It all started a whole bunch of long times ago in the vow I made to myself.
[MY KIDS WOULD BE WELL-BEHAVED]
And by well-behaved, I meant sitting still with a smile on their face in church and school, obeying my every command the first time, keeping their rooms clean [and the bathroom too] and getting high marks at school and always always always doing their best no matter what they were doing [on the field, their chores, practicing their instrument].
There would be none of this nonsense like talking back to me, rolling their eyes behind their teachers' backs, getting speeding tickets, sneaking around, and God-forbid, never any drugs or alcohol or sex or smoking or any of those super scary and awful things that could have life-long, damaging effects - or so I was told and believed.
But then, of course, my vow was tested at every turn.
Starting with my little ones throwing temper tantrums in grocery stores, then my middle ones lighting fires in our garage with Bic lighters and gasoline in water guns, and my bigs actually doing many of those God-forbid things.
I found out I was raising actual people who had never made that vow and didn't care if it was broken every which way.
They were curious and testing boundaries and trying on "hats" to see which ones fit and figuring out their own paths the way I had and my parents had (and all the generations that came before them), with all the foibles and triumphs and struggles and successes that come from being a real live actual human being.
At first, I fought it with all my might.
I vowed to keep the vow I made.
So I clamped down, trying to control every mood and behavior, especially the God-forbid ones.
But as you can guess, my kids still kept being actual people [imagine that].
And $*@T kept hitting the fan.
Over and over again.
One had debilitating anxiety and OCD.
Another had off-the-charts ADHD.
Still another flew under the radar, all the while doing whatever the heck he wanted to do, while visibly complying.
And lastly, one became an expert at sneaking around.
And that vow I kept trying to keep.
Nope. Not so much.
It shattered right in front of my very own mom eyes. And heart.
I thought I was a bad mom. That my kids were hopeless.
Until until until, I found out a little secret about parenting and parenthood and kids and moms and all of us people, old and young, ADHD and OCD, sneaky and outwardly compliant.
It was never my job to make sure my kids were well-behaved [or even me for that matter].
It is always my job to help them figure out who they really are and what they actually love.
To be themselves in a world that tells them to be everything but and to find out what makes their hearts sing, come alive and dance a little jig.
And that little secret helped me to breathe a big, long, deep mom sigh of relief.
No more unnecessary and impossible vow that choked the life out of all of us.
Yes, my kids still had ADHD and OCD.
They were still sneaky and outwardly compliant.
My heart still raced every time they did those God-forbid things [oh, and it still does].
But I got to see all the beauty of their humanity and their individuality and STILL DO.
The creative genius and fierce tenderness of one.
The ability to truly connect with everyone and anyone at anytime of another.
The undying curiosity and steady loyalty of yet another.
And the beautiful empathy, fiery independence of still another.
Here I sit, laying in my bed, typing on my keyboard and I know that you have so many things on your mom plate right now. So many kids who might be in the middle of the struggle of their lives. So much heartache and God-forbid things happening day after day.
It's a lot.
So I'm here to remind you that there is great hope.
That you will make it until tonight and then tomorrow and then the next day.
And that we are ALL allowed to be human, whatever that means, with all our very own fits and starts and scary and joy.
And our kids.
Here's to tossing all our vows out the window and watching them break into a million pieces. Here's to the freedom to be ourselves.