My Promise to My Children
The Kind of Mother I Will Be
I will not set a curfew for my children. Not because I don't care about them, but because I DO care. Because I will teach my children how to check in with me. Because each situation is different, because I'm not going to insist on an 11pm curfew on Prom Night. Because I will trust my children to be intelligent enough to be responsible for their hours. Because I know teenagers need to push limits, and the last one I want to have is one about time, because I understand that without a specific time to be home they will be less likely to need to stay out late pushing an envelope that isn't there. And because I will make damn sure that they know if they're not home at the time they've told me or if they don't check in, I will be calling the police, knocking on doors, and otherwise raising hell until I figure out where they are.
I will read them piles of books. I will take them to the library and teach them that story time is magical. I will introduce them to Harry Potter and Katniss Everdeen and Frodo Baggins and Robert Jordan and George Orwell and David Wong. I have them meet Bill Peet and Dr. Seuss and Roald Dahl. I will never make them read See Spot Run to me. I will teach them about classics and how some of them are bollocks. Because to love books is to love what humans are. Because when you are curled up with a book you can feel infinitely alive. Because reading makes you smarter. Because there are more worlds than you can ever imagine and the only way you can visit is through books. Because imagination will always trump the big screen.
I will make them eat oatmeal for breakfast. I will make them eat spinach and green beans and quinoa and whole wheat. Because there are better things in this world than ketchup and mac & cheese (namely, creme brulee). Because they need to know that nutrition is important and they need to be concerned about what they put in their bodies. I will teach them how to eat the things they don't like, because they need to know how to do this to not hurt their future mother-in-law's feelings (and mine on bad cooking days).
I will make them get a summer job. Because they need to learn to be responsible. Because the only way they will learn about money is by having some. Because I will not give them an allowance. Because I will be working too and will need a break.
I will teach them how to chew with their mouths closed. I will teach them to keep elbows off the table. I will teach them to swallow quietly, not lick fingers or plates. I will teach them not to slurp. Because good manners are the last surviving bits of royalty in our blood and so when they are grandparents they won't be sucking on their fingers and embarrassing their grandchildren. Because they will likely marry someone with the same table manners as them (having driven away any potential suitors with better manners).
I will let them go visit their grandparents for a week without me. Because they need to visit their grandparents and learn how to love them. Because their grandparents are my parents, and will always be wiser than me and have more experience about raising children. Because I will enjoy a week to myself. Because they will enjoy getting spoiled for a week. Because both parties will be glad to return to normal after that time frame.
I will teach them to run. I will teach them to love the thrill of exercise. I will show them how to care for
I will teach them how to have dreams. I will teach them how to reach for them and support them. I will teach them to be acheiver's. I will teach them to love learning so they can go anywhere they want. I will have dreams and reach for them. Because dreams are the stuff that make life worth living.
I want to be the kind of mother who teaches her daughters about skin care so they don't have to go through the same pain that I did trying to figure it out on their own. I will take them to dermatologists and teach them how to wash twice a day and leave pimples alone. I will show them how to love themselves even on 'bad skin' days by doing that myself. I will understand the crippling fear and shame that comes when your skin is so broken out you don't even want to look people in the eye. I will teach them how milk and sugars can make acne worse, and how gentle olive oil face washes can make it better. I will teach them how to care for their skin. Because I wish my parents had known more about this and hadn't avoided talking to me about it.
I will teach them who Benedict Cumberbatch is. Just because.
I will teach them how to make good choices in music. I will teach them how to have opinions in what they like and dislike. I will teach them that country music can be enjoyed, and that some rap music has a message. I will teach them to adore indie rock and Weird Al. I will teach them to appreciate more than shallow pop music, and I will dance along with them to the current heartthrobs that are permeating pop airwaves. Because they need to know how not to be swayed by the ever-changing top-40's chart. Because they shouldn't have to wait until they are 40 to learn what good music is. Because to love music is to love life itself.
I will talk to them about sex. I will love them enough not to be embarrassed or cry when they come to me with proof that their bodies are maturing. I will teach them to love their bodies as they grow and change. I will be the kind of mother they can ask those frank and embarrassing questions to. I will not laugh when they ask me what a donkey punch is. I will be the one they aren't afraid to ask so they don't have to learn the hard way from their friends or be confused when their roommates start talking about things. I will not be accepting of loose morals, and I will teach them how to stay true to themselves. Because children need someone who they can trust to talk about these things, otherwise who are they going to turn to?
If I have a son or daughter who is homosexual, I will love them. I won't be a parent who shuts them out, tries to pretend that part of their life doesn't exist. I will love them, accept them, and be there for them. Because in doing this I will be the parent that they need, not the parent that religion or the world or fear says I should be.
Most of all, I will love them. Because I'm their mother, and that's what mothers do.