Letting go of "normal"

For as long as I can remember, I felt like I was the odd ball out. My family consisted of one parent, unmarried even. At a very young age, I knew our house was different than most. And as children often do, I concocted the perfect happy "normal" family in my head, a family diametrically opposed to the one I was in.

It's not unusual that children look at the world through rose-colored glasses. It's in their nature to believe they have more control and effect on the world around them than they do and to overgeneralize. They see the cup half-full almost exclusively. They believe that although something may be wrong with the picture right now, perfection is still out there, no matter how elusive and that drives them to move beyond the terror they experience right now.

I know all of this because I was that child.

But as I grew up, got married and had children of my own, some part of me was stuck in the childish reasoning. I still desired and sought after the "normal" perfect family of my childhood fantasies. No matter how hard I tried, I could not create that.

I was ill-equipped to be the mother I wanted to be. I learned how to parent from a broken mother. Although her issues were not necessarily my own, I repeated them because I knew no other way.

It wasn't that wanting to be a better mother was a bad thing, or even wrong. Not at all! But my quest to be the perfect normal parent was fruitless.

I have never possessed the ability to be perfect; I am human, after all. And normal? Ask 1000 people to define a normal mother and you'll likely get 1000 different responses. Normal is changing, relative, and elusive. Seeking to become "normal" is a daunting, unattainable task.

But becoming a healthy, nurturing mother? That is a task that can be achieved. Once I let go of the desire to be a fantasy person who doesn't exist. Each day, I strive to be the kind of mom that I wanted. It's a hard task but it's worth it. My children, as I did, deserve that.

The first step in becoming a healthy, nurturing parent is to allow myself to make mistakes. And then forgiving myself. And, it turns out, my children are far better at forgiving me than I am. Such a blessing! After being grouchy with my teenage daughter for something completely unrelated to her, I apologized and asked her to forgive me. I told her that I was wrong to take my bad attitude out on her; she had done nothing to deserve or earn that attitude.

And her response? "Of course! I'll always forgive you!"

Part of being a healthy, nurturing mother is admitting I'm not perfect, normal is a myth, mistakes happen, and forgiveness is the key. And really, that is what recovery is all about too.

Father, thank you for giving me such awesome, loving, forgiving children who teach me how to be a healthy mother. Continue to change me so that I can give them the healthiest upbringing possible. Help me remain humble enough to admit my faults, because I know that my children will learn what they see me do. In Jesus' name, Amen.

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