It’s Mother’s Day and so of course, I’m reflecting on what it means to be a mom. I sometimes hear moms talking about regrets they have – about what they would change if they had the chance to do so. I have even heard of moms talking about “fixing” the mistakes they made with their firstborn with subsequent children. I’m sure everyone can look back at their lives and think, knowing what I do now, I would have handled that differently but we have to be kind and gentle with ourselves. After all, no one’s perfect.
So here are 10 things I don’t regret having done with my child. Given the chance, I’d do every single one of them again:
- Rocking her to sleep – I rocked her to sleep nearly every night for much longer than most people thought I should. “You’re setting up a bad precedent. Now you’re going to need to do this forever.” I’m happy to report that at the ages of 55 and 27 respectively, I am no longer rocking my daughter to sleep. I miss it sometimes.
- Letting her sleep in my bed – See above for what others told me. When she needed to sleep in my bed, she slept in my bed. Whether it was because she was sick or she was scared or she just didn’t want to be alone, if she needed me, she got me. Again, I am happy to report that she now sleeps with her husband, not me.
- Saying I love you even in front of her friends – If it embarrassed her, she never said so. Even if she had, I still would have hugged and kissed her and told her I loved her. I still do. Onlookers be damned.
- Playing hooky together – Yep, I admit it. Once a school year, she was allowed to take a day off just because. I called in to work (don’t get all judgy on me – I booked and paid for my own substitute teacher and took it as a personal day. I didn’t pretend to be sick.) and we spent the day doing whatever she felt like doing. Often, if her birthday wasn’t on a weekend, it would be that day and we’d go somewhere special but sometimes, it was just any old day and we snuggled in bed, watched movies, and ate junk food together. It was divine!
- Eating ice cream or cake for breakfast – Or before dinner. Or whenever.
- Pajama days – We were not the family who woke up on weekend mornings, made our beds, got fully showered and dressed. We were often the ones who stayed in their pjs all day. Or all weekend. And we binge watched TV. And sometimes she’d say, uh are we ever going to eat a meal this weekend and like the good mother I am, I’d point to the kitchen and make her a list of things she could make for herself. Or more often, I’d sigh and say, fine, you place the order and we can get takeout delivered. And then we’d play “not it” for who would have to get presentable in order to answer the door. Since I was paying, that person was usually her. I miss those days. Now I have to get dressed and answer it myself.
- Being silly and having fun even to the point of perhaps walking the line to being inappropriate – There was this time at Canada’s Wonderland. Sam was a teenager at the time. We were going into a 3D Sponge Bob Squarepants movie (with the seats that move and all) not because we are Sponge Bob fans but because it was horribly hot and humid and it was the only air conditioned place we could go. While waiting in line, we got incredibly giggly and silly (I blame the heat and humidity) –in fact so giggly and silly that the parents around us were moving their small children away from us and staring. I don’t regret a second of it.
- Having inside jokes – I’m sorry dear son-in-law. We don’t mean to leave you out when one of these inside jokes pops up but honestly, if we try telling you about it, it loses something in the telling anyway. It’s definitely one of those “you had to be there” moments. The Sponge Bob Squarepants incident above is one of those occasions. I can’t see Patrick the Starfish without at least smiling, if not bursting out into laughter. We just had a lot of crazy moments where our “often very similar brains” would find humor where many others wouldn’t. We still do. Ask her about how much we laughed while getting soaked by a rainstorm at 5 am on the steps of the not yet open Metro station in Paris.
- I said yes a lot – “You’re spoiling her. Oh, your daughter is so spoiled. Wow, it must be nice to just snap your fingers and get whatever you want.” Ummm excuse me, she didn’t get everything she wanted. Just ask her and she’ll have two words for you. Disney World. You know what? I hate the word spoiled. Definition: spoil/verb; past tense: spoiled – diminish or destroy the value or quality of. I did not diminish my daughter’s value. On the contrary, I showed her just how valued she was by doing as much as I could to make her life a happy and fulfilled one. Oh and she never actually snapped her fingers and got anything from me. I may have been a somewhat indulgent parent but I still taught her respect and generosity and empathy and love.
- I have always loved her no matter what – Even when at 3 1/2 she told me I was the worst mommy in the world. Even when at 17 she told me she hated me. I always tried to let her be herself. And no matter what she does, where she goes, no matter who she is or who she becomes, the love will always be there. We may not agree on everything but we agree on this. We love each other. Forever.