I should have been a nun

I should have been a nun

Let me reintroduce you to my mother ~ the delightfully crazy but lovable Italian lady who is quite possibly the most nervous mother I’ve ever met. Case in point, our neighbors who lived directly across the street from us love to tell the story of how they didn’t realize there were children living in our house until we reached kindergarten and my mother was forced to let us outside the shelter of her 6-foot picket fence.

To this day she still makes me call her when I get home after traveling for work, or even just leaving her house that’s less than 30 minutes away from my home. She’s that anxious.

Growing up she often responded to even the smallest childhood drama with “I should have been a nun” ~ meaning she couldn’t handle the stress of parenting. Oh Lord, such a worry! {insert sign of the cross} It was a little unsettling at times when as a child you look to mom and dad to be the voice of reason and stability. At some point my brothers and I realized this knee-jerk reaction was part of her unique mothering package.

While I’ve never uttered those words to my own children I am currently experiencing the most stressful phase of parenting as my children progress through the teenage years. And there are times when it feels like I just can’t handle one more issue. It’s not enough to love them unconditionally, although that’s always at the core of every decision.

When my husband and I chose to start a family ~ or rather when I finally convinced him that he had the fortitude to do it ~ we couldn’t see past the early years ~ the newborn and toddler stages where the most pressing decisions revolved around cloth vs. disposable. Organic vs. processed. Nanny vs. daycare.

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Don’t get me wrong those are important decisions that set the course for your parenting style, establish trust with your child and partnership with your spouse. It demonstrates a desire to do the right thing, to provide for their health and safety. Back in those beloved prenatal days, it was impossible for us to anticipate the rocky, unpredictable road of life with TEENAGERS.

As they get older, the world suddenly shifts with outside influences and temptations and new questions arise around how do we build trust and character in them? How do we develop and nurture kind and upstanding citizens? Kids who act with integrity and accountability. It’s not enough to pray for their health and happiness. We’re sending forth young adults who will contribute to and define the course of the future.

Yes, I was a teenager once like a million years ago but it doesn’t matter. The world has become more complicated and the answers aren’t always black and white.

Like my mother, there have been many times that I feel overwhelmed and unsure about my own parenting abilities and decisions. Am I too strict? Too lenient? What’s the right course of discipline? When should I trust their judgment versus pushing my own opinion? 

In my indecisiveness, I have often wondered if they sense my insecurity and if I’ve lost some credibility along the way. In my anguish, a counselor recently suggested to me that there is goodness and honesty in parenting when our children watch us process how to do the right thing. That we weigh the pros and cons one situation at a time. Or go so far as to admit that even parents don’t know everything and so we do our research or seek the advice of others. Hopefully there’s a lesson for them that sometimes there are many choices and the right one isn’t always obvious. Or what works for someone else may not be right for our family.

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In the end we won’t always make the right call. We won’t. Kids are moving targets. What works one day may not work the next. And if you have multiple children, the right course of action may be different for each of them and the unique circumstances they face. Hopefully we get it right more often than not and in the meantime what matters most is that they witness our good intentions and dedication in trying to work things out with them and for them. And that no matter how old they get, there isn’t anything we can’t resolve together, in the same total and unconditional love.

Do I wish I had been a nun? Hell no. Had I chosen not to start a family, I imagine I’d have more money and time ~ and a lot less emotional stress.

But I’d also have a lot less laughter and love.



18 thoughts on “I should have been a nun”

  • I have really enjoyed this! You’re so right when you say that today’s world isn’t like the one we had. It makes parenting all that more difficult, as far as I am concerned, because our kids are faced with realities that we never thought possible when we were growing up.

    • Thanks so much for stopping by Billie! Parenting can be incredibly stressful, as much as it is beautiful. The more I talk to other parents with real honesty, the more I find we’re all facing the same struggles. No one has it figured out but there’s relief in supporting each other.

    • Thanks so much Angie! It’s such a funny saying from my crazy mom but I can’t imagine my life without my family ~ and she’s given me a lot of material to blog about 🙂 xo

  • Hi, Mary! Just read your blog post, and I so appreciate your honesty and humility! I was simply struck by how blessed your children are to have a mother who is willing to step back, reflect, admit when she doesn’t know what’s best, and still plod along — one day at a time. This is no small thing! The moments I’ve respected my mom the most are often the moments she’s been able to admit to mistakes she made when I was a child. So keep up the courage! Mistakes aren’t fatal — relationship comes first!

    • Hi Anna, wow I needed that! Thank you for taking the time to read my blog and leaving such a thoughtful comment. It made my day! xo

  • This post is great and so relatable…. the best part though is the last sentence “But I’d also have a lot less laughter and love.” Sounds like your mom is full of love even though it may come off as worry, but I’m sure that has been a great attribute she passed on to you <3

    • Thanks Renee! She’s a bit crazy and has given me lots of blog fodder. But I’m sure my children say I’m crazy too. Hopefully they recognize it as love. <3

  • Awww your mom sounds like an awesome women! I still tell my friends and even my mom “make sure to call me when you get home”. Parenting is the hardest job we will ever have in life

    • Parenting is the hardest job and no matter how much you tell that to new or soon-to-be parents you just don’t understand it until you’re in it. As crazy as I think my mom is, I’m turning into her. Yikes!

  • WOW! Your mother was a wise woman haha, it seems like it’s every moms struggle on deciding what’s best for her child. But in motherhood it must all happen sooner or later

    • Such a struggle! I think as moms we owe it to each other to be honest that neither we nor our kids are perfect and we’re all doing the best we can.

  • You are so right. I have teens AND a toddler right now. People say that I must be so happy to have help with the baby. Um, no, I’m still PARENTING the teens and their boo boos are way harder to fix. xo

    • That’s too funny and so true! I have 4 kids. Three are teens and close together in age. Then I have my “bonus baby” who’s now 10 but I’m so grateful for him. He still loves me while the others are driving me crazy!! xo back

  • The teenage years are the most challenging, as children learn how to forge their adult identity. Overwhelming! It sounds like you are doing a wonderful job, and that your teens are well-equipped to be conscious and deeply caring people. Thank you for sharing your story!

    • Thank you Faith! Fingers are crossed. A wise woman recently told me that as parents we try to mold our children like clay but in reality they’re more like wood. They are who they are and as parents we just need to soften the edges. Thanks for visiting!

  • I love that phrase lol. Parenting is such a challenging thing. You are never doing it “right” and it is scary how different days are from one another. There are days I feel I am rocking motherhood and others where I want to curl up! So hard but so worth it

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