As a mother... I made mistakes. I bumbled and fumbled and fell flat on my face. I made so many mistakes I lost count. I did things I shouldn't have and I did things I regret. I didn't do things I should have and I sometimes wish I could do it all over differently.
At age 59, I am probably still failing miserably as a mother, a grandmother, and a great grandmother. I don't think I was a bad mother... just not a good one. (I also wish I had been a better daughter.)
The only way I have been able to work through (and past) this massive mountain of guilt and regret is to just accept it. I have to straighten my posture, lift my chin, and move on... and pray my children can do the same and forgive me in the process.
In retrospect, I wish I had waited to have children until I was older and wiser so they might have not been raised by people who were themselves in the process of growing up. Sadly, I am not sure the required levels of maturity would ever have been attained. Do not get me wrong... I am NOT sorry for my children. I do love them... I just wish me and the world had done better for them. A manual or a handbook would have been nice!
I would have been happy with a decent support group! Reading Our Bodies, Ourselves and sporadic (often inaccurate) advice from equally immature friends was my only real source of information during my first pregnancy. Resources (or at least knowledge of) were scarce.
There is something to be said for the benefits of living in small villages. Extended families and friends help with care and advice. These qualities have long gone from our culture. We have spent the last few hundred years eradicating the concept of community. We are now left to fend for ourselves... and fail in the process.
Fortunately... with modern technology providing information and communication through the internet... resources for young mothers are easier to find.
This may surprise you but... you know what one of my biggest regrets is? Photographs! I was/am a photographer and I did take a lot of pictures every chance I got. BUT... I was recently going through some boxes of old pictures and I realized something that made me cry. I have a rare few of me with my children! I have one or two holding each as a baby, and a couple with the three of us together, (a few are here) but little else. In the age before small cameras and daily 'selfies,' I was always the one behind the camera. I dearly wish I had sought the help of others more often to take pictures of me with my son and daughter. Perhaps I might have been a better mother if I could have put myself with them instead of hiding behind a camera.
James, Sarah, Athena, Forest, Dimitri: I am sorry!
With love from Mom/Nana/GraNana