Sunday, November 12, 2017

on parenting


Remember when you thought you had it all figured out? When you were sure that the future is bright? When you knew all the answers, and knew which path to follow? When all you had to do was wait for your life to start?

That seems like a million years ago. The older I get, the older the kids get, the less I feel like I know, or there is less that I know with certainty, that I can dispense as age-old wisdom.

I got the basics because they do not change. We swing in our norms one way and then the other, the parenting magazines and articles will list a brand-new technique, but, chances are, it was already empolyed and we know the results.

The basics are: you cannot hold your children too much. They will always crave your arms, crave your touch, crave a physical knowledge that they matter more than anything else. You cannot spoil them like that. They cannot be too old. The touch with change, the lap will grow smaller as their bodies grow bigger, but it is always needed, like air.

They want to know that they are loved unconditionally, whether they are good or bad, whether their actions are good or bad, whether they make you happy or not, whether everyone approves of what they do, or not. They will try very hard to be unloveable, to break your heart, and then break it again and again, in hopes of proving to themselves that they are not worthy of love. And you, as a parent, will be left to pick up the pieces and tell them that they matter, that you still love them, that you will not give up on them, because it's your job to make them feel whole and worthy of your love.

And then there is time. The children will remember the time that you took from a million more important, more worthy things just to be with them. My kids fondly recall an insane Starbucks Frappucino drive-through run that happened less than half an hour before Shabbos. It was not the most menaingful or stress-free activity, but it was fun and it clearly put them first. I try so hard to make time just to sit on the couch and see what develops. Usually it's books and cuddles, sometimes it's conversations, or games, but I hope they remember the importance of just sitting together without agenda, without productivity, just because they are my kids and I love them and I show that love by spending time with them.

Everything else is so murky. Bedtimes? Discipline? Sibling conflicts? Mess? Nutrition? I don't know if there is one way to do it right, but if there are tears from all involved, it is probably wrong. What was right for this kid does not always translate to that kid.

So I don't think I will ever have this parenting thing figured out. I envy parenting gurus, dispensing advice, like they have walked in my shoes, lived my life, dealt with my kids and their unique circumstances.

So you do you, as you do every day. Throw out the parenting advice and follow your mommy heart.

One Momma to Another

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