Amendment to above statement: Everyone should have a son like mine.
The poor kid. He was the first, the oldest, our guinea pig because new parents know nothing, absolutely nothing about raising children. I look back at all the mistakes I made with him, the regret I have about things I did or didn’t do and it makes me sad. He turned out better than okay in spite of the inept parenting he received, which has more to do with who he is than it does with me.
I wasn’t a very nice mother when he was little. I’m afraid, if I hadn’t pulled back in time, I’d have followed in my own mother’s footsteps. Thank God that didn’t happen. When my son was maybe three, I’d spanked him for something, I forget what, and I thought I was becoming borderline abusive. I asked my husband how he could let me do that. When I apologized to my son I told him sometimes I just didn’t know what to do. He looked at me with tear-filled brown eyes and said, “Just be nice to me.” I don’t think I ever spanked him again. Who knew a three-year-old was qualified to offer parenting tips? But the truth is, at that young age, he made me a better mother.
After that when I thought I might lose it, the best thing I could do was send him to his room so I could vent my rage elsewhere. Yes, my children will tell you, I might have slammed a door too hard or put a dent in the drywall a time or two. But better to vent on inanimate objects than on them.
I don’t know now if I was the kind of mother my son needed. One of the biggest mistakes I made as a parent was giving my kids too much freedom. I didn’t ask enough questions and I didn’t follow my gut instinct when I should have. They made life-changing mistakes I will always think I could have prevented if I’d been tougher and stricter and less trusting of them as teenagers. But I can’t undo it now. Like most life lessons, once you learn them, you never need them again.
My parenting was a result of my own childhood. That feeling that I never got to do anything. That I was always told no. I didn’t want to be that way with my kids. So I said yes much too often and to their detriment. But they survived in spite of it, and I hope learned whatever lessons they were meant to learn.
When I say my daughter is a better version of me, my son and I have actually talked about how he is a better version of his father. He has the same intelligence, the same work ethic, the same drive and ambition. But in my son, many of his father’s sharp edges are softened. He has the kind of warmth that draws people to him. He’s interested in helping others see their own potential. He’s a natural leader who can lead with integrity and honesty. He’s not afraid to be who he is, but he doesn’t have to toot his own horn. He’s simply quietly confident.
When he was little, what I remember about my son is he never feared joining in. If I took him to a playground, he’d go play with the other kids. He was always doing something, often making up games for the neighborhood kids to play, creating goals and rules. I guess he still does that in a way, in his own life and in his career.
And he can write. He could always write. Oh, and like his father, he has such a memory. For facts, figures, things he’s read. Sports trivia. An almost photographic memory which I envy.
He has a natural talent for hospitality and for business. He gets what makes a business work, what makes it successful. He understands people, how to motivate them, how to discipline them without breaking their spirit. How to bring out the best in them.
He has said when he was in school, especially high school, he treated everyone the same. He wasn’t mean and he wasn’t a snob. Which is a good thing because he lives in the same area where he grew up and he runs into a lot of those same people on a daily basis.
He’s taken unconventional paths to get to where he is now, but I think that was what he had to do. He had to do it his way.
There’s nothing better than having a son you can be proud of. Someone you admire. A son you enjoy and who brings you joy just by being who he is. That’s why you want to tell everyone, “He’s mine.”
Created February 20, 2011, by Barbara Meyers