Thursday, April 24, 2014

Which One Are You

I recently completed ghostwriting a book on the dangers of being a 'toxic' parent; meaning a parent whose actions and attitudes bring as much or more harm to their child as good. The book was written from a practical and technical point of view--not my usual style, but hey, that's what they wanted so that's what I wrote. But in doing so, I really started thinking about the fact that there's a world of difference between being a parent and being a mom or dad.

Parenting is defined as the "process of promoting and supporting the physical, emotional, social, and intellectual development of a child from infancy to adulthood". Nothing warm and fuzzy about that, is there? And did you notice there was no mention or even insinuation of love or of being nurturing and sacrificial? How sad is that...for everyone involved!

But like I said, it made me ask myself which one I was when my children were growing up. Was I a parent or was I a mom?

A parent supplies their children with food, clothes and a place to live. A parent makes sure their child has the necessary school supplies. A parent drops their child off at church. A parent buys what they think their child will like for September, and then sighs with relief that the job is done. A parent asks "how was it" because they don't take the time to go to their child's games, programs or other events. A parent makes sure their child receives the medical care they need. A parent allows the obligatory dog or cat, but that's it! A parent's involvement in their child's school is usually nothing more than dutifully attending parent/teacher conferences (maybe). A parent says things like
  • Let me do it so it will be right.
  • I'll do it myself so I can get done quicker.
  • Getting a C in math isn't acceptable.
A parent feels they deserve their child's gratitude for 'all I do for you'. A parent loves their child but often makes direct or implied stipulations or conditions on that love. A parent misses out on the very best reasons for having children.

A mom or dad bakes cookies with their children and doesn't mind the peanut butter being smeared down the handle of the knife and packs their child's lunch for school because they don't like school food. A mom or dad feels their heart will break when they can't afford the shoes or jeans the rest of the kids are wearing and hope no one makes fun of them and that someday they will understand. A mom or dad's efforts go into making a house a home instead of being concerned about the square footage or the address. A mom or dad does without so their children can have new backpacks, "Hello Kitty" folders and money for sports fees. A mom or dad worships with their child; living the religious and moral beliefs they want their children to have. A mom or dad exchanges a doll three times in a month so Santa will leave the right one under the tree and hopes with all their heart that the gifts they give will put a smile on the face and heart of their child. A mom or dad rarely has to ask "how was it" because they were there to greet you at the finish line or broke their lawn chair bouncing up and down with excitement at the game. A mom or dad goes without sleep for days on end and lets the cares of the world care for themselves to see their child through an illness. A mom or dad digs out empty jars to house tadpoles and lightening bugs and doesn't mind that sometimes the house feels more like the zoo for wayward mice, frogs and salamanders. A mom or dad attends school events, volunteers at their child's school and checks to see if homework is done. A mom or dad says things like
  • Help me do this so you'll know how.
  • You dust the chairs while I do the picture frames.
  • I know math is hard for you, so as long as you do your best, that's all that matters.
A mom or dad sees their children as blessings and gifts from God. A mom or dad loves unconditionally with that 'just because' kind of love even if it's not easy or not returned. A mom or dad feels unspeakable joy and pain in raising their children and wouldn't have it any other way.

I'd like to believe I was (and still am) a mom and not just a parent. What about you?


Momma D