Parenthood is not easy. Did you know that? I mean, I hope I’m not ruining anything for you if you were under the impression that it’s all cute giggles and sloppy kisses all the time. But it’s not even that wonderful half of the time. I’d say, maybe, one third of the time it’s cute and sweet. The rest of the time? Disgusting. And painful. And also very difficult and complicated.
You constantly find yourself wondering what kind of effect your current decisions will have on their adult development. Are you teaching them manners and respect? Or are you squashing their creativity and personality? You can argue two sides of any decision. ANY DECISION. You will constantly find yourself seeing it from two points on opposite ends of the spectrum and you’ll never be 100% positive that the decision you make will be the best. Many times you’ll have a gut instinct and you’ll trust that because it feels right. But most of time? There won’t be a gut instinct. You’ll be flying blind.
You’ll go to your friends, your family, and god forbid: THE INTERNET. You’ll see/hear/read arguments for all sides of all decisions because THERE ARE NO RIGHT ANSWERS. Every parent is different. Every kid is different. Every situation has variables that make it unique and therefore different from other examples you may want to count on for supporting the decisions you make. You’ll take in all the information you can, weigh any instincts you feel, and then you’ll jump. And after all of that? Sometimes you’ll change your mind after seeing your decision in action. And the next time you jump? You’ll try something different. That may or may not work.
And other times you’ll just act in the moment. You may not have time to think or ask or research. You’ll just act immediately. If you’re lucky – that moment will pass without regret. Unfortunately, many times you’ll look back at a decision made on the fly and you’ll want to punch yourself for that decision. These are the rough moments that you’ll find yourself keeping in some part of your mind reserved for the clearest of memories. You’ll learn that the bad parenting decisions you make will be saved in your memory with a sharp clarity none of your sentimental memories will have. That one time you spanked your child and then regretted it 2.2 seconds later? That moment will stay more clear in your memory than any birthdays or graduations or sporting events. And you’ll constantly be amazed at how truly unfair this is.
So you’ll wonder…
Should I make him each his vegetables or feed him chicken nuggets every night?
Do I need to force a bedtime?
Should I let her sleep with us when she says she’s scared?
What kind of extracurricular activities should I encourage? How many?
There are just no rights or wrongs. Every parent knows a story about a kid who was raised one way and turned out bad and another kid raised the same way who claims it’s why they’re perfect. There are examples and research supporting just about every decision except for: Should I lock my kid in the basement and get drunk after a bad day? Most everyone agrees that is bad. Go figure.
So you do your best…one moment at a time. You learn valuable lessons and make mistakes you hope to only make once. And then you just hope some more. Hope that even if you screw them up somehow, they just won’t hate you too much for it. Or if they do, that they’ll find a good therapist to help them through it enough to make them able to at least visit you at Christmas. If you promise not to write about it on your blog.