By Melissa Ford
There's a saying about parenthood that I've always found rather humorous, "Life begins when the kids go away to college and the dog dies."
A few years back our son and daughter left home to study at their respective colleges and our healthy, spry pooch happily took over the house. Good news: We attended our son's graduation from college yesterday and we'll be at our daughter's commencement in December. Bad news: our dog is very sick.
Has life begun?
If one defines life as having a major, compelling purpose, then my life began in 1989 when we welcomed our first child, followed a year later with the birth of our second. Armed with a powerful sense of purpose - to be the most loving, caring, courageous mother I could be - I began motherhood, unaware of the challenges and incredible satisfaction it would bring. Twenty-plus years rushed by and in a blink of an eye, my life's purpose changed as our daughter moved to NYC for the summer and our son soon relocates out-of-state, starting his new career.
Moving through this transition, I wondered, how do I measure my success?
Was I success? What are the criteria for evaluating my efforts? Did I make the best choices? If I could have a "do-over," what would I change?
The measure of my success (or any parent's for that matter) cannot be based on my kids always liking me or approving of my decisions; they didn't. Nor can I critique my efforts based on my husband and I always being on the same page, we weren't. I certainly wasn't successful if you counted the number of neighborhood kids congregating at our home because I was the most amazing mom on the block; I wasn't. I failed; I made some great decisions; I persevered.
My success came as a result of my unwavering commitment to this extraordinary endeavor called motherhood.
Like so many other moms, who make the commitment to parent day-in and day-out, there were many times I didn't feel like it. I wasn't in the mood to break up squabbles, help with homework, wake up in the middle of the night or reinforce the same lessons over and over. Yet my commitment wasn't based on my being in the mood or feeling up to it; it was based on my resolve and dedication to do whatever it took to grow my kids into loving, kind, competent, happy adults.
This morning my husband woke me up with a sweet "Happy Mother's Day!" Then he added with a smile, "Let's celebrate you today; what a great job you did parenting our kids!"
Today I celebrate my commitment, and I'd like you to do the same!
Take time to acknowledge and honor YOU! Be in awe of your efforts; pat yourself on the back; then step back, admiring and celebrating your own impressive, enduring commitment to love and guide your children. . . no matter what it takes.
Wishing you a joyous Mother's Day!