know I am going to ruffle feathers when I say that I could not disagree with it more. I try not to ruffle feathers on Facebook – for me, it’s not the place for that – but if I did, I’d have written an oppositional status that goes like this: “As a mother, I will teach by example that my children should value themselves, that they should not subjugate their happiness to another, and that real love does not require that. Real love is expansive, not restrictive; it encourages flight, not sacrifice or a loss of self.”
I could not love anyone more fiercely than I love my boys, and they know that. I have faced enormous odds on their behalf, stood up to bullies, risked being considered a bitch. I’ve lost sleep over them, worried myself sick. I’ve second, and third, and fourth guessed my parenting decisions. I’ve been firm when I wanted desperately to cave, said no when it felt like the hardest thing to do.
My boys are both taller than I am now, and they astound me every day with their intelligence, empathy, presence and poise. They are surefooted in a way I never have been; they move through the world with compassion and insight and confidence in their worth. I am, at times, so full of pride in them, I hurt with the sheer force of my love.
But I have never sacrificed my happiness for theirs.
When The Boy was an infant, I quit my job as a systems analyst to stay home. I loved my job. It was not an easy decision for me to make, but I felt a need to be more present, physically, in their lives. And we were lucky. We could afford to make that choice.
Within weeks of quitting, though, I began to feel trapped and sad. I cried a lot. I realized, with some dismay, that I was only there physically. Emotionally, I was lost. Psychologically, I was a mess. What saved me was going back to school. What saved me, and them, was that it never even occurred to me that they would (if they could) choose an unhappy mother over a happy and fulfilled one.
I’ve done a lot of things since I left my systems analyst job. I’ve taken many chances in pursuit of a what I’ve come to think of as my North Star life. And my biggest fans, my fiercest advocates, my greatest source for love and support and encouragement are my boys… My boys who would never, ever love me in a way that did not allow me to fly; my boys, who take flight all the time, because they know they can, because they know that the people who truly love them will never try to hold them down.
These are the beings I’ve raised, in an environment that celebrates big, messy, expansive, supportive love.
I wouldn’t have it any other way.