One of my children tells me, repeatedly, and with a certain tone of disapproval, that I take everything too seriously. Of course, I go on to prove the theory within seconds by getting upset each time it’s said (I need to work on my poker face apparently).
This is said when I won’t allow something that everyone else’s parents on the planet supposedly allow. Or when I dare to ask a semi-probing question about feelings. Or when I point out a not-so-great grade. Or when I mention the importance of preparing for college. Or when I don’t laugh at a hurtful joke. Or when I gasp at music lyrics. Or, you know, when I breathe.
For some reason, the last time this was said to me, I got more defensive than usual and I spent about an hour ruminating on it while we were in the car together. I didn’t say anything out loud, but I debated. So instead of saying what I wanted to say in the heat of the moment, I’m saying it here.
Dear child of mine,
I have a feeling you don’t care the reason behind me taking things so seriously, you probably just want me to stop. Odds are against that. So, in case you’re ever discussing your mother issues with your future wife or future therapist and she asks, ‘Why do you think your mother acted that way?' you can say you don’t know but that this is what your mother told you to say…
I take everything so seriously when it comes to you for three very different but equally important reasons.
First, parenting is serious. You won’t get this until you’re a parent. But one day you will (hopefully). The stakes are high. Your heart is up for grabs. And I believe that God chose me for you to help you get through your childhood and to help you get ready for your adulthood. I’ve messed up a lot. And I’m looking down the barrel of only a couple more years with you under my roof. It’s crunch time. There’s so much more for you to learn. And God is going to hold me accountable for how I raised you. So that’s the first reason I take parenting so seriously.
But secondly, somebody has to. God created families to come with two parents. And for years and years before your dad and I divorced, I think I knew deep down that I was going to have to be the mother and the father. The other role has been abdicated. If you don’t know what abdicated means, you can look it up. Kidding. It basically means when someone is given a role but they don’t step up to the plate to fulfill it, they just walk away from doing what they are responsible for, what they are supposed to be doing. When things are working right, moms and dads work in partnership, each switching back and forth between good cop and bad cop, between fun parent and work parent, between rational and crazy even. But some sad, hard things have happened – and you know most of them – and that is not the case in our family. I get to be good cop. I have to be bad cop. I get to be fun parent. I have to be work parent. I get to be rational parent. I totally am crazy parent. I have to be both; I have to do it all. Pretty much all day every day. So that’s the second reason I seem to take everything so seriously; because someone has to.
And the last reason, because I love you. And I want the best for you. And I want you to know what it’s like to walk with God, and make wise choices on your own even in tough situations, and have solid, healthy relationships. I want things for you that you’re not seeing in your life being modeled for you. So, I might be a little more rigid than you’d like. And I’m sure you’ll need some therapy. And I’m sure it drives you crazy. But it’s only because I love you. It’s always only been because I love you.
(c) Elisabeth K. Corcoran, 2013
Elisabeth is mom to Sara (16-1/2) and Jack (15). She loves spending time with her kids, her friends, reading and writing. She is the author of At the Corner of Broken & Love; One Girl, Third World; He Is Just That Into You; In Search of Calm: Renewal for a Mother’s Heart; and Calm in My Chaos: Encouragement for a Mom’s Weary Soul. All these books can be purchased on Amazon.com. Her upcoming book, Unraveling, is releasing with Abingdon Press in October 2013.
If you are in a difficult marriage or find yourself going through a difficult divorce, I have created two private groups on Facebook that I would like to invite you to. Simply email me at email@example.com for more information.