Tuesday, May 03, 2011

On Parenting

Once upon a time, I was the perfect parent. I was about 8 weeks pregnant.  I had goals and dreams and techniques all mapped out.  The rules of engagement were in place.  Then I actually gave birth.  Erika was a very easy baby once we got past 4 months of screaming colic.  As a young toddler, she was very easily occupied and corrected-thank goodness because we had another before she even reached toddler status.  Alas, another 4 months of colic until another happy baby.  Two children now.  Trained very early in how not to be abducted (my biggest fear then).  Both children were fairly easily corrected.  Loved each other...VERY different.  Both wildly creative-one with drawings, the other with stories and "pwojecs".  It was pretty easy.  I felt like a wonderful intentional mom.  I felt at the top of my game.

When Erika was 4 and Kayla was 3, we downsized to a smaller house to try and whittle our debt back and live a bit simpler.  We left suburbia for a bit more countrified suburbia.  As soon as the last coat of paint dried on the house, I discovered I was pregnant.  The last of three very unplanned but much loved pregnancies.  (Okay, not initially loved...but eventually loved.)  Yes, you read that right, we are not planned parenthood members.  ~grin~

I still felt pretty good about my parenting skills until Lilly turned about 2.  I'm not really sure when I lost all the 'rules for engagement' I had in place for raising my children.  But I have officially lost them all.  At this stage in life, I really want to be a really good mom and I think in some ways I definitely am.  In other ways...I am overwhelmed.  Parenting advice runs rampant and people are very free with it.  Parental superiority and judgement is even more freely flowing.  Since I come from such a dysctional (I left out the 'fun' because it wasn't!) home, I have always plugged in and listened to every kernel of parenting wisdom that has ever been uttered in my presence.  The result???  Most every issue has been dealt with by most every parent and USUALLY in a completely different way.  The verdict of whether or not that was the 'right' way to deal with it is usually determined by whether or not the kid 'turned out OK'.  This blows me away because I TURNED OUT OK.  I won't go into all the ways I was not parented adequately...let's just say that I wasn't and leave it at that.  I also know others like me who also 'turned out'.   In addition to that, I saw some amazing parents up close and very personal have kids that we are all still hoping will 'turn out in the end'.

I am now completely overwhelmed with a surplus of information and confused by what gets you to 'good parent' status.  There is not a parenting book I have not read at least once. (Okay, that was hyperbole...but I have read alot...like probably 75 through the years.) Some of them were read and notes were taken to make sure it seeped in.  I have done parenting Bible studies.  I have done character trait Bible studies with my children. If parenting could be mastered through book study, I would be a master.  I have lots of knowledge and no clue as to how to implement that knowledge.  I have no role models because I am only seeing 'public' parenting which is different than what is done in private.  I do find myself parenting somewhat like my own parents in times of stress which FREAKS ME OUT. 

My ultimate goal is not exactly that my kids will think I am the greatest parent ever...but that they will be good hearted grown-ups that know they are loved.  That they won't think of parenting as a contest, but as a loving journey to wholeness.

I don't always know what to do and it kills me.  I get scared to death that I am messing up.  It steals my serenity.  Makes me cry.  I feel so woefully inadequate and yet I know God meant for me to do this.  I'd ask for advice, but I don't want any.  There is probably no way I can parent LIKE you...it is doubtful that I am like you so it won't do me any good to try.  I am firmly convinced this is one of those times I have to chisel my own path through the mountain.  Encouragement is always appreciated. Not kicking me when I am down is always a nice response as well.

Now I am off of here...I am going to read a new book I just got in the mail...Parenting Without Regrets.  Fingers crossed that THIS BOOK is THE ONE.  ~guilty, hopeful grin~


Sara said...

You are raising children who need a Savior. If you were the perfect parent raising the perfect children, you'd be tempted to steal God's glory. As it is, His grace is enough.

Hula Girl at Heart said...

When I'm with first time parents right after the birth of their newborn, I can't help but smile to myself and think, "These people don't have a clue what they're in for."

Lighten up on yourself. You're a great parent.

Ami said...

My parenting goal is to try to do better than my own parents did.

And that was their goal, too. And no matter what mistakes were made, things turned out okay.

We all just do the best we can.