Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Memoirs of a Bad Mother

On my favorite home school support forum (provided by Sonlight Curriculum – see the side bar for more information about SL), someone on the international forum recently asked us veteran moms how old our children were when we allowed them to leave the house by themselves.

It never occurred to me what a horribly negligent mother I was until I started typing my answer to this e-maginary friend.

The truth is that I let my oldest two boys walk to the corner to buy fresh tortillas when they were about three and four years old. Usually I went with them, but if little brother needed attention just then and I didn’t want to carry him, I would send the boys on their own. What was I thinking?

Oldest children are born half-grown-up, just because moms like me are so clueless and trusting. I am so thankful God protected them. Even with my seventh, I used to let her walk a beaten path through the desert to a friend’s house (the distance of about two city blocks) when she was only about eight years old.

Nowadays things are different. Life isn’t quite so safe in these parts any more. I had to laugh at myself when I fretted over the possibility of our single houseguest having to take a city bus by herself, when I had let my own daughter take a bus to the dentist in the city with only a little brother for a bodyguard back when she was 15. Now I am concerned about a 23-year-old?

Then there was the time I sent my 17-year-old daughter on a plane by herself to the Philippines to help out a family for seven months. What was I thinking? I never considered there could be a glitch in the scheduling, requiring her to spend one night alone in a hotel in Tokyo, that’s for sure.

I guess the bottom line is that I wouldn’t recommend to anyone my method of child-rearing. Maybe it helped the older four adjust to college in the U.S. and Canada, having been so independent for so long. But still, looking back at all the what-if’s gives me the shivers.

Our houseguest has moved into a more permanent housing situation with a roommate now, and I am trying not to smother her with my motherly counsel, but still I can’t help praying for her safety each day as she travels to the school where she teaches and back.

I hope my college kids have a mama nearby, worrying over their comings and goings. I’m thankful for ddils watching over my oldest two sons, who survived their childhoods with little help from their negligent mother. At the same time I am trying not to restrict my younger three kids beyond what is healthy, even in these uncertain times.

Last week’s brief funk sent me back to the Word. This week’s worries are sending me back to my knees. Both are good places to be.

IRL* Discovering my apparent developmental delay in the area of motherly instincts and child preservation.


  1. I just wanted to tell you that each Wed morning I look forward to reading your latest post. Thanks for always bringing me a smile, word of encouragement, or both! Have a blessed Wed when it hits your side of the world. =)

  2. We raised our children in a safe place, too, and they were given a lot of independence early on. I did always make sure my daughter was in a group and that she didn't wander off to the market all by herself. I also made sure that she stuck to the local definition of modesty, which is very modest indeed! I'm really thankful they didn't have to be house bound all the time!

  3. Thanks, Michelle. And Hannatu, I am happy for your children's sake that you lived in a safe place. Trips to the U.S. we really had to pull in the reins, not knowing what was safe and what wasn't.

  4. I always felt safer in our country of service as an MK than I did back in the States - even with robberies, etc. We also enjoyed the freedom to walk to the nearest stores, ride bikes and local bus routes, that sort of thing. So I think you're a pretty "normal" missionary mom (if there is such a thing, ha!)

  5. May I quote you on that? I can get great mileage out of that phrase. Bless you, my friend.

  6. I find this so timely. Last week, I practically begged my (almost) 13 yr old to walk .3kms to the store by himself; he chose instead to stay home with his younger brothers while I walked to the store.

    Today, I sent the 5 yr old, in company of the (almost) 13 yr old and the 9 yr old and the dog, around the block for a walk. I've often let the 9 yr old go solo, but he's not allowed to supervise the 5 yr old.

    I told my DH both of these things, and he questioned my sanity in each case. The (almost) 13 yr old will NOT be walking to the store, and we're still discussing whether the 5 yr old can go with Big Brothers around the block or not (the issue there being car safety, as there are no sidewalks; nor is their traffic, though, inside our closed community....).

    To my knees I go, to seek wisdom and unity as well as protection for my boys when I make less than ideal choices.

  7. ah!!!! i know my mom will be glad there is someone watching out for me. you can check on me anytime. :)


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