About two years ago I attended a weekend seminar in Calgary Alberta called The Power of Focus for Women. It was a weekend of deep introspection, learning and growth. The program was designed to deliberately make participants feel uneasy about a few things, then gave ways to work through them to find healing. I remember being aware of my uneasiness with my role as a mother. I found myself questioning the decisions I had made and wondering if I had let my children down, particularly because I chose to continue with my career after they were born.
During my plane ride home from the seminar, I wrote each of my kids a letter asking them to forgive me for any way I may have short-changed them and I asked how I could improve at my important job as their mom. My words expressed hope that I had done enough to help them be kind, independent and successful people. Just putting those words on paper seemed to take a huge burden off of my heart.
After I distributed my letters to them, their responses were surprisingly casual and quiet. Mandy actually told me that she liked attending day care and that she felt that she had become stronger and more independent than most of her peers because of it. Dan responded quietly by saying that there was no need to apologize. Life was good.
Now two years later I look upon my son and daughter and see so many signs that my role as a parent resulted in success. My son has completed his first year of college, has good grades, a flawless driving record, a good job and meaningful friendships. My daughter just started her first job, passed her driving test, keeps her grades up and excels in her social connections. They may not be honor students, but they are managing life in the real world admirably. Most importantly, they are good people with values that reflect what I hoped to pass on – health, honesty, compassion, humor, relationships, family and joy.
I have heard it said that the anxiety from being a mother never ever goes away. My kids will always be my babies. I will worry when they are late or if I don’t hear from them when I expect to. Being a mother involves love, trust and letting go — yet we continue to hold on to them tightly.
I remember how my anxiety would melt away on those days, so long ago, when they snuggled on my lap. Now my comfort comes from watching them take flight with life and responsibility. The nest may be empty soon, but the bonds will remain strong.