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.
I’m always really thankful that because I had a stepdaughter I didn’t ever think that having a baby would have made anything better in my extremely dysfunctional and really hard marriage. I would have likely felt the exact same way, because I already felt that to an extent with my stepdaughter, that you did.
It’s been interesting that I’m more able now than ever before to see that for the most part (there are some cases where there is true need for intervention) that most parents are doing the best they can with where they are.
It’s been a year and 7 months since I left and 5 months since my divorce finalized and the perspectives I have from this side of it and where I am now I am WAY LESS judgmental and able to accept people where they are than I’ve ever been before! I am so thankful!
As I read your blog today, the truth of God’s Word came to me of John 7:24 “Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment.” I believe we can’t make a right judgment unless we have all the facts…called discernment….
As we discern, may we extend His Mercy, Compassion and Love, as believers in Christ…
Thank you for always sharing your honest feelings….
So true!!!! There are so many invisible situations that anyone outside doesn’t get, even some “inside” don’t get without extra perspective. Thanks for sharing that because it clarified something for me about the why I parent how I do. Love you Elizabeth!
I spent the first 10 years of my married life as a mother of two and wife of a raging alcoholic. I remember those situations you speak of-my becoming the parent to my spouse. I spent the 13 following years of my marriage as the parent of 4 children and the wife of a recovering alcoholic. In all 23 of those years I was a single parent in a two parent household. And even though I had such little support from my spouse in all those years, it was still heartbreaking to the children and I when my ex chose to discard us like used tissues after all the years we’d supported him (recovery & starting a business). I still to this day mark up the family calendar with everyone’s events so we’re on the same page. I make sure my teens & young 20 something adult children know the who, what, where, when, why & how of any situation they need info on. Do I despise not knowing what goes on while my terms are with their father-YES 100% YES!!!! It drives me crazy, but then again it’s not my circus at my ex’s residence. My circus revolves around my home & what my teens are involved in (school, sports, friends, clubs, etc). I parent my teens using a “lunge line” approach. They’ve got freedom, but when they need to be reined in it’s a simple thing to accomplish.