How Badly am I Screwing up my Children?


When my children were toddlers, I often checked them while they slept. They looked so sweet snuggled up in their blankets. So peaceful and innocent. In those moments, I was overcome by a joy that defies words or explanation.

That joy was quickly followed by paralyzing fear as I wondered, “How much did I screw them up today?”

There are still days I ponder how damaging it is for my children to grow up with me as their mother. Right now, they are teenagers. They (still) love me. Or at least I think they do!

But they haven’t begun to process their childhoods yet. That happens later, when they are grown and moved out of my home—possibly married and raising children of their own. That is when the darts start flying.

I THINK I have done a decent job in parenting my children. I know that was my intention. And that I tried (really, really hard) to be a good mother. But I will need to wait many more years before I find out what those two really think of my parenting methods.  In 15 years, at a random family gathering (such as Thanksgiving), I see it going something like this…

Darling Daughter: “Mom, why did you ALWAYS sell my furniture?”

I’ll be a sitting duck. Blindsided at the dinner table, fork halfway to my mouth, barely able to remember her furniture.

Then, it will slowly come back to me…

Just a couple of weeks ago, the kids and I traveled to Virginia to visit family for Christmas. We arrived in Leesburg, Virginia on Christmas day. After unloading the car, we all sat down to catch up.

As we chatted, I dragged out my laptop because I hadn’t checked my emails or eBay sales  for the day. We had been on the road for six hours.

Darling Daughter:  I LIKE my dresser. I really don’t want you to sell it, Mom.

Me:  (feeling the Christmas spirit) You can keep the Dresser. If you really like it, I won’t sell it.

Darling Daughter: Thanks, Mom.

I glanced down at my eBay summary page…

Me: Whoops, I spoke to soon. Your dresser sold today. And it’s already paid for. Sorry.

My side of the story: I purchased the dresser at an estate sale and always planned to re-sell it. It made sense to put it in my daughter’s room, for her to use it until I did so. She HATED the dresser at first. To me, the dresser was inventory.

Darling Daughter’s side of the story: She did hate the dresser at first, but then grew to like it—especially when I painted her room and added other dark wood furniture.

I certainly didn’t know she developed an attachment to the damned dresser. Otherwise, I would have removed it from my eBay Store listings. So now I am the cold-hearted mother that sold her daughter’s favorite dresser. And if it isn’t her favorite dresser yet, it will be by the time she has children and gets to tell the story!!

Nothing I can do. The dresser sold.

Luckily, I had a spare dresser in the garage. On deck, waiting to be stained and ‘prettied’ up–and I made quick work of the task. I wanted to make my daughter happy, as much as I wanted the ‘neat’ stacks of clothing on her bedroom floor put away.

Because I routinely buy and sell furniture, I do keep ‘spares’ around. Sort of like people keep extra toothbrushes for guests…

Me: You know…I think I like this dresser even better than the one that just sold.

Darling Daughter:  So do I.

We both stood smiling, looking at her ‘new’ dresser. Kind of having a ‘warm’ and ‘fuzzy’ mother/daughter moment.

Darling Daughter: Does that mean you are going to sell THIS one, too?

Oh boy, I am going to take a beating around that Thanksgiving table down the road…

No doubt about it.

I see my future. But for now, ignorance is bliss. I am keeping my illusions. I will continue giving this ‘parenting’ thing my best efforts each day, until the children burst my bubble later on. It’s really all I can do.

5 thoughts on “How Badly am I Screwing up my Children?

  1. A wise person once told me: Every thing is temporary, nothing lasts forever. I suppose it applies to dressers as well.

  2. Hmmm….bears thinking about. Though I must disagree with part of that ‘wisdom.’ With due respect, I think one thing is lasting. I believe love to be enduring. There are people I will always love–my children being at the top of the list. With any luck, they won’t skewer me too badly for the damn dressers!!! And I won’t go (un)invited to the family holidays when they are grown…(fingers crossed)

  3. you can sell my dresser if you want! 🙂 i don’t mind. just kidding… but since i am only a god child you will always be invited to my family holiday events when i grow up… because technically you can’t screw me up, since your not actually my parent. whatever happens to me is my dads fault. 🙂 i think that me and your darling daughter have been minimally screwed up though. i think we are pretty swell. 😉

  4. Laughing out loud…And you could never be ‘only’ anything to me. (See my comment above…you fall into the ‘enduring’ category of people who will always be special to me.) And thanks Punkin.’ I glad to hear you children are ‘minimally’ screwed up. That’s all I can hope for…to be allowed to sit at the table and break bread with you children (at least once in a while…) when you are adults and that you are all happy, well–or ‘pretty swell.’

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