I have been told that I have raised my children in a bubble.
That I have raised mini-versions of myself.
That I perhaps do too much for my children.
That I take everything too seriously as a mom.
So let me tell you why I have been such a controlling mother. Because I absolutely have been.
When my daughter was six-weeks old, in the dead of winter, someone came up to me at a family gathering and told me that I was going to have to be the one to drive us home. It was in that moment that I realized I did not have a parenting partner to help me protect the life of my daughter. It was in that moment that, against my will kicking and screaming, I realized the very heavy mantle of parenting fell completely on my shoulders. I was both terrified and devastated.
I had a choice in that moment and in many, many moments like that afterwards what to do with that burden. Shirk it and live in denial of what my life really was (in part, an absolute sham) or take it on believing completely that someone had to be in charge of raising the two gifts God had entrusted us with, even if it meant I basically did it alone.
Some might say that there had to have been a middle ground. But those people have not lived in the kind of marriage I lived in. Those people lived in regular marriages and were living somewhat emotionally- and relationally- and spiritually-healthy lives and they don’t get it. Those people were trying to raise their kids and protect them from the evil in the world. They didn’t have to worry about what I had to worry about: protecting my children from genetic predispositions and the constant loud conflict (albeit mostly on my part, ironically) and the evil in their own home. I was fighting a spiritual battle in my own home every single day.
There was no middle ground in my mind.
There was survival and pressing in and pulling them close and teaching them about right and wrong and doing everything I could to raise up my babies the best I could and, you know, keep them alive, or there was letting the pain of my life take over and take me down and take me out of the mothering game.
So, yes, I raised my children in a bubble longer than most parents do. But then again, they know more about addiction and abuse and recovery groups which may come in handy down the road.
And I may have unintentionally raised mini- co-dependents, but hopefully they are also emotionally-aware and depending-on-Jesus kind of people.
And I probably did do too much for my children as I took on the role of both parents, as I was the good cop and the bad cop, as we went through a horrible home-wrecking divorce during their middle-school years, as I felt the guilt of ruining their childhoods.
And I absolutely beyond a shadow of a doubt have taken mothering seriously, maybe too seriously (as I tend to take just about everything in my life a bit too seriously), but I’d rather that than be accused of the opposite, of nonchalance, or worse – actual emotional or physical harm.
So I have a request. Whether you’re a seasoned parent or not, may I ask that we all stop pointing fingers at how someone else is raising their kids, because we truly have no idea the burdens they are carrying and what is going on in their homes each and every day that is causing them to make the decisions they’re making?
Instead, let’s help each other. Let’s come alongside each other. Let’s support each other. Parenting is hard – regardless of the circumstances surrounding our families. We need each other’s kindness and grace, not each other’s judgment and harsh words about all we’re doing wrong that only makes matters worse and adds to our shame. And when you just don’t understand why someone is parenting the way they are, assume the best. And then pray for them.
If this resonated with you, Moving On as a Single Christian Mom may benefit you as well.