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Regrets, I Have a Few

This weekend is a time to celebrate motherhood. As a mom, I appreciate the attention but it also gives me a chance to reflect on what kind of a parent I've been. I always knew that I'd be good with all the baby and toddler stuff. And I was. My tough time came in adolescence and beyond. That's when it was important to be consistent and have logical, enforceable consequences and I wasn't very good at either of those.

Despite my shortcomings, my kids have turned out pretty well. They do remind me regularly that it's my fault that they don't know how to handle a lot of the "adult" challenges that are coming their way because I usually bailed them out of difficulties when they were younger. To this, I say "be thankful that the good times lasted as long as they did".

I was a child of The Sixties. My mom stayed at home and took care of everything. The most I had to do for myself was grab a bowl of cereal and occasionally make my bed. With a mother that was the epitome of the Betty Crocker housewife, there was little I could do that lived up to her standards so, like any smart teenager, I screwed up everything she asked me to do so that she would stop asking. And she did. My kids didn't have it quite as easy but looking back, I wish I had been tougher about enforcing basic rules like cleaning their rooms, doing homework right after school and helping with after dinner clean-up. I just couldn't seem to stick to any of the chore/homework/reward plans I was continually dreaming up. The bottom line was punishment for them usually translated into punishment for me and, sooner rather than later, I let them off the hook.

But, you know what? I'm done apologizing. I loved my kids within an inch of their lives and that ought to count for something. Okay, I never made you cook us dinner – go buy a cookbook. Okay, I didn't make you do your own laundry – throw the red towel in with the white shirt and learn the way the rest of us did. Okay, I didn't get you a dog. Well, that one I really am sorry about but what I can do now? I know. As soon as they get real jobs, with a real place to live, I'll trek down to the shelter and pick out the cutest pup in the place. That way they can practice on a pet before they get around to raising my future grandchildren.

Maybe they'll make fewer mistakes than I did. But I'm not betting on it.

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