Bride    Day 284: All Creatures Great and Small  Day 283: The Legend of the Dogwood  Day 282: Sleeping with the Windows Open  Day 281: Four Significant Birthdays in One Year Day 280: Discovering Great Music Day 279: Funny Names for Wi-Fi connections  Day 278: Sad Cat Diary Day 277:  The Smiling Cow  Day 276: Celebrating 16 years of motherhood  Day 275: Seeing Potential in Our Children  Day 274: Stained Glass Day 273: Naturalization Ceremonies Day 272: “Let It Be” by the Beatles Day 271: Sharing Meals with Great Friends Day 270: Daffodils  Day 269:  April Fool’s Day Day 268: Acoustic Music  Day 267: Country Roads  Day 266: Sunsets on Pamlico Sound  Day 265: The Sound and Smell of the Ocean  Day 264: Crossing the Bonner Bridge Day 263: Mark Twain Quotes Day 262: Old-fashion Fun Day 261: The Far Side Cartoons by Gary Larson Day 260:  Nostalgic Theme Songs  Day 259:  Appreciating Life’s Rewards  Day 258: Awkward Conversations With Strangers  Day 257:  The arrival of Spring  Day 256:  Being Saved by Buffy the Vampire Slayer  Day 255:  Thoughtful Husbands Day 254:  The Pot of Gold at the End of the Rainbow Day 253: When Kids Want to Clean  Day 252: Conversations in Cars  Day 251: Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day  Day 250: Bonnie Bell Over-sized LipSmackers versus Egg-Shaped Eos Lip Balm  Day 249: Watching Those I Cherish Sleep  Day 248: Getting Back on My Bike after the Longest Winter  ay 247: “Don’t Worry. Be Happy.”  Day 246: Multiple Reminders of Beauty  Day 245: Being Nice to Total Strangers Day 244: The Perfect PhrasDay 243:  Little Girls With AttitudeDay 242: The Soup Nazi  Day 241: Contagious Smiles  Day 240: Oklahoma  Day 239: Dr. Seuss’ Persistence  Day 238: Over-Dependence on Spell Check  Day 237: Only 28 days  in February  Day 236: Genuine Signatures  Day 235: Television Personalities Who Don’t Take Themselves Too Seriously Day 234:  The Words “Happy Birthday”  Day 233: Teenagers Who Care about Their Grandparents  Day 232:  “Morning Has Broken”Day 231: Avoiding Jury Duty  Day 230: Melting Snow after a Long Winter  Day 229: Hungry Teenage Boys   Day 228: Having a DreamDay 227: Mispronunciations  Day 226: Awkward Animal MomentsDay 225: Shaking Hands With Scott HamiltonDay 224:  Having an Office With Windows Day 223: Watching Our Children Mature  Day 222: Getting the Upper Hand Over Life’s Challenges  Day 221: St. Teresa’s Prayer  Day 220: Children Who Are True to Self    Day 219: Frosted Sugar Cookies Day 218: Children with a Global Perspective Day 217: Enchanted  Day 216: Having a “secret weapon” Day 215: Jack and Diane  Day 214: The Volkswagen Beetle Day 213: Moments that Can’t Be Recreated  Day 212: “The Soul” Quote   Day 211: Rubber Ducky  Day 210: Tracks in the Snow   Day 209: Finding a Penny on the Ground Day 208: Kids who Use Their Manners  Day 207: Reminders of Warm Sunny Days  Day 206:  Dogs Playing in the Snow  Day 205:  Descriptive Phrases  Day 204: Arsenic and Old Lace  Day 203: Reminders of Resiliency  Day 102: Stephanie’s Ponytail Day 201: Being Asked to Help  Day 200: Boys and Their Toys  Day 199: The Most Important Person  Day 198: People With Courage to Do What is Right  Day 197: Being Pleasantly Surprised by My Children  Day 196: Being Told I’m Young  Day 195: Good News  Day 194: Meaningful Eye Contact   Day 193: A Sense of Accomplishment Day 192: Growing Into the Person I’ll Someday Be  Day 191:  Matt Groening  Day 190: Tuning Out Bad News and Tuning In to What We Enjoy  Day 189: Parents Who Encourage Independence  Day 188: Watching Young Minds at Work  Day 187: Funny Phone Calls  Day 186: Healthy Lungs  Day 185: Reality Checks Day  184: Coincidence  Day 183: Lame Attempts to Go Retro  Day 182: Learning From Our Mistakes  Day 181: Goofy Childhood Memories  Day 180: A soak in a bathtub  Day 179: Optimism  Day 178: The Year’s Top Baby Names  Day 177: Reading on a Rainy Day   Day 176: “Don’t Stop Believin'” by Journey  Day 175: Watching the Torch Pass  Day 174: Converse Tennis Shoes  Day 173: Family Acceptance  Day 172: Christmas Day 171: The Mr. Grinch Song  Day 170: Positive People  Day 169: Watching Movies From my Childhood With My Kids  Day 168:  Jealous Pets   Day 167:  Family Christmas Recipes  Day 166:  Church BellsDay 165:  School Holiday   164: Unexpected Grace  Day 163: Letting Go of Things We Can’t Control  Day 162: Anticipating a good story   Day 161: Hope  Day 160:  When Dogs Try to Avoid Embarrassment  Day 159: Surprises in the Mail  Day 158: Kids who aren’t superficial  Day 157:  A Garage on Winter Days    Day 156:  Real Christmas Trees    Day 155: Being a Parent   Day 154: Selfless People Day 153:  Nelson Mandela  Day 152: Memorable Road Trips  Day 151: Great Neighbors  Day 150: Oscar Wilde’s quote about being yourself   Day 149:  Love Letters  Day 148:  The first day of Advent  Day 147: The Breakfast Club   Day 146: Marriage and Shared Anniversaries 145: JFK’s quote about gratitude  Day 144:  Watching My Dog Play   Day 143: Having my Family’s Basic Needs Met  Day 142:  When Our Children Become Role Models  Day 141: Random Acts of Kindness  Day 140; People Watching  Day 139: Sharing Interests with My Children  Day 138: Eleanor Roosevelt’s Best Advice  Day 137: Weird Human Behavior about Garbage  Day 136: Postcards from Heaven  Day 135: Mickey Mouse  Day 134: Generous Souls  Day 133: I’m Moving On  Day 132: A Family That is Really Family  Day 131:   A Personal Motto  Day 130:  Mork and Mindy  Day 129: The Bears’ House  Day 128:  Veterans  Day 127: Doppelgangers  Day 126: Letting Life Unfold as It Should  Day 125: The Constantly Changing Sky  Day 124: When History Repeats Itself   Day 123: The Love Scene in The Sound of Music Day 122:  Helen Keller  Day 121:  The Welcome Back Kotter Theme Song  Day 120: Sheldon Cooper  Day 119: Having Permission to Make Mistakes  Day 118: A Diverse Group of Friends  Day 117:  Family Traditions Day 116: The Haunting Season  Day 115; Life Experience Day 114:  Changes  Day 113:  The Wooly Bear Caterpillar  Day 112: The National Anthem  Day 111: Parents Who Care   Day 110: Good Friends Day 109:  My Many Colored Days by Dr. Seuss  Day 108:  A.A. Milne QuotesDay 107: Spending Time Wisely Day 106: Parades  Day 105:  The Peanuts Gang Dancing   Day 104:  Sharing a Secret Language   Day 103:  The Electric Company  Day 102:  Doing the Right Thing  Day 101:  When Siblings Agree  Day 100: Being Optimistic  Day 99: Trying Something New   Day 98:  The Sound of Children on a Playground  Day97: Good Advice  Day 96: Red and white peppermint candy  Day 95:  The Soundtrack from the Movie Shrek Day 94:  Accepting Change    Day 93:  True Love     Day 92: Camera Phones   Day 91: Bicycle Brakes    Day 90:  HeroesDay 89: The Cricket in Times Square  Day 88:  The Grand Canyon  Day 87: Unanswered Prayers Day 86: Apples Fresh from the Orchard Day 85: Being Human  Day 84: Captain Underpants  Day 83: The Diary of Anne Frank  Day 82: In Cold Blood Day 81: Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry  Day 80: The Outsiders   Day 79:  I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings Day 78: The First Amendment Day77: People Who Touch Our Lives   Day 76:  The Rewards of Parenting    Day 75:  Improvements   Day 74:  Family Traditions   Day 73: Learning From Our Mistakes  Day 72: Live Music  Day 71:  Sleeping In  Day 70:  Grover  Day 69:  A Good Hair Day   Day 68:  A Sense of Community   Day 67: Kindness   Day 66: Living in a Place You Love   Day 65: Gifts from the Heart   Day 64: The Arrival of Fall  Day 63: To Kill a Mockingbird   Day 62: Green LightsDay 61:  My Canine Friends  Day 60:  Differences   Day 59:  A New Box of Crayons   Day 58: Bookworms  Day 57: Being Oblivious  Day 56: Three-day Weekends  Day 55:  A Cat Purring  Day 54: Being a Unique Individual   Day 53: Children’s Artwork  Day 52: Lefties  Day 51: The Neighborhood Deer  Day 50: Campfires  Day 49: Childhood Crushes  Day  48: The Words “Miss You”  Day 47:  Birthday Stories   Day 46: Nature’s Hold on Us  Day 45:  Play-Doh   Day 44: First Day of School Pictures  Day 43: Calvin and Hobbes  Day 42: Appreciative Readers  Day 41: Marilyn Monroe’s Best Quote   Day 40:  Being Silly  Day 39:  Being Happy Exactly Where You Are  Day 38: Proud Grandparents  Day 37: Chocolate Chip Cookies   Day 36: Challenging Experiences that Make Great Stories  Day 35: You Can’t Always Get What You Want  Day 34:  Accepting the Fog    Day 33: I See the Moon  Day 32: The Stonehenge Scene from This is Spinal Tap  Day 31: Perspective  Day 30:  Unlikely Friendships  Day 29: Good Samaritans  Day 28:  Am I a Man or Am I a Muppet?    Day 27: Shadows  Day 26: Bike Riding on Country Roads  Day 25: When Harry Met Sally  Day 24: Hibiscus   Day 23: The Ice Cream Truck  Day 22:  The Wonderful World of Disney   Day 21: Puppy love  Day 20 Personal Theme Songs  Day 19:  Summer Clouds  Day 18: Bartholomew Cubbin’s VictoryDay 17:  A Royal Birth    Day 16:  Creative Kids  Day 15: The Scent of Honeysuckle   Day 14: Clip of Kevin Kline Exploring His MasculinityDay 13: Random Text Messages from My Daughter     Day 12:  Round Bales of HayDay 11:  Water Fountains for Dogs    Day 10: The Rainier Beer Motorcycle Commercial Day 9: Four-Leaf Clovers  Day 8: Great Teachers We Still RememberDay  7:  Finding the missing sock   Day 6:  Children’s books that teach life-long lessonsDay 5: The Perfect Photo at the Perfect Moment   Day 4:  Jumping in Puddles  Day   3: The Ride Downhill after the Struggle Uphill    Day 2: Old Photographs  Day 1: The Martians on Sesame Street

365 Reasons to Smile – Day 47

kendallTwelve years ago today, my daughter was due to arrive in the world.

I was positive she wouldn’t.

No one in my family went into labor on time, and my son, who had been born nearly 3 1/2 years earlier, was induced.

I should have realized how different siblings can be.

My son is never in a hurry and takes his time doing anything.

My daughter is more precise, which is probably why she arrived on her due date.

But up to the last-minute, I was convinced she would be born a Virgo rather than a Leo.

My husband loves to tell the story about how I insisted on walking the dogs when my contractions were less than five minutes apart. I love to report my efficient use of the short the time between arriving at the hospital and holding Kendall in my arms.

Twelve years later, my husband and I love our opinionated daughter more than ever.

We also laugh at her first professional baby picture, which shows her attitude at an early age (as evidenced by a certain finger gesture).

And that always makes us smile.

Day 47:  Birthday Stories   Day 46: Nature’s Hold on Us

Day 45:  Play-Doh   Day 44: First Day of School Pictures

Day 43: Calvin and Hobbes  Day 42: Appreciative Readers

Day 41: Marilyn Monroe’s Best Quote   Day 40:  Being Silly

Day 39:  Being Happy Exactly Where You Are  Day 38: Proud Grandparents

Day 37: Chocolate Chip Cookies   Day 36: Challenging Experiences that Make Great Stories

Day 35: You Can’t Always Get What You Want

Day 34:  Accepting the Fog    Day 33: I See the Moon

Day 32: The Stonehenge Scene from This is Spinal Tap

Day 31: Perspective

Day 30:  Unlikely Friendships  Day 29: Good Samaritans

Day 28:  Am I a Man or Am I a Muppet?    Day 27: Shadows

Day 26: Bike Riding on Country Roads

Day 25: When Harry Met Sally

Day 24:  Hibiscus   Day 23: The Ice Cream Truck

Day 22:  The Wonderful World of Disney   Day 21: Puppy love

Day 20 Personal Theme Songs     Day 19:  Summer Clouds

Day 18: Bartholomew Cubbin’s Victory Day 17:  A Royal Birth        Day 16:  Creative Kids Day 15: The Scent of Honeysuckle   Day 14: Clip of Kevin Kline Exploring His Masculinity Day 13: Random Text Messages from My Daughter     Day 12:  Round Bales of Hay Day 11:  Water Fountains for Dogs    Day 10: The Rainier Beer Motorcycle Commercial Day 9: Four-Leaf Clovers  Day 8: Great Teachers We Still Remember Day  7:  Finding the missing sock   Day 6:  Children’s books that teach life-long lessons Day 5: The Perfect Photo at the Perfect Moment     Day 4:  Jumping in Puddles   Day 3: The Ride Downhill after the Struggle Uphill    Day 2: Old Photographs Day 1: The Martians on Sesame Street

365 Reasons to Smile – Day 37

I have absolutely no right to complain about my childhood. I had caring parents, and all my basic needs were met.

In fact, my basic needs were met to such an extent that there wasn’t room for guilty pleasures.

At least that’s what my mom thought.

She was the queen of making sure her children never ate an empty calorie.

Instead of dough, her pizza crust was made of zucchini, and I was 12 before I discovered how great fish tasted when it was fried instead of broiled.

But her biggest concern was our sugar intake.

In hindsight, I appreciate her efforts to convince us that whole wheat, carob cookies with half the sugar were a treat. But as a child, I thought I was being chocolate chip cookiestortured.

I swore I’d never subject my own children to fake comfort food.

And I never did.

Even though I don’t particularly enjoy cooking or baking, everyone raves about my chocolate chip cookies.

And that always makes me smile.

Day 37: Chocolate Chip Cookies  Day 36: Challenging Experiences that Make Great Stories

Day 35: You Can’t Always Get What You Want

Day 34:  Accepting the Fog    Day 33: I See the Moon

Day 32: The Stonehenge Scene from This is Spinal Tap

Day 31: Perspective

Day 30:  Unlikely Friendships  Day 29: Good Samaritans

Day 28:  Am I a Man or Am I a Muppet?    Day 27: Shadows

Day 26: Bike Riding on Country Roads

Day 25: When Harry Met Sally

Day 24:  Hibiscus   Day 23: The Ice Cream Truck

Day 22:  The Wonderful World of Disney   Day 21: Puppy love

Day 20 Personal Theme Songs     Day 19:  Summer Clouds

Day 18: Bartholomew Cubbin’s Victory Day 17:  A Royal Birth        Day 16:  Creative Kids Day 15: The Scent of Honeysuckle   Day 14: Clip of Kevin Kline Exploring His Masculinity Day 13: Random Text Messages from My Daughter     Day 12:  Round Bales of Hay Day 11:  Water Fountains for Dogs    Day 10: The Rainier Beer Motorcycle Commercial Day 9: Four-Leaf Clovers  Day 8: Great Teachers We Still Remember Day  7:  Finding the missing sock   Day 6:  Children’s books that teach life-long lessons Day 5: The Perfect Photo at the Perfect Moment     Day 4:  Jumping in Puddles   Day 3: The Ride Downhill after the Struggle Uphill    Day 2: Old Photographs Day 1: The Martians on Sesame Street

365 Reasons to Smile – Day 36

When I was in second grade, my teacher told our class that everyone needed to bring in two pieces of bread for an art project.bread

The night before the project, my mother wrapped two slices of bread in wax paper, and I carried the slices to school in anticipation of the project.

When art time arrived, my classmates and I carefully followed Mrs. Roth’s instructions. But when everyone else miraculously made bread play dough, I simply made a mess.

wonderberadThe teacher hadn’t told us to bring store-bought bread, something my family never had. My mom took pride in baking all of our bread from scratch.

And rightly so. Her bread was wonderful. It just wasn’t soft and sticky. Instead it crumbled.

Apparently you need sticky bread to make bread play dough. I think Mrs. Roth felt sorry for me, and initially I felt sorry for myself as well as embarrassed that once again my family had to be different from everyone else’s.

But after a few days, I discovered my debacle during art class made a really good story.

And over the years, I’ve found that being different is much more interesting than being like everyone else and that my greatest failures often become my greatest stories.

And that always wakes me smile.

Day 36: Challenging Experiences that Make Great Stories

Day 35: You Can’t Always Get What You Want

Day 34:  Accepting the Fog    Day 33: I See the Moon

Day 32: The Stonehenge Scene from This is Spinal Tap

Day 31: Perspective

Day 30:  Unlikely Friendships  Day 29: Good Samaritans

Day 28:  Am I a Man or Am I a Muppet?    Day 27: Shadows

Day 26: Bike Riding on Country Roads

Day 25: When Harry Met Sally

Day 24:  Hibiscus   Day 23: The Ice Cream Truck

Day 22:  The Wonderful World of Disney   Day 21: Puppy love

Day 20 Personal Theme Songs     Day 19:  Summer Clouds

Day 18: Bartholomew Cubbin’s Victory Day 17:  A Royal Birth        Day 16:  Creative Kids Day 15: The Scent of Honeysuckle   Day 14: Clip of Kevin Kline Exploring His Masculinity Day 13: Random Text Messages from My Daughter     Day 12:  Round Bales of Hay Day 11:  Water Fountains for Dogs    Day 10: The Rainier Beer Motorcycle Commercial Day 9: Four-Leaf Clovers  Day 8: Great Teachers We Still Remember Day  7:  Finding the missing sock   Day 6:  Children’s books that teach life-long lessons Day 5: The Perfect Photo at the Perfect Moment     Day 4:  Jumping in Puddles   Day 3: The Ride Downhill after the Struggle Uphill    Day 2: Old Photographs Day 1: The Martians on Sesame Street

365 Reasons to Smile – Day 13

text messageI am so fortunate to have the gift of my daughter. She is smart and energetic and enthusiastic and expressive.

Especially expressive.

Like her mother, she shares exactly what’s on her mind.

At almost 12, her topics of discussion range from the characters in the latest book she is reading to her dislike of the dinner menu.

When I’m not with her, she uses text messages to share her opinions. I feel fortunate that she still wants to let me into her psyche, and that always makes me smile.

Day 13:  Random Text Messages From My Daughter

Day 12:  Round Bales of Hay

Day 11:  Water Fountains for Dogs

Day 10: The Rainier Beer Motorcycle Commercial

Day 9: Four-Leaf Clovers

Day 8: Great Teachers We Still Remember

Day  7:  Finding the missing sock

Day 6:  Children’s books that teach life-long lessons

Day 5: The Perfect Photo at the Perfect Moment

Day 4:  Jumping in Puddles

Day 3: The Ride Downhill after the Struggle Uphill

Day 2: Old Photographs

Day 1: The Martians on Sesame Street

There’s a Reason This Mom’s Brain is a Hot Mess

There’s no doubt I love my children.

But at times, when I’m completely honest with myself, I wonder what the heck I was thinking when I decided to become a mom.

It’s not because I regret having children. Not for a minute.

And it’s not because I think my life would be more interesting or exciting if motherhood didn’t require I put their needs above mine.  Being a parent puts a whole new spin on interesting or exciting.

And it’s certainly not out of guilt that as a girl, teenager and even as a young woman, being a mom wasn’t on my list of life goals. Having children helped me recognize what’s really important in life.

It’s because there are times when I think my kids could have done better with another mother – a  mom who isn’t as emotional or head strong  or outspoken as the one they got. A mom who never  purposefully ignores parenting magazines, workshops or other sources of standard parenting advice. A mom who always enjoys her children’s activities instead of attending out of a sense of obligation.

And just when I’ve convinced myself that my kids would be better off  with any mom but me,  I come face to face with parents who don’t understand what an  incredible gift – and responsibility –being a parent is. I witness moms behaving as though they are still adolescents with all the same drama and self-absorption. I have to listen to parents who always blame someone else when their child behaves poorly, gets a bad grade or is fighting with other children.  Worst of all, I  know of parents who put their children’s welfare and safety in jeopardy.

I may be imperfect, but those situations make me feel better about my own parenting skills. At least for a little while… until my kids do or say something embarrassing or completely inappropriate. Then I’m back to thinking that if they had a different mother, their behavior would be stellar.

Such thoughts bounce around in my brain on a daily basis… sometimes at such incredible speed that I fear an impending brain explosion.

The requirements of my profession haven’t helped.

Because I have a social work license, I’m required to take continuing education. Usually, I seek work-related education. Because I recently changed jobs, I’ve been seeking education that is more closely aligned with parenting issues, which I usually avoid.

I’m not sure the plan has worked for me.

In a workshop on bullying, the presenter disparaged parents who tell their daughters that, when a boy teases her, he actually likes her.  According to the presenter, that’s putting her on the path to domestic violence. Having said those exact words to my daughter,  I was convinced that, at worst, I was creating a victim.  At a minimum, I was teaching her that abusive behavior is a sign of affection.

I was back to being a horrible mom.

But then, a couple of weeks later I attended a workshop on child abuse. The workshop emphasized the need for children to feel comfortable questioning and saying no to adults. Now that is something my children have NO problem doing. Could it actually be good that my children are following in their mother’s footsteps by requiring more than just a command as a reason to follow orders?

My internal confusion isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it does highlight the reason I’ve avoided reading all those articles about parenting. Once  my children started developing their unique personalities, I had to treat them uniquely. And no expert could tell me how to do that.

So while no parenting magazine will ever put me on its cover, that’s not important to me.

What is important is that someday in the distance future, when I’m not the complete embarrassment or the clueless person that my children currently think I am, I will be featured in their life scrapbook .

I don’t even expect to make the cover, but I do want to be featured.

I’m pretty sure I can fill that role quite well… a long as my brain doesn’t explode in the meantime.