There are so many things my children may never know about me.
To be honest, I’m OK with them never knowing what their mother may or may not have done in college or about that time I got caught sneaking out of my parents’ house.
I don’t need them to know that I was a mouthy, know-it-all teenager or that I once got in trouble in high school for making fun of a teacher.
I don’t plan on ever telling my kids that I have smoked a cigarette, I have had too much to drink too many times and I once ate an entire box of Girl Scout cookies in one sitting.
But, there are some things my children may never know that make me a little sad.
I often wonder if they will ever know just how much I love them. I could never comprehend a parent’s love for a child until I became a parent myself. If my kids never have kids, will they ever understand how my heart beats a little bit harder and stronger just for them? Will they ever realize that I gave up a career to be with them, and that I would do it all over again if given the chance?
I don’t know if my children will ever know that sometimes at night, I can’t fall asleep because I worry about them. It’s not because they are out late – my kids are 3 and 5. It’s because when I lie down for bed, all the “what ifs” pop into my head. What if they get sick? What if someone tries to hurt them? What if they get lost? What if they need me one day and I’m not there? What if, what if, what if … My children may not ever know that the what ifs crawl into my brain and make me want to crawl into their beds, just to be close to them and know that they are safe.
One of the biggest things that my children may never know is that every once in a while, I feel like I’m failing.
I have never heard my mother say she felt that way, though I’m positive she did. I know because I hear that sentiment from so many of my fellow mothers. We doubt ourselves, we question our choices. Maybe not all the time, but at least once, we have stopped and thought, “Am I doing this right?”
I had one of those moments just the other night. As the what ifs were swimming around my head, I realized that I have been yelling at my kids a lot lately. My patience has been so thin that it would crack with just one “Mommy!”
I lay there fretting over the doomsday events that could happen to my children and hit a double whammy because I have been just awful to them over the past week or so.
I shook my husband’s shoulders until he rolled over and groggily said, “Is it the kids?”
“Yes, but it’s not that they are awake. It’s that I’m a bad mother and they will never know how much I love them and if they get cancer or fall into a gorilla enclosure they will die only remembering me as the mother who yells.”
My kids may never know about that night. They may never know that I cried a lot over my shortcomings. They may never know that their dad had to talk me back into sanity, remind me that parenting is hard and that I just need to lead with patience. They may never know that I vowed that night to do less yelling and more hugging.
In the light of day, I told myself that it’s OK if they never know that story … as long as they know that their mother may be flawed, but she is working on it.