Imperfect parenting

September 12th is a strange day for me. Each year on that date I am reminded of just how fast time moves, and how it seems to never move at all. This year, on Sept. 12th, it will be 25 years since my mom died. 25 years. That number is so big. Those years can't have all gone by. It cannot have been that long since I saw my mom.

And really, it hasn't been that long because there are times I see her in my dreams and there are moments when I think I feel her near me. 25 years ago I was 16 and I was a child in many ways and also way too grown up having been through her illness with her. Now, at 41, I try to keep a childish hope alive - for dreams to come true. For prayers to be answered. For optimism to remain in my eyes and delight to remain in my laughter. For myself and my children and my family and my friends I wish for them what I wish for me: to be buoyant and adored and light of foot and open of heart.

But I also grow older and, while maybe only a little wiser, certainly more non-judgmental. I realize that people make mistakes, myself included, and the best thing we can do is to forgive and be empathetic- with others and their foibles, with ourselves and our imperfections. The same holds true for our parents- and maybe the best thing we can do for the child we were and the parents they are is to allow them a little leeway. To appreciate that, while we may want perfection from our parents, that's not fair to them and it's not fair to us.

Putting our parents on pedestals just serves to disappoint because parents aren't perfect- no one really is. I miss my mom but I also understand as I am a mother myself and as I get older, that she wasn't perfect, neither is my dad. But each of them and both of them tried their best and at times they succeeded terrifically and at others they failed just the same.

So this year, 25 years later, I am giving myself a gift and my parents as well: I forgive and accept my mom for who she was and my dad for who he is. I appreciate that I am where I am today and I am who I am today because of their imperfect parenting. I miss my mom and I miss all of her, not just the perfect times. Because when she wasn't right, and when things didn't work out as she planned, she showed me how persevere, how one day follows the next, whether you think you can make it or not. She showed me that being a mother was a difficult task, one she did both well and not-so-much. And it's taking those both into account that I appreciate her. I hope that my children will some day do the same for me.

After all, this is the life.


  1. Allison, you probably don't realize this, but embedded in this post is the title to your future book: Bouyant and Adored, Light of Foot and Open of Heart. Don't stop writing; your words reach others.


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