Don’t Be Sorry for the Struggle
It was the struggle that made me.
“You’re spoiling that child! She’s going to grow up thinking the world revolves around her!”
From the time I was a small child, friends and family warned my mom that her parenting would ruin me. They said I would grow up selfish—that I would expect everything handed to me on a silver platter.
It’s true that I didn’t suffer many consequences when I misbehaved. They were right that my mom rarely told me “no” when I wanted a new toy or outfit.
That’s because my mom, like many single mothers, often operated out of a sense of guilt that my dad wasn’t in the picture. For me, this led to more freedom and fewer consequences.
But all of those well-meaning family and friends didn’t consider this:
I watched my mother struggle.
I was with her at 2 a.m. when she began the baking at her small cake shop. I was with her when we arrived at the shop one day to find it had been broken into the night before. I was by her side when the pipes froze in the winter, when we got locked out of the house, and when we had a flat tire on the side of the road.
I watched her struggle.
Many parents try to insulate their kids from any type of struggle. And if their kids happen to see it, they feel guilty. Maybe it’s because we want to protect our children, or maybe it’s because we live in a world where the standard is to be Pinterest-perfect. This pressure to keep our kids from any type of struggle, imperfection or inconvenience is all around us.
But I can tell you from experience—it’s the struggle that made me.
I watched my mom struggle and overcome. I watched her work hard, and I saw her hard work pay off. I watched her hope when situations seemed hopeless. I watched her persevere with an absurd level of persistence. I watched her do the right thing, even when it cost her.
I watched the way she treated every single person with kindness. I watched how she went above and beyond for her customers. I watched how she always paused and talked to homeless people—even in the middle of the night when we were downtown unloading bags of powdered sugar and flour.
I watched her.
She worked harder than anyone I’d ever seen, gave generously of her time and money, and loved every person without limits.
And that’s what I learned growing up. I learned values, integrity and character. I developed resilience, persistence and self-esteem. I am who I am today because of everything she and I overcame together.
So what if she gave in every time I wanted a new coloring book at the grocery store checkout line?
Watching her—in the exciting times and in the struggle—is what created the very best parts of me.
So whether you’re a single parent or just an exhausted one, don’t be sorry for the struggle. Who you are is more than enough.