The Mother of All Relationships
by Beth K. Vogt
“Among those whom I like or admire, I can find no common denominator, but among those whom I love, I can: all of them make me laugh.”
~W. H. Auden, poet
Motherhood is about relationship.
Please don’t skim over those four words with a cursory, “I know that!” We load the concept of motherhood down with so many things – a gazillion dos and don’ts, shoulds and shouldn’ts … you know, expectations. In the midst of all the doing, we lose sight of why we’re moms.
Too often I hear moms of teens say “I can’t wait until my child is 18 and out of the house!” I’m all for our children becoming independent young adults. But is our only mom-goal to wave goodbye to our sons and daughters once they’ve earned a high school diploma?
I worked at developing a relationship with my now-adult-children when they were younger. Worked at it. Why else did I read them their favorite books? Walk them to the park? Snuggle with them? Sing them songs? Listen to them as they whispered their dreams – and their fears? Motherhood is not a spectator sport. Oh, sure, I sat on the sidelines and watched them play sports. But even then I was intentional, showing them love by being there for both wins and losses.
When I made a mistake as a mom – and I made my fair share – I asked forgiveness and tried again. Motherhood stretched my heart past the limits of my wants and needs to the point of considering others – my children – more important than myself.
Effort. Commitment. Availability. Forgiveness. All qualities of a relationship, aren’t they? If I pursued relationships with my son and daughters in the toddler and pre-teen years, why would I abandon them once they became teenagers?
Was it always easy to stay connected with my teens? No. Sometimes I felt like I was talking into dead air. Was it worth it? Absolutely. I knew what I had, what I wanted to maintain and what I wanted to preserve for the future: relationships.
Do you want to protect your relationship with your child? Do this one thing: Laugh with them. I bet you thought I was going to suggest praying for them. There’s that too. I do not discount the value of prayer. However, during the pre-teen and teen years, when the hormones are flowing and the angst is high, laughter is the great diffuser. It’s difficult to stay mad at someone when you’re laughing with them. Play card games and board games like Uno or Balderdash and What’s Yours Like?, which always promote raucous good times in my family. Watch the old Dick Van Dyke TV shows or whatever tickles your family’s funny bone.
My relationship with my children started the day they were born. I haven't let anything – least of all the adolescent years – steal those relationships away from me.
Beth K. Vogt is the author of Baby Changes Everything: Embracing and Preparing for Motherhood after 35. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or twitter.com/bethvogt.