Putting on the Big Girl Pants
Between midnight feedings and diaper changes, as a new parent I rarely thought about how difficult it would be down the road to answer those tough questions and facing challenging topics with your little one. I always anticipated with dread the teenage and now "tween" years with talks about sex, drugs, and bullying. You can't miss them when you watch the news or open a newspaper. From shows like "Teen Mom" to the infamous Pregnancy Pact, I knew one day I would have my hands full. I just always prayed that by then I would know the answers, as well as secretly hoped that my daughter would be a late bloomer like I was. At least that meant delaying some of the drama for a little while longer.
Recently, three people I knew experienced deaths of a loved one. One was a high school friend and neighbor who lost his father. One was a family friend who lost her husband at the tender age of 50. And the third was the death of my uncle. He was the oldest of the three men who left their wives, children and loved ones behind to go to a better place above. As I sat on the phone with my cousin as she talked about writing her father's eulogy and arranging the memorial services, she asked me some hard questions. What would I do if something happened to someone close to my kids? What would I tell them and when? Would I bring them to the funeral?
She then went on to explain her anguish in the fact that everyone she spoke to told her something different and she did not know what to do and who's advice to take. Then she asked me if I was in her shoes, what would I do? No fiber in my being could let me imagine one of my parents ever leaving, so I pictured someone else. A relative I cared about on my husband's side, but one that did not live as close and one in not as good of health. It was difficult and disturbing to do this, but it was clear as day.
This was easier for me to envision, in my totally fictitious world where there was no one in my immediate family gone. It was a macabre make-believe where I had to for just a moment put myself in her shoes as uncomfortable as they were. I knew what I would do and my suggestion, but what I didn't need to be was another person telling her what she should do. So I said what I meant from the heart. I told her that I loved her and I would support her decision either way. And I told her that I was sorry and that she was a good daughter and a great mom. Then I tried my best to cheer her up and lighten the mood. But overall, my main objective was to instill in her the belief that as her sons' mother, she knew what was best for her child. Mothers always do.
I sat down this evening bottled up about this and having conflicting feelings as well. Having a tough time or loss in your life as an adult can be hard enough, but having to explain and rationalize it to a child too young to fully understand is equally tragic as well. I have explained job loss and family disputes. It has been painfully real. Sometimes I wonder if I have made the right choices and second guess myself. Other days I pull out my hair and fret that I did not.
But underneath the uncertainty of motherhood, I will always have one thing for my children and that is love. If all your decisions and words are derived from that, you can't go wrong no matter what the challenging topic may be. You put on your big girl pants and you keep your chin up.
Jeanine Ludwikowski is a mom of two living in the Philly burbs. You can follow her on Twitter @MommyEntourage. This post is adopted from her blog Mommy Entourage.