Monday, April 04, 2016

Parenting to Enough

I have an admission to make, and it's going to sound bad or judgemental but it is not intended to.

I don't read parenting books. I don't read parenting articles. None of it. 

I stopped short about 6 weeks into parenthood. Firstly because I was exhausted and susceptible to every type of paranoia out there about every possible thing that could be going wrong with what I'm doing. Who needs that kind on pressure on top of being wholly responsible for a person OUTSIDE your own body for the first time? But then, a few weeks later, it was because basically none of it applied, and I had a host of other reading and learning to get done that was more critical.

My initial logic (most likely flawed) was...well, lots of people have done it without the experts telling them what to do because there were fewer communication vehicles, and I'm pretty well educated AND have common sense. I can do this. Also, my kid is not a type.

For Connor, this turned out to be a really good thing, because letting go of all that reading, that pressure to be perfect and help him/nurture him into perfection would have been an Herculean effort with little return.  

Then, when it came to the other boys, I just leaned on the "our family is different, so we can't..." as my excuse. Yes, it's an excuse. To be the best at anything, there's the combination of natural talent and study. I was a good student, and would usually put in the effort to become fluent in something. Enough work to play basketball well. Enough work to dance well enough to be cast in a musical. Enough work to be near the top of my class, but not the very, very top.  Enough.

I feel now like a lot of parenting is getting to enough. I do enough that they keep growing, physically and emotionally. Life is not perfect, and it can't be. You can joke about the Disney Princesses perfect lives, who sang with the animals, and that those same animals helped those princesses...but remember - Cinderella was enslaved by her stepmother and Snow White had to run away so that her stepmother would think she was dead. So....emotionally speaking, what the HELL? I'd rather have a choppy, disjointed, love-them-one-minute-hate-them-the-next relationship with my kids, because it's natural. More so than anthropomorphizing animals to entertain children (and make them terrified of step-mothers). It's natural to have feelings, and to be overwhelmed at times. I don't TELL them that. They know when I am annoyed, or mad, or even seething. Usually, I have to get to seething before they care. They're kids. OF COURSE. I remember when I was probably 9 years old, and my mother had reached her limit (or so it seemed to me) at the war-zone condition of my bedroom. She very dramatically beat her fists on the wall and possibly even threatened to remove everything on the floor and throw it away. She wailed. Full on wailing. I was terrified. I'd never once seen her lose her cool like that, and felt terrible that I had caused it.

I'm still a slob, but less so. It's been 34 years or so since that happens and I can still see her in the hallway outside my room, and then the little flowers on the wallpaper in my room as I sat in there after she was done, crying and hoping that my mom still loved me. (There was a lot of drama going on that night, as it turns out.)

It's examples from my past that I try to channel as a parent. And if my kids' doctor says to me, "I think you should read up on these things..." I will. But until that, I'm going to do my best with the tools I was born with, or those I can construct without Youtube instructional videos.