On Motherhood and Leaving a Legacy for My Kids
3 years ago
Kristen Howerton, the blogger behind Rage Against the Minivan, writes about why Mother’s Day is a complicated holiday for her (and the type of legacy she hopes to leave for her own children). Join the conversation by honoring your own mom's legacy on our tribute wall.
Mother’s Day is an interesting holiday for me. It was a devastating day for many years, because of a string of miscarriages that left me feeling like I was a mom with no living children. It was further compounded when we were placed with Jafta but not able to finalized his adoption for another 3 years. Every mother’s day I was aware that I was a mom, but that this could be a temporary situation.
Because of those years, I’m keenly aware of the gratitude I feel about being a mom. It didn’t come easily for me and I don’t ever want to take it for granted. I think Mother’s Day is a good time to reflect on the gifts that are my kids, but also to contemplate what kind of legacy I want to leave my kids. When my kids look back and how I shaped their lives, there are definitely some values that stand out for me:
I want them to be empathetic. This is probably the most important legacy I want to leave. I want my kids to consider the thoughts and feelings of others. I want them to understand that they don’t live in a vacuum and that they should always consider how their behavior makes others feel. I want them to have understanding and compassion for the people around them.
I want them to have boundaries. I think this is an important partner with empathy. I want my kids to offer grace to others, but also understand that they can say “no” or choose to distant themselves from people who are unhealthy. I want them to understand that forgiveness and love can be extended to someone without allowing them to walk all over you or continue bad behavior. I want my kids to know how to assert themselves with kindness.
I want them to be good global citizens. I want my kids to be concerned with things happening outside their own little bubble. I want them to be interested in other cultures and places, and to understand the shared humanity of everyone living on this planet. I want them to see the world and to be able to feel a connection to it’s fellow citizens regardless of our differences.
I want them to learn how to fail. I can never protect them from the frustrations, hurts, and failures that are inherent in the human experience. I try to find a balance between protecting them and allowing them to experience life. While I won't fix their problems, I will help them figure out how to handle them. I want them to learn how to deal with struggles and trials, and to have the confidence to know they can handle whatever obstacles they face. I will be there and walk beside them, but I will also let them fail and learn and grow from that experience. I won’t wrap them in bubble tape as children because they need to develop resilience before they go out into the world.
I want them to be okay with being imperfect. I don’t ever want my kids to feel like they can’t live up to my expectations, or that they need to be perfect to earn my love. As difficult as it may be, I want to show them by example that it's OK to mess up. It's OK to flat-out fail. Mistakes happen, but I want my children to know that they can always start over or try again. I'm learning that it's not my place to manage every aspect of my kid’s life and to trust in their own abilities to make good decisions.
I am proud of them. I want my kids to know that I am always proud of them, regardless of what path they choose. I want them to feel free to choose their own passions, which may be different from my own.
Family is the most important thing. I want our family to always be a safe place to land. I want my kids to feel like I have their back well after their launch out of our house. I hope that they feel like our relationship is one they want to cultivate not our of obligation but because there is a great bond there. I think this starts when they are little – by making sure that they always feel valued and known . . . and not just known for who I want them to be, but who they really are.
This is the legacy I hope to leave my children. Leading up to Mother’s Day, Legacy.com is giving people the opportunity to talk about the legacy of their own moms. If you've lost your mother--or a mother figure--share how her legacy lives on, using Legacy.com’s Tribute Wall.