No, it’s not Mother’s Day. Yes, this is an interview with my mother. Why? Because she is funny and has some good perspective on life. She raised four daughters and lived to tell about it. She once had major brain surgery because my sisters and I literally made her lose her mind. Okay, not really. She had Chiari Malformation, but I secretly believe her brain was trying to escape the insanity that was our household.
I love the idea of interviewing loved ones whether it is video recorded, taped, or typed. The website Story Corps gave me the idea a few years ago, so here it is. My first attempt at building my own Story Corps with important people in my life.
Four kids. Are you crazy?
Yes, that is an easy one. Is that the whole interview?
How did you keep from going insane when we were youngens?
Having really good friends to talk to, and I was so busy that I didn’t have time to go insane. Sitting and dwelling on things can make you feel crazy, but I really just didn’t have time.
What was your proudest parenting moment?
Honestly, it’s now. All my kids are grown up and unbelievably amazing.
Awww thanks, Mom
No really. All those years and years of work and to now have four really amazing, healthy, funny, responsible kids? That’s incredible.
What about that parenting moment you wish you could repress?
Oh my gosh. It’s not really a moment, it’s more of a decade. When you guys were little I was very controlling. I home-schooled and was such a perfectionist. I felt like my self-esteem as a mother depended on you guys being obedient. I felt like people would judge me if my kids acted out. With the first two kids, I was like that and it was really hard emotionally. With the younger two I wasn’t like that and it felt so much better.
After my Irrational Fears post, I received a lot of comments from parents who struggle with anxiety when it comes to their kids. They worry about them constantly. You have a lot of experience in this area, you’ve even watched me flat line on a table in the emergency room, so how did you cope? How can you live an anxiety-free life knowing that something could happen to one of your precious kids at any moment?
Well, I didn’t cope with it very well for a long time. I had anxiety attacks a lot. I got to the point where I had to realize that I’m not in control. God is in control and knows the time and date that each one of you (and me too) are going to die, there is nothing I can do to change any of that. Working through that was really hard, I was sobbing crying, and it was a huge release to really sit there and accept it in my mind. Once I accepted that, it really changed me. Sometimes I get back into thinking “what if this happens” or “what if that happens” and I just remind myself that it is out of my control. It’s one thing to KNOW it and one thing to BELIEVE it. The “Loving What Is” book helped me to believe it.
You have raised four daughters who all love each other and very rarely fight. In fact, I think the last time I had a real fight with one of my sisters was 8 years ago! What’s your secret?
The biggest thing to me is not saying “do it because I say so”, I just tried to respect all of you and thought you would probably learn to do the same. I would never just walk in and turn the TV off and say “get to work, do your chores.” I tried to treat you guys like your desires were important to me.
Was I your favorite child from the very beginning, or did my good looks and charm earn me that position over time?
<hahahahahhaha> you were all my favorites.
Fine, I’ll type that just because my sisters read this blog.
Tell the truth, did you keep having children because you were trying to have a boy? After four girls you just had to give up?
No, I didn’t even want a boy after the third one! After three girls I just wanted another one.
What does being an “empty nester” feel like after having kids running around for the past 26 years?
It feels wonderful. It’s so weird because so many people have a hard time being an “empty nester” but I don’t struggle with it! But I also didn’t cry when you kids went to kindergarten. I just don’t feel very emotional about it, and I used to wonder what was wrong with me? Here’s the thing, I’m always so happy for you kids when you reach milestones in your life so I am never sad about it. I can only be overjoyed and excited and proud, no sadness. I would be sad if you were still living at home with your parents, not moving on.
What is scarier: four daughters PMS’ing at the same time or being held at gunpoint by a psychotic serial killer?
<hahaha> I haven’t been held at gunpoint before but I would probably like to try that as an alternative to having you four girls PMS at the same time. I do remember a lot of screaming and yelling about hair products and clothing when you guys were growing up. Dad was not allowed to speak during those times. I trained him to not ask questions, especially “are you guys PMS’ing?”
When my sisters and I were teens, did we get away with anything? Are there things I did that you still haven’t told me that you know about? I don’t want to know what, just yes or no please <<terrified face>>.
Actually, I honestly don’t think so. When I found things out I would always say something to you. You would immediately get in trouble.
As a parent, what is the best thing your kids could say about you?
That I love them unconditionally.
What advice do you have for me about raising my own kids someday?
Stay home with them if you’re financially able to. If you work, make it so you can work from home at least part of the time. Being a stay at home mom is not for every body, some people are better moms when they aren’t home with the kids all day, but if it’s for you, then do it. Make it work. Bring your kids to church, teach them the importance of having some type of religion. Not all church experiences for us as a family were good, but they always taught us lessons.
Tell the truth. Do you love your grandson more than your own children?
What has surprised you most about being a parent?
How the time flies. It seems like your kid will never take her first step or be potty trained and now my kids are getting married. Enjoy where you are right now, it goes by so fast.