Teetering on the edge of good parenting

Raising children can be complicated. I mean, if it weren’t you and I and everyone else would be completely well rounded, emotionally balanced individuals and the world of marriage and family counseling would be unnecessary. But it is. It’s complicated. 


And it’s hard. Hard to figure out when your next move, or your last one, may be the tiny misstep that sends your offspring ricocheting through the remainder of their lives…trying to undo what you’ve done. 


Thankfully, as my mom says, they’re pretty hard to kill unless you’re actually trying. And for the most part, they are incredibly resilient. This is especially good news to me, as the past two years of our lives have been…rather intense. Somewhat unstable. Traumatizing, even. And it’s not over yet. In fact, we’re still all up in it. 


I read sweet and sincere blog letters written to encourage young mothers to soak up every.single.moment. of their time with the children with whom they are entrusted. Don’t waste a second of it, because before you know it, it will be gone. The dirty laundry, the carpet stains, the non-washable ink all over the walls…yes, even that will someday fade away and you will be left wondering if you did it all well enough. 


These articles are usually beautifully written and I’d say most always very well intended. I’m not sure I know if anyone who has been on the receiving end has ever walked away without choked back tears and a deep seated resolution to be a better parent. Do a better job. Not screw it all up and look back in 15 years with regrets.


The truth is that we need these little pushes in the direction of purposeful living. Parenting like we mean it. If no one ever looked us in the eye and told us that one day we’d miss it – all of it – there is a fairly good chance that we would slip into bad habits of wishing it all away.


On the other hand, we’re kind of torturing ourselves. With all of this technology at our fingertips, all day – every day, it isn’t just that one poignant conversation with your parents, or sweet older neighbor, or any other person that cares enough to point it out to you. Now we are incessantly faced with a barrage of well written you-could-be-doing-better guilt trips. 


As parents, we are cornered constantly by the good intentions of others. We are reminded that now is our chance – change the world this one little family at a time. Don’t screw it up. Do it all better and with confidence, and for heaven’s sake don’t ever tell your son that if he refuses to leave the beach with you when it’s time to go home, that he would be all alone with the coyotes he’s so terrified of. (sheepish look away from your eye contact…hey…we all make mistakes.) 


But, like I mentioned, this stuff is hard. It sure isn’t for wimps. Some times we just have to do the best we can in the moment. Hopefully we will remember that actually watching TV with our kids, instead of playing on FB or blogging about our day, means a lot to a little human. That it builds common interest and whispers that we like what they like. We like them. 


Maybe when our kids want us to build a Lego tower with them, we put aside our whatever and soak up that moment instead of flipping out that we can’t actually see the floor due to the incredible amount of teeny tiny plastic cubes all over it. But what happens if we don’t? What about those moments when we just epically fail? 


My husband and I like to watch a show called Psych, in which the main character struggles constantly with how his father raised him. The dad, in an attempt to build strong character and problem solving skills in his young son, incessantly challenges him to do better and be better. After one flash back the other night, I looked at Matt and jokingly asked if we do that to our kids. He laughed and said “Neh.” 


But really, we won’t know for a long time – if ever. We try to make good decisions based on current circumstances and knowledge, and hope that our best intentions are good enough. I’m not saying that I disagree with any of these musings and pleas for good and present parenting. I’m just saying that maybe we should limit how often we read them. 


Let’s just do the best we can and trust that our good intentions will bridge the Gap. After all, we’ll need all that mental energy someday to write the next generation of essays encouraging new parents to do it better than we did. 😉 




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