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.

Bucket List

13 thoughts on “Truth”

  1. Needed this one today – having a rough one based purely on decisions I’ve made in the last several months as a parent – coming to a head this morning. Let the guilt, questioning, indecision ensue. Ahhh, tomorrow is another day. xo

  2. Yup. Totally true. Doesn’t it make you laugh when people who don’t have kids talk to you about being a parent? It’s like YOU HAVE NO IDEA so go eat some cookies or something.

    How about when you realize that you can’t help passing off some of your personality defects? The stuff you’d rather hide in a closet? That one has been hitting me lately, often. My poor kids.

  3. Wait, what!? We’re NOT supposed to lock them in the basement when we drink? Hmm.

    I think there are more right answers than wrong for all our parenting questions. At the end of the day do they feel safe and loved? They’re not going to like us every day. That has to be okay. I just don’t remember June and Ward Clever agonizing over their choices like we do ours. I waste too much time remaking decisions that are long done. I’m learning to let go. Hoping that makes the therapy bill a little smaller.

  4. Thank you so much for posting this. I get so frustrated sometimes and then I feel SO bad for not enjoying every second. It really IS hard sometimes, and it’s only REALLY good for a sort of small portion of every day. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to admit that sometimes it’s bad, sometimes I wish I was working again, and sometimes I think there is no way I can handle another.

    Speaking of which… how do you do it? How do you find the time and energy and patience for number two or THREE? Sometimes I feel like I am giving all I have to my daughter, and I worry that another child will get less than they should (or my daughter will). I worry about making it work with two or more, and how to maintain my sanity and sense of ME.

  5. Parenthood is a crapshoot, definitely. You could make all the “right” decisions, and something might still go wrong along the way. The only thing we can really do is make sure they’re healthy and sane and hope for the best.

  6. I love this… every person who thinks they want to become a parent should read this. It’s so true.

    I love being a mom, but it is so freakin hard and fraught with indecision and painful choices.

  7. What if we lock them in their rooms? Drink while they run around? Lately there hasn’t been enough liquor in the world. My kids are killing me and I’m probably scaring them for life.

  8. Indeed!

    I have to add that I think one of the most important things we have to teach our children is *forgiveness* and that we are as imperfect as everyone around them, even if our love is unconditional. That way, when they are older and working through the regular identity crises and figuring out who they are in relation to us and the homes they came from etc. they will *forgive us* for any lasting harms we may have imprinted on them. All parents screw up. But all of their children become truly mature adults when they realize it was inevitable.

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