From a bright and sunny afternoon that feels like yesterday in my head, I recall a conversation with one of my nearest and dearest. As our children, seven total under the age of ten, run and play we discussed hypothetical futures. We discussed where our kids would be, what plans they may take part in, personal and family goals.
Looking back on the conversation that actually took place over 8 years ago, I can’t help but smile at the younger version of myself, so sure, so confident in what would be.
One assertion that came from my mouth that day was that if something ever happened to my (then) husband, I would not date or remarry. I remember the younger version of myself proclaiming that my kids would be all that I would need. I would focus on them completely, and not even think of dating, much less marriage, until long after they had all moved on.
Little did I know what the road ahead of me would look like.
For the most part, I am glad that I did not know. I am relieved I was not provided the opportunity to sabotage myself by attempting to avoid some temporary pain.
I remind myself of this conversation from time to time. Specifically when I come across the perfect specimen that is the Facebook Mom.
We all know her. She is full of comments, unsolicited advice, and “data” that she is compelled to share. Her newsfeed is typically full of statements of what she would “never” or “always” allow or permit her children to do. Most of the time, the Facebook Mom has particularly strong opinions about the teenage years, and how everyone else is doing it wrong. She is quick to point out what she would “allow” in her own home.
The comments are usually made with the confidence of a parent of pre-school to kindergarten aged children, who has yet to encounter parenting a teenager in 2018.
These are the moms who have never experienced puberty from the parent point of view but are certain you are doing it wrong.
If you are going through a divorce or life transition, these moms are certain to have opinions, never having gone through it themselves, on how you should be conducting yourself.
When I read these comments, I force myself to recall that long ago conversation next to the backyard pool. I remember the confidence that I had about what I would do in the case of a hypothetical divorce. I compare that false confidence with actual life events that occurred. I think of my youngest child still in fifth grade, and my amazing husband.
I clearly did not follow the plan of the younger version of myself.
I do not believe that they will follow every plan they are laying down.
I believe that with experience comes knowledge, and hopefully equal amounts of grace.
I also believe, more importantly, that we are way too hard on ourselves as parents, as moms. There is no one perfect answer, there is not one way. Each child is different, each family is different.
The hope is that as the younger versions of ourselves grow and experience life, we will acquire grace and understanding along the way.