Today I am embracing my inner badass mother. On the outside, I am your typical late thirties, skinny jean-wearing, pot-planting, SUV driving mother. But on the inside, I am transitioning to a hip-hop rapping, bling wearing, chin nodding and ‘aha aha’ murmuring, badass!
Or at least, I am trying to.
Parenting teens is difficult, especially as a single mother. I do not have moral backup. I cannot tag-out of the difficult issues I am not naturally adept at addressing. I am no longer their soft place to fall. I am not cool to be around in public. I know nothing…even when my academic credentials prove otherwise. I am defeated in strength and stature. I am not intimidating when I am angry, and my opinion of disappointing behaviour is now rather insignificant.
Up until recently, my children have been my whole world. All my decisions have had their wellbeing at the forefront. I have sacrificed my whole self for them. I relinquished full night’s sleep for a decade, to ensure the management of health conditions was optimal. I worked hard to finance their private schooling. I have juggled weekly life to take them to hundreds of hours of appointments and therapies. I have frozen my tooshie off in winter at Saturday morning soccer. I have driven them across the countryside for music lessons. I have made sure they had nice clothes, haircuts, toys, and books. I have sidelined my own interests and goals and put their needs first.
If I am brutally honest, a small percentage of this sacrifice, has been for my own glory. The glory of being hailed a “good mother”, the accolades from friends of “I don’t know how you do it”, the social media affirmation of staged milestone photos, the recognition at Mother’s Day Church services complete with lapel flower and chocolate hearts, shining case plan reports from social workers who were relieved that my deeds reduced their own workload, the pictures for the family portrait wall, the inner fulfillment of knowing I’m a ‘good Christian woman’.
Another part has also been to compensate for the guilt of being divorced. My subconscious inner voice often reminds me of these failures yet can be easily be ignored when I am busy caring for the children. Being rejected as a wife is the ultimate shame, however if the children turn out ‘alright’, my sins appear forgiven. I can hold my head high in my community! Redemption is possible! My logic tells me, ‘if I can’t be a good wife, then I’ll be a good mother’!
But sacrificing all is what a ‘good mother’ does, right?
Despite all my intentions and sacrifices, I feel as though I have come up short. Have they all been worth it?
The pre-teen to teenage season, has not gone to plan. I was not successful at shielding my children from the dysfunctions of my marriage and its effect on them. Toxic patterns have started to rear their ugly heads, and out of necessity, I’ve had to change my tune from ‘mother of the year who sacrifices all’…to ‘badass who accepts none of your ****** (insert your own adjective here).
This badass-mother-in-training does not sacrifice all. She invests where it is fruitful, enforces boundaries, refuses disrespect, and elevates her own self-worth, fulfillment, and safety above her children’s. (I felt guilty just writing that sentence…this badass is still a work in progress…clearly!)
The transition has been frightening. It has taken me years of failed attempts at faulty behaviour and co-parenting negotiations to arrive at the only option left at my disposal.
Hand the children over to their circumstances, desires, and ultimately…their God.
Over time there has been incessant regressions, then re-attempts to…
Let go. Let go. Let go.
Let go of their health.
Let go of their moral development.
Let go of their education.
Let go of their opinion of you.
Let go of other’s opinions of you.
Fast forward a year or two, and this is where it has led me.
Make no mistake, letting go hurts. It hurts a lot.
I regularly grieve. I mourn. I am disappointed that my family is not what I desired.
But I still love them. In a different way. In a safer way.
If I had continued the path I was on, it would have been more of the same for years to come. Arguments, power-struggles, constantly explaining myself, broken things, being used and manipulated, name calling, pleading for co-parenting and department support and character assassinations. It would lead to a future of toxic relationships not only for myself, but for my children and their future partners and families. I could see history repeating itself over decades, I could possibly still be a victim of it as an elderly woman. Round and round the abuse cycle.
Instead, by embracing my inner badass, it is possible me and my children will have a different outcome. I acknowledge there is a risk that I will lose them completely, however, I have placed those worries in God’s hands. Instead I try to focus on the goal of my children learning that all people have limits and all people deserve respect. That choices have consequences, good and bad. Forgiveness can be sought; however, repeated negative behavior does not need to be accepted.
So, I have been on a journey towards badass-ness. Yes, I have been accused of ‘rejection’, and I have faced the dreaded fear of ‘what if people call me a ‘bad mother’’.
But it no longer has power over me.
I am fighting for my children by putting my skinny jean-wearing, pot-planting, SUV driving weapons down, and instead laying my family’s future at the foot of the cross. His will be done, not mine.
I am now free of cursed maternal expectations and guilt trips, and let me tell you, it is nothing short of empowering and enlightening.
Will you join me and become a badass mother too?