normality & unfulfilled promises
I don't know what a "good mother" does.
I imagine that in some families, the parents have had their own emotional needs met in childhood and are healthy enough to parent in a confident way, taking some middle road between coddling their children and abusing them. This shouldn't be confused with parenting "perfectly" - there are no perfect people, therefore there are no perfect parents. But I assume that some people are emotionally intact enough to parent competently, treating their children with sensitivity, offering guidance, providing limits, nurturing them in a way that is emotionally responsive and fosters independence.
What does that look like?
Yesterday my oldest son reminded me of a promise I had made to him to download an audiobook. I got testy with him, telling him that he needed to remind me at some time other than bedtime, and that perhaps he should write a note to me and post it somewhere where I would see it.
Later I realized what an ass I had been. The "write me a note" advice is dismissive and, moreover, pulled straight from my mother's playbook. How is it his responsibility to remind me of a promise? I'm the one that made the promise, I'm the one who has neglected to fulfil the promise, and why? Because I'm "too busy"? I downloaded the file immediately, updated my iPod before I could get "busy" again and forget.
I wish I knew how frequently a "normal" parent fails to come through on a promise. When is it simply human, and when is it a sign of detachment, neglect, carelessness?
This morning I apologized to my son for not coming through on my promise, and for nagging him to remind me. It's not his job to hound me to do something I said I would do; it's my job. I'm the adult, I'm the one who made a commitment, and I'm the one who must see it through.
One of the things I wish for him is that he considers it "normal" for a parent to come through on a promise more often than not, without putting the burden of the promise on the child's shoulders.