Ever question your parenting? You should. Now, don’t go freaking out on me, wringing your hands, and running for the closest parenting book. I have a few confessions to make. These moments are brought to you by me, my husband Matt, and our lovely children. Don’t stress…it will all be okay in the end. From the movie The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, “Everything will be alright in the end. If it is not alright, it is not yet the end.” Also, these moments will help you to judge me instead of yourself. I do what I can for you.
My first confession to you is that I do not like parenting books at all. This is funny to me. I’ve still bought lots of them. If you need any, you should come over here. I’m never going to read them. Seriously, you should just take them.
Last night we went around the table and did our best a Capella sounds. I’m not really the winner here. I was a little impressed by the rest of them. I even had a hopeful Von Trapp a Capella moment. Then I realized how loud we all were. And we were getting louder. We were all making a lot of noise competing with each other. And then I knew we probably would not make a good family singing group. Probably.
Once, I made my oldest go to the bathroom alone at night at Big Bend National Park. She was 12 years old for crying out loud! Plus it was 30 degrees, we were warm and cozy in our bags, and our tent was not very far from the bathroom. She thought we were horrible. I told her just to pee outside the tent, but she wouldn’t so there. She went. The next week there was a story in the news about a young boy who was attacked by a mountain lion at Big Bend National Park. She saw the story. We shriveled. Questionable parenting moment. She hasn’t let us live that one down. I told her that I was just trying to empower her at the time. 🙂
One time I fed my child cereal with ants in it. She liked it. And she was aware. She was following my lead. We really wanted that cereal. We didn’t taste the ants, people.
A certain child of ours who will remain unnamed has a teacher that she is certain sounds like the annoying teacher on Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. She said it’s hard for her to take this teacher seriously. Matt told her to go up to the teacher and congratulate her on her performance. This daughter said, “DAD! No, I would get detention or something.” He said, “It might be worth it.”
Several of the rules I have made in my parenting life involve not licking. Don’t lick the bathroom floor. Don’t lick the bathtub toys. Don’t lick your sister just to make her mad. Don’t lick the counter. For heaven’s sake don’t lick the trampoline. Don’t you just want to grab your hair with your hands sometimes and scream, “WHHHYYYYY?” But, most of the time, I don’t even blink. I just say, “Um, we do not lick the bathroom floor. Period. Thank you for your cooperation.”
One of my older girls recently told us about a friend who is no longer a friend to her. I had some nasty words running through my mind because of the hurt my girl experienced that day. I knew just what I would say to that friend-no-more, but it was PG-13. So, I zipped my lips and let Matt handle it.
We have another child who frequently arrives places with no shoes. She’s not a little tiny girl. She should know better. I’m sure it’s my fault. When we arrived at the movie theater the other day, she burst out crying like she was hurt. She wouldn’t tell us anything. She just cried and cried. Eventually all five of us including a friend who came were all yelling at her to tell us what the problem is. I love those moments. She forgot her shoes. Again.
We have shoe problems. When my oldest was still in elementary, we realized one morning right when we were about to be tardy and needing to run out the door that she left her shoes at her Nana’s ranch. Ugh. I made her wear my shoes which were slightly too big at the time. There were no other options. She will still never forget the day she wore clown shoes to school. I hate to admit it, but I love the clown shoes story. They were really big. Poor thing.
Your questions (I know from experience) are unending as a parent. What are they thinking? What were they thinking? How do they come up with this stuff? What movies should they watch? Does it matter? We all sing Jimmy Buffet together…is that okay? Am I a good parent? Can I do this?
Oh, my and then the feelings. They have lots of feelings. I have taught them so well to articulate them. Dad-blame social worker mom. They infuriate you. They delight you. They disrespect you. They bless you. You love them. You want to be with them. You want them to go away. Don’t worry. They have the same feelings about you.
In the end, I’m not in control. I know that now. I used to have so many plans…perfect ones. Now, I hold them loosely…these plans. Now, don’t you think that means that I don’t take control when I need to. Dude, I’m still the mom. It’s just that the last 13 years and especially this last year, the reality of imperfection did a big zoom-in for me. I really saw the children. I saw them see me too. Those first few weeks after my mom passed and they found me weeping on the kitchen floor or in the office or in my room. They watched and hurt with me. I nodded to them communicating: Still your mom…just broken a little. They would nod back. We were all so bare and human together. And in those moments I held them tight, but my fists loosened the grip on mom expectations. I’ll never be perfect. I might cuss sometimes (shhh). I
might will most definitely blow it with them. I will have moments when I question everything.
But, I will hold them. I will love them. I will push them to work hard, be kind, and engage their gifts. I will feed them, and kiss them and get them bandaids. I will talk to them about mistakes and I will lead them to grace. I’ll know them and they will know me. And then I will help them begin their questions, and be okay with that too.
So, question your parenting. But don’t let it be about just you. We have bigger fish to fry than our parenting egos. Review every once in awhile. Set some goals if you need to. Okay, go ahead and read that parenting book if it helps you. But get the whole picture. See them in front of you. Let them see you. And then hold them tight and loose all at the same time.