Parenting’s Ten Commandments – Confession of a Grandmother
“Making connections” is one of our focuses in July, and we are pleased to feature “Parenting’s Ten Commandments” from our newsletter archive.
The piece is by Jeanne Darling, a much-appreciated supporter of the BCT. We edited this piece to meet the blog’s requirements.
Parenting’s Ten Commandments
Text by Jeanne Darling
When my siblings and I became parents, my mother sent each of us a copy of a newspaper clipping that hung on her refrigerator.
I brought it to Switzerland when we moved here more than 30 years ago.
It still sits on my fridge door, in the background – much like a mother’s daily tasks: taken for granted and rarely acknowledged.
However, sometimes, it catches my eye. For instance, when I retrieve a carton of juice and the vegetables to cook for dinner. I take a moment to reread it and reground myself. The clipping particularly resonated with me during the pandemic and when my children were little.
Elodie Armstrong wrote it many years ago.
The Ten Commandments:
- Thou shalt not worry, for worry is the most unproductive of all human activities.
- Thou shalt not be fearful, for most things we fear never come to pass.
- Thou shalt not cross bridges before you get to them, for no one yet has succeeded in accomplishing this.
- Thou shalt face each problem as it comes. You can handle only one at a time anyway.
- Thou shalt not take problems to bed with you, for they make very poor bedfellows.
- Thou shalt not borrow other people’s problems. They can take better care of them than you can.
- Thou shalt not try to relive yesterday for good or ill – it is gone. Concentrate on what is happening in your life today.
- Thou shalt not count thy blessings, never overlooking the small ones, for a lot of small blessings add up to a big one.
- Thou shalt be a good listener, for only when you listen do you hear ideas different from your own. It’s very hard to learn something new when you’re talking.
- Thou shalt not become bogged down by frustration, for 90 per cent of it is rooted in self-pity, and it will only interfere with positive action.
Like other commandments, these are higher than I can achieve with regularity.
In other words, I often fall short and find myself wanting.
Nonetheless, an article I read many years ago in Scientific America Mind (it was so long ago that I have lost the reference) gave me hope.
It seems that just giving birth and taking on motherhood changes our brain capacity, primarily in the pre-frontal cortex that regulates our judgement and control. Our brain grows the extra capacity we need. It is one of the reasons we can develop the nurturing qualities needed to care for children.
I was reminded and reassured by the article that we genuinely do grow into motherhood. Becoming a mother is a process, not a fixed state. Hence, regardless of which commandments we follow, we are in the process of “making”.
We will often fall short, but we can learn from our mistakes if we embrace the concept that we are always becoming the mothers we would like to be.
My children are now approaching middle age.
I’m enjoying their children from the outside as a grandmother. Yet, I still do not feel “finished” as a mother. I am catapulted back into my role as a mother, albeit a re-defined one.
I listen, guide, and support them when they share their triumphs and tribulations in dealing with the world. And I feel the responsibility to be a role model for handling the ups and downs of moving forward with our lives.
My children have their worries, and I worry about their worries. Those will never go away. Still, handling them will deepen our resilience and hone our expectations. We can climb out of the inevitable down moments into more contented ones.
The yellowed wrinkled copy of the Ten Commandments passed on to me so many years ago still serves as my beacon. In turn, it is my honour to share with other mothers in the hope that it might support us all in our nurturing of the next generation.
Jeanne Darling is a retired educator, having taught children for over twenty-five years in Basel. She continues working with children, offering “Story Times” workshops at several schools and libraries. She also wrote the children’s illustrated book “Basel’s Hidden Stories”.