(From left are: Sieb, Karen, Rebecca and Sarah.)
Now that my children are grown, I often reflect on the journey I have had as a mother.
I imagine my life as a mom is probably not too different than many others. I am so grateful for everything I have gained from motherhood, especially the things I learned from being a single mom.
My children have given me so much in the way of experiences. I’ve spent 35 years watching them grow up while facing many challenges along the way, and embracing the joys of motherhood. I can’t imagine how empty my life would be without my three wonderful grown children.
With Thanksgiving right around the corner, I think now is a good time to reflect back on what my kids have taught me.
1. Real love
I honestly thought I knew the meaning of real love before I had children, but they have given me such a deeper understanding of what love is. I am talking about the power, the miracles, the connection that real love has in life. I am enriched by the unlimited, unconditional love that my children have taught me.
I have a spiritual, never ending bond with them that will always be a comfort to me, like a cozy warm blanket. This connection gives me intuition I never had before. I can sense what is happening to them that cannot be explained except by love.
I have learned the meaning of gratitude because I am grateful for all the amazing things about my children; their personalities, their individuality, their talents, their beauty, their minds, and their spirits. I feel utterly overwhelmed by how grateful I am for them. I feel extremely fortunate for all the things my children have taught me—and continue to teach me.
3. Joy in simple things
One of the very first things I learned as a parent was to find the joy that exists in life’s precious moments. From the moment they were born, and as they took their first steps and learn to talk, and then as they grew and changed in so many fascinating ways, I am both humbled and astounded by my experiences as a mother. I have learned to see the joy in life’s simplicity, to relish the beauty of special moments, and to savor the precious time I have with them. Joy is always my first thought when I think of my kids and what they mean to me.
I never knew patience until I became a mom. Kids just naturally put you in situations where you have to be patient. Whether it was a temper tantrum in a public place, or the difficulty of dealing with junior high students, I have learned patience that I never knew existed. I believe no one can be a good parent without learning patience, and I am grateful for my parents’ patience, so I could have the ability to be patient with my own children.
There is no doubt about it—I am a better person because I am a parent. I have a greater capacity for understanding my children as well as other people. I am still faced with new situations every day when my grown children test my parenting abilities and help me to reach for greater understanding of life. Every person faces their own difficulties, but I have learned that your children always need you—always. So parenting is both a never ending challenge and a gift.
When I think back on some of the difficulties I faced as a young single mom raising three children, I can see that I have learned to persevere. Being a mother is one of the hardest things in the world because you are never really prepared for what comes next.
Through a myriad of experiences, (none of them easy), I have learned so much. Situations ranging from the panic of temporarily losing sight of my five-year-old, to the painful ordeal of dealing with drug abuse, and on to the triumph of athletic competitions and college graduations—I have seen it all.
7. Meaning of faith
I thought I had faith before my children were born, but I know now that I only had superficial faith. I am talking about faith in God, faith in myself and faith in others. Most importantly, I have learned to have faith in my children, which is extremely important to have through all the years and all their troubles and triumphs. My faith keeps me going and helps me to realize again how grateful I am to be a mom.
8. Value of hope
Life teaches us so many things. If I wasn’t a mother, I would never have learned the true value of hope. Hope is not an easy lesson to learn, because like faith, it can seem fragile. But by investing in faith I have learned to carry hope in my mind and heart. I know now what it means to be hopeful, to think positive, and to always have hope for the good of the world. My children have taught me this—they have been there, without fail, ready to remind me to be hopeful whenever I need it.
9. Appreciation for life
Life is better for me, because I am a mother. I don’t know if I would feel like my life had as much meaning if I had not become a mom. My heart goes out to women who never know the experience of motherhood. Mothers are one of the pillars of society, as I see it. My mom was the glue that held my original family together, so I have become the glue that holds my own kids close to me forever. And this bonding will continue in their lives after I am gone. This is the magic of parenthood. It is a challenge and a privilege that you pass on.
10. Love of humanity
Parenthood has taught me the concept of believing in more than myself. It has given me strength and an understanding that causes me to reach out, connect to, and love the whole of humanity. My concept of how I fit into the world is much larger now. I am able to relate to more people in more ways and to love other people’s children as well as my own. No matter where I go or what I do, the love of my children stays with me, gives me strength and helps me relate to the world.
I never could have gained this knowledge without the teachings of motherhood.
Author: Karen Bresnahan
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photos: Author’s Own