Over the course of my 6.5 years as a mom I have had two strikingly ambivalent moments where I was simultaneously concerned about and proud of my parenting (incidentally, both occurred during pretty trying times). The first was during a kitchen dance party when my then 18-month old daughter was caught dancing on the table to a Hank Williams Jr. tune, wearing nothing but a cowboy hat. I often joke that this was the moment when I realized I should not be in charge of raising a child, but it is truthfully also when I knew that we were going to be just fine.
The second occurred more recently when I broached the topic of my diagnosis with my daughter. I didn't want to scare her by talking directly about cancer so opted for a frank discussion about my surgery. I told her that I was taking this approach to avoid being in the same situation as my mom, so that I could live a nice long life. She put on a teary-eyed brave face and listened attentively to all the details and asked good questions about the surgery and about our lives in relation to it. I gave her honest answers and I let her have some control over the situation by asking her to decide whether she wanted to tell any of her friends (she didn't) and whether we should keep our nonchalant attitude about nakedness since she may catch a glimpse of my scars (she didn't think so).
And, after a bit more pondering she said, "Boobs do not make a mom"--a statement so sophisticated and astute that it made me question whether I was speaking with a child. It seems that I may have pushed my daughter into some kind of pseudo-adulthood by trying to raise her to be responsible, independent, and a critical thinker. Although I definitely appreciate her maturity (especially right now), I may need to bust out the Hank Williams Jr., host a kitchen dance party, and bring a bit of her childhood back.