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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

What if...

Soon after I had my first child someone gave me some advice. The wise person likened raising a child to filling a pot. The pot is given to you empty, and your job as a parent is to pour love and wisdom and courage and kindness into that pot until it's full.

At the time I found that rather poetic.

Lately, I find it frightening. I have a big heart and a strong mind. If anyone has the abundance with which to fill the proverbial pot, it's me. But...

What if the pot has a teeny, tiny hole at the bottom?

What if the gifts I pour in are slowly escaping?

What if, like the eroding force of water, the escaping gifts weaken the fiber of the pot and the hole becomes larger?

What if the extra love I pour in isn't enough to compensate for the leak?

What if I am not enough?
* * *
Note: This is not a plea for validation of my parenting. While far from perfect, I rest comfortably knowing I've done the best I could possibly do. At least most days. But lately there have been some problems in my world that have caused me to question whether the sheer force of my love for my children is enough for them to feel validated. And complete. And worthy.
For the first time I can truly see that, as freely and eagerly as I pour my love into the pot,
this particular pot may never be full.

58 comments:

passions and soapboxes said...

We all have these question. I still do even though they are grown. The truth is you do the best that you can and that will have to be enough because you can't do more than your best. We tell our kids this all the time so maybe we should listen to our own advice. Besides I think you earned extra Mom points with the coconut. :D

Yaya said...

(((Hugs)))
Just keep pouring. It will be enough in the end.

Tammy Howard said...

Oh, it's frustrating, isn't it... My eldest needs so much more than she gets from me - and I give her my everything. I hope things work out for you and yours...

ScoMan said...

Being a parent must be tough, because theres no blueprint for perfect parenting. Theres little constructive feedback from the kids, especially as they enter teenage years.

As with everything in life if you can look yourself in the mirror and know you did your best, then nobody can ask for anything more.

LadyFi said...

All we can do is keep on pouring...

The Good Cook said...

Oh Kathy B:

That is the irony and heartbreak of parenthood. You raise them up - pour everything into them and then you have to let them go with a wing and a prayer.. wondering, wondering, if it was enough. If any of it sank in.

And you know what? IT DOES! IT DID. Sometimes you just need to light a fire under that pot as a reminder of all the good stuff in there.

Hang in.

~Laura said...

There is nothing that I dislike more than when I don't feel adequate enough as a parent. And I hate to see someone like you feel that way. Just keep giving it all each and every day. That's all you can do. And while it may not seem like enough now, today, it will be in the end. All you can do is give what you have to give. You're one of the good ones, KathyB!, don't forget it!

PS-So glad you are back!!

Stacy (the Random Cool Chick) said...

You are definitely enough. While it may seem a particular pot may never be full, it is and will be. You may not see it now, but you will. Just keep pouring. :)

((HUGZ!))

Lindy said...

..."the sheer force of my love for my children is enough for them to feel validated."

That resonated with me BIG time.

I need to know I'm doing good. I need to know that I'm not screwing up their lives. I need to know that the stuff I'm pouring in, isn't evaporating.

This is a wonderfully honest and reflective post. Thank you.

Mayhem and Moxie said...

It is good to see you in the blogosphere again, my friend. I am guessing this must mean that your connection to the outside world has been restored. I owe you a phone call and will definitely follow-up again soon!

As for this post, I think every mother experiences what you are. But, like your other comments here, you do just keep pouring...because that is exactly what you do best as a mom.

-Francesca

Court said...

Not to get all preachy but I think we never are enough and most people have a God-sized hole that needs to be plugged by him. But I agree with the idea, they are little sponges and it's our job to soak them in love, as much and as best as we can.

TKW said...

I do know how you feel. Sometimes my kids will act like little barbarians and I think, "Didn't they learn anything? Where did I go SO wrong that they think it's okay to act like this?"

And as a kid who grew up with so much love, and still hated herself and doubted herself, I ought to understand...but this whole process of becoming a "decent human being" is obviously lifelong, because I'm still learning.

Hugs, kisses, and encouragement!

for a different kind of girl said...

All I can say is, after an experience involving my oldest son last week, what you describe here, the questioning of whether the sheer force of your love for your children is enough, I completely understand. We crossed the hurdle the event, but it left me wondering how impactful my love and teaching has been, but I guess we soldier on and do the best we can.

ymK said...

'Just keep pouring, just keep pouring, what do we do, we pourrr!' Sing this like Dori's 'Just keep swimming :)

I hope things get better KathyB. No one said being a parent would be easy.

Cairo Typ0 said...

I think asking these questions makes you a better parent. If you pour those ingredients with love then it'll work out. I may be a naive optimist but i sincerely believe that. **hugs**

The Crazy Suburban Mom said...

I think the thing that people forget is the kids come with their own gifts as well...and they give more sometimes than they get. And that maybe the pot filling has more to do with their contributions than ours in the end.

I truly feel my sons given me more, than I him

Grant said...

Perhaps you misunderstood. The proper phrase should be "Being a parent will make you want to smoke a lot of pot. Go to it, and good luck."

JC said...

I would say that my daughter's pot has several holes at the bottom and sides. Probably cracked too.

Not worth throwing away. Always enjoy seeing it.

For not my pot is out on the porch gathering her own moss. Maybe in the future, I will repaint it and bring it inside but for now I'll just watch from afar.

It has to learn to survive the elements on it's own.

Nancy@ifevolutionworks.com said...

If the pot were always full, what would there be to strive for? It's okay that it leaks. I'm sure you'll replace those leaks with great stuff and then some!

Semi-Slacker Mom said...

I ask myself that everyday. Especially when I get angry & lose my cool with them. I know you are an awesome mom & really love your children. There are so many kids that aren't that lucky.

Our children will turn out fine. Even if they do need a little therapy along the way! :)

Jane! said...

Remember that you aren't the only one filling that pot and while it might not be the brew you expected, it will surely be special.

Tsquared417 said...

I think the same thing....quite often...

Susie said...

I think the key is to give them a shovel so they can fill their own pot. In other words, as parents, it is our job to give our children the tools to deal with whatever life brings their way.

Jen said...

This is very interesting to think about. I often wonder the same thing.

Kim said...

Yep, it's tough. The fact that you're close enough to your children to even recognize what you wrote about in your post is a good sign, though.

I'm just starting to experience "mean girls" through my 11-year-old's relationships with a couple kids on her soccer team. My daughter is a confident, loving kid with good self-esteem, but the crap that others say still hurts her feelings and makes her wonder if it was something she did.

Chris Mancini said...

Yep, every parent has the same pot to deal with it. No one every complains about a pot being too full.

WhisperingWriter said...

I think the same question.

But then I'm all, "If I'm not good enough, there is always therapy.."

I'm kidding.

Pam said...

I'm sorry you are struggling with this, but know that you are not alone. I, too, have a pot than will probably never be able to be filled completely. All we can do is continue to pour as much love, encouragement, and kindness into the pot and love unconditionally. {{hugs}}

K said...

I think that most kids (especially girls) go through rough patches while growing up. It doesn't mean that they won't grow up to be happy, healthy validated adults.

Some pots just take longer to fill than others. (At least that's my theory, and I pray it's true.)

the ungourmet said...

Wow! This has me all stressed out now! ;D

I have done my share of pondering parenthood as well but haven't always found the words to express my feelings. Well said Kathy B.

Tomorrow is another day. Hope things are better.

Gibby said...

I totally hear you. Sometimes the stress of this weighs down on my shoulders so hard that I feel like I can't bear it. But as one of your other commenters said, I think we must remember that we don't have to be the only ones to fill the pot. There are so many caring and loving people around that can help fill it when we just have nothing left for the day. This is what keeps me going. That and the hope that I will get to that day when I say...ah, yes, she gets it.

Unknown Mami said...

if, if, if... if my aunt had balls she'd be my uncle. There is no point in worrying about the if's.

Nana said...

Forget about filling the pot.I think as parents we should just smoke pot. Then we would at least feel better about ourselves or not care. I know that was lame.

thedomesticfringe said...

Hmmmm....kids are hard work. As a teenager, I mistakenly thought raising children was easy. I could never have been more wrong.

-FringeGirl

blueviolet said...

Yes, some of this is beyond our control and it breaks our hearts.

Suzy said...

I'll quote my third shrink. I asked her if the 'hole' would ever be filled and she replied "no." She said the best you can do is control it but there's no way to fix it.

I was so depressed after that but I now know she was right.

Laoch of Chicago said...

Very fine post

Pop and Ice said...

You can never provide everything your child will need - you can only hope to have the best team assembled and that the team, collectively, will help keep your child whole. I wish that for you. It certainly has helped my family.

Lisa @ Boondock Ramblings said...

They aren't escaping. The love is there..in the pot. If it seems like it isn't right now, or even in years to come, don't panic. You'll see before too long..it's all still in there.

Hit 40 said...

Great post!! I try very hard as a mom trying to do and to give all the love that I can without spoiling them.

Your daughters know how much you love them. You go on great adventures like girl scout camp in canoes that I would never do!! Hotels for me!!

Southern Belle Mama said...

I think all mothers have this feeling (I know I have and my tot is only 3), but we just have to trust that our coninued love and support will sustain them and accept that they are individuals who live by free will and while we can guide them, we have to trust them to go in the right direction.

ZenMom said...

What a wise friend you have. I too have been in a place where I question whether my love is enough. So many outside forces hit against our beautiful pots.

You are lucky that you know you are doing your best. I need to remind myself of this all the time.

Thanks for the post. It helped today.

booshy said...

Funny as it sounds, this actually gives me insight on what to expect with kids...

Alicia @ boylerpf said...

We have to trust that what we are giving in the end will be enough. How do we know if it is? It's a mystery!
I have a daughter that was totally defiant in every way imaginable. I wondered how I could have raised her older brother and sister without having the leaky pot as I was having with this one. 10 years later(yes, it took that long), she thanks me every day for staying with her defiant self and giving her the guidance she needed to be a self sustaining adult. So from experience..hang in there and keep pouring!

Amreen said...

i think about this too, like what if the environmental influences and friends' influences negate the positive energy my kids get at home. at the end of the day, however, your love and guidance will triumph. it may take a while, but in my experience those values that were ingratiated in me during childhood, are what sustain and guide me now. hope its the same for our kids.

Mary K Brennan said...

We all question ourselves from time to time. But let me point out out something so simple that you may have missed, but your blogger friends have definitely noticed.
All those beautiful pictures you share with us depict happiness. Your children are always smiling. They are definitely not the faces of children who have holes in their pots.
Chin up Kathy. You're doing a great job.

i am the diva said...

I think that's a common fear. As my mom said to me one day: "Y'know, i used to think that nothing i did or said was sticking with you, but then you became an adult. One i could be proud of" so, just you wait!

Zeemaid said...

I think we all doubt ourselves and not just ourselves but sometimes we doubt our children's character... what if they just don't want to receive.... ;)

evenshine said...

Ok. First, let me say that due to my horrendous Bloglines account, I have missed the past several weeks of KB posts! Do, DO forgive me.

Secondly, no. YOU are not enough to cure all evils and right all wrongs and make them feel complete and validated. No one can do that for them. But you are the right mother for them. You will be the one that gives them the wings and the roots to find their worth, and their validation, and, yes, their boxing gloves at times.

YOU are the right mother for them. What you have inside you is what you were meant to have to then equip them for their own inside life.

Things will happen, and often do, as Seuss says. Things you can't change and can't control. But your childrens' strength will come from that pot full o'love you keep pouring in.

Missed you! Blessings to you and yours.

M-Cat said...

I have a child, whose pot I have come to the sad realization, cannot be filled by me. He will need to find a way to patch his hole and fill it up himself for a little while before others can begin to add to it.

You do all you can, but ultimately they are their own persons with their own free agency.

Hard to take sometimes. Many nights with heavy heart and lots of tears.

Hang in there.....

faemom said...

I have the same fear, which is why I turn to you, which isn't helping today. So I guess we'll keep pouring and hope you ever helps us add is adding well too.

Grand Pooba said...

We do the best we can, it's all we can do.

♥ Braja said...

I would say, Kathy, that materially speaking, no one is able to give anything to their child that will work for them in the future....seriously. I know that sounds silly, but remove the obvious things a parent gives, like food and shelter and education. Beyond that, what can one give a child that makes the parent feel that everything is not slowly dripping out the bottom? It is said in the Vedic scriptures and philosophies that the most important thing a parent can give their child is spiritual knowledge; the understanding that they are not just a body, but a spirit soul. In fact it is said that this is the one and only duty of a parent, to impart spiritual knowledge to their child to help them understand the meaning of life and their role in this world.

I'd say that sounds pretty noble....not only that, it makes the parent feel satisfied that "I have done what I can---trials and tribulations may visit this child, but I pray I've educated them sufficiently in how to deal with those." How a child chooses to face such things of course depends on their training; giving them an education in the material and spiritual differences this world holds is the key to the chance that they will, ultimately, make the right choices in life....

♥ Braja said...

And ps: I'm sorry, but "letting your kids know how much you love them" is never, ever, ever going to be enough. It doesn't guarantee that your child will not face troubles---the point is, how will they deal with them?

And re Suzy's comment: I vehemently disagree with her 'therapist,' and would defeat that person in five minutes flat in a face to face discussion. I hate that kind of uninformed negative bullshit, and it has no place....which can often be said for 'therapists' themselves....

deanflagel said...

whew - been a while since I checked in and what a stressful moment to do so. There's a great book by a colleague of mine, who happens to be far smarter than I could ever hope to be (and the blog's author can attest that I say that having a fairly enormous ego) called Anxious Parents; A History of Parenting in America (Peter Stearns is the author). Wonderful book for getting an idea about why were so stressed.
not that it fixes the problem.
Of course we love our kids and try to do all the right things. Am I giving them too much - raising the next Veruca Salt (the character, not the band), or not giving enough and somehow creating damaging a fragile sense of self. AUGH.
You have always had it right, and know it's the only real answer - as parents we'll do the best we can each day, make our choices starting from a point of love and commitment to their well being - and hope and hope and hope...
and, of course, laughter helps.

Bill and Lorie Shewbridge said...

I've had those exact same feelings!
You can only do so much, by letting them know we love and support them, by giving them the tools to make the right decisions in life, to do the honorable thing toward both themselves and others, and let them know that we will be there whether they succeed or fail at whatever they do.
You seem to be doing that in everything you are doing... they will be fine! :-)

jenie said...

yeah, that's one of the biggest responsibilities here on earth, being a mom!

if you're feeling that, i am feeling it all the more being a single mom.

glad to have come across you on MBN. maybe u can come visit my blogs too

life round me N you
earthy me
at-a-blink
heartQUAKES

The Rambler said...

Man....(or I should say Wo-man) I totally related to this post on so many different levels.

Life, work, friends...family.

But maybe you have to think that what is falling out is the things that aren't necessary anymore and to make room for the new "love" for the current moment. Our love is always changing and growing. :)

GREAT GREAT post!