Tuesday, July 1, 2014

My Mess Ups Make Me a Better Parent

Lucy turns one year old in just 30 days. Of course that sent my mind down the path of imagination. I imagine her as a sweet little girl going off to her first day of school, excitement bright in her eyes. I imagine her making the huge step from elementary school to middle school, and then I start freaking out. I imagine her as a teenager.

Of course the old joke among parents is always "just wait until they are teenagers!" I really can't wrap my head around being the mom of two toddlers much less two teenagers (HELP) but then I start thinking about my teen years. Maybe it is Lucy's approaching birthday that has me thinking about my teen years and growing up, maybe it's the "2000's Hit Pop songs" radio station I've been listening to but I have been thinking about my life as a teen often. Then I get scared.

I worry. I'm a parent. Duh.

I worry about the numerous times I messed up and will mess up. Without delving into deep detail because you know...family reads this. I messed up a lot as a teen. Those years between ages 12 and 19 were filled with not only good choices but unfortunately they included some really bad ones too. Of course I never ended up in trouble with the law but I still made choices I regret. I made choices that forever altered my teenage universe. Even as an adult I have messed up. I've made choices that strained relationships, and tested my marriage.

Sometimes I wish I could go back and undo the bad choices. Travel back in time and change my fate. I wonder how my life would look then. I realized something though. Those times I messed up taught me lessons. I am stubborn (*gasp* NO?!) and sometimes I just have to learn the hard way. It is those mess ups which have made me a better parent.

I credit my not being a bum at the moment to two things:
1. My parents who actually cared enough to let me learn by making mistakes, taught me everything they know and guided me towards the right path.They kept an eye on me but let me venture out on my own to learn the only way I can. They trusted me (Lord only knows why) to heed their words of wisdom. They gave me support...even when I messed up. I strive to be as valuable to my kids as they were to me. Even if I didn't see the value then...I do now.
2. My then boyfriend, now husband. I've said it before but it is worth saying again. I firmly, 100%, believe God gave me the gift of young love to help me keep myself on the right path. Having a boyfriend who was not caught up in the drama of school, stayed away from the drug or party world so many of my friends were in, and genuinely cared for me made a very big difference in my life. I pray my children find a mate so perfectly matched to them as I have found because seriously...he puts up with far more than he deserves sometimes.

My mess ups taught me that messing something up isn't the end of the world. They taught me there are consequences to all choices and it's worth thinking about them before you make a choice. My mess ups taught me responsibility in taking those consequences in stride. They have taught me to learn from the mistakes I've made.

So now when I start having a freak out about my own children entering that trial by fire period of life known as being a teenager, with raging hormones and confused personalities attempting to figure themselves out, I know it will be OK. I know my kids are not perfect. They will mess up. They will probably give me gray hair. They will resist my advice, and then thank me for it in 20 years. Still...they will be OK. They will learn the lessons I did, and I will support them, love them and help them find the right path. With any luck though, they will make just a few less mistakes than I did. I can hope, right?

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