Parenting 101

February 3, 2012 § 11 Comments

With kids, parenting choices are made every second of every day.

Each night I wonder if I fed my mini me’s healthily enough or if I allowed too much sugar. Every second that they sit in front of the t.v. I question what they are watching and for how long it’s been. Is it okay that I let Grace go to school today wearing her favorite owl sweater that is much too small?

How about the way I reacted when they were crawling on the ground like babies, on the dirty floor of the pre-school hallway? Instead of yelling or attempting to get their forty pound bodies up off the floor (which would have led to writhing and laughing at me), I told them there would be no more driving though Starbucks for birthday cake pops. Bribery with those made for little girl birthday pops; pink frosting over cake with sprinkles on a stick! Should I ever have taken them to Starbucks for birthday cake pops to begin with? Wasn’t I just instilling that backward behavior where food is a prize, a treat for having such a good day?

I wonder how (much) the decisions I make for them now will determine the kinds of people they will be.

Am I fooling myself into thinking that I have that much control? Once the world gets a hold of us, isn’t that what determines our future and regardless of our upbringing, don’t we turn out to be who we are supposed to be anyway?

I am reminded of a great book I read called The Glass Castle. It’s author, a woman named   Jeanette Walls (who’s also a pretty famous celebrity journalist) was raised by parents who did practically zero in the parenting department. The book documents her experiences, like how the children stayed dry when trying to sleep under a leaky roof and how they didn’t die of starvation when the folks spent all the food money on alcohol. The kids had to figure out a system for living a life with parents, sans parenting. And they did, though in the end Ms. Walls turned out to have a productive life while her sister did not. So whose fault was that? Why does one child succeed despite poor parenting, while another falters and either repeats the same mistakes or make brand spanking new ones?

Once I had come through the other side of the haze called my teens and early twenties, I could see that my own mom had done the absolute best job she could have (especially considering she was a young widow with three children to raise on her own). I made lots of bad decisions along the way, tried stuff  that I hope my girls never do, but it wasn’t because of my parents. It was me and my need for pushing the envelope, for finding my own way, because I was/am stubborn and house a bit of a rebel inside my heart. It’s a beautiful day when we realize that our parents are real human people and that’s when our relationships change and we are allowed to become friends. But it only happens after the world has had its chance to tempt us, to shake us up and see how we land. Those of us who land on our feet (and choose to want to be friends) benefit from the new relationships with our parents. Others never have the opportunity or just never learn.

All I can do is continue to build a foundation for my kids that will hopefully be their armour against the world when I’m not around to protect them. I must continue to trust my gut and hope that les girlies turn out to be productive and good people, who are kind and fair. I fully expect the day will come, though, when the world grabs hold of them and I’m sure I’ll have some explaining to do. I hope they come to me to work it out.

And as the questions get harder, my approach will be to tell the truth, since I believe in it wholeheartedly. Because the truth is that I am exactly who I am despite or in spite of what my parents ever did, and my kids will be who they are supposed to be despite or in spite of what their father and I choose for them.

Parenting is darned hard and getting harder everyday.

It’s hard, but it’s joyous, and my fingers are tightly crossed that we all survive!

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§ 11 Responses to Parenting 101

  • auntieket says:

    The toughest job you’ll ever love.<3

  • kim says:

    Loving the blog! Love this post! You are an excellent mama 🙂
    Thought of you today when I donned my mom clothes for preschool drop off…lulu is my Friday uniform…and I might get a walk in with the stroller if I am lucky! Is that wrong, to sport the lulu even if there are no sports involved?

    • Running in Mommyland says:

      You are an excellent mama!!!!!! Lulu is fab, I know, it’s just when I get out of my (tight) LLL after a run, all I want are cozy clothes that make me look like a college student! Here’s to hoodies! xo

  • Amy says:

    I don’t even have kids yet and I already stress out about some of the stuff you talked about (is it bad to bribe? Should I delay video games as much as possible? etc. etc.). I think the very fact that you are worrying about it and wanting to do everything right for your (very adorable) little girls means you are probably doing a great job!

    And I think how children are raised very much determines not necessarily who they will become, but the way they view the world and the way they handle situations. I see this more and more with people I’ve grown up with. (BUT I’m not speaking from any experience except observation!).

    • Running in Mommyland says:

      It’s funny because as they get older they are so much more challenging which leads to serious questioning about the job you do.

      I spoke with a grandmother on the playground today and she said no matter the type of parent a person has (strict, easy going, etc.), as long as the kids feel truly cared about, then a parent has done their your job.

      By the way, regarding the bribing thing, some people think it’s bad, but a good friend of mine calls it “motivating” or giving motivators,” which somehow makes it better! We haven’t hit the video game stage, but as soon as they started watching Disney instead of pre-school nick jr. they couldn’t stop saying words like shut up and stupid. I couldn’t believe it! Disney used to be all sweet and nice! Not anymore…..

  • Laura says:

    It’s so hard, isn’t it? In some ways, things got so much easier after we made it through the newborn phase, but now that we’re in the tantrum two’s I’m realizing what a tough job we have! I agree, all we can do is our best, and some of that includes letting them deal with some frustration and disappointment along the way… I’m not looking forward to sending her off to school and really “letting go”, but I guess we work up to that point!

  • Happy Fit Mama says:

    I never realized being a parent would be so hard! It really is the toughest job you’ll ever love. I’m always questioning if I am doing the right thing and what I could be doing better. I also find a new and greater appreciation for my own parents everyday!

  • K.Smitty says:

    I second what others have said…what an awesome post. I also don’t have kids yet but often worry about the same things. I have a girl I work with who has 2 daughters, 2 and 4, and she often talks about this stuff too and it’s made me realize you just have to pick your battles. There may always be someone who looks at you crosseyed and questions your parenting decisions, but they don’t live in your house and they don’t know your kids. From everything you post on here, you sound like a great mom and I hope I will be (someday) too!

  • I really love this post. You so clearly articulate so many of the challenges, questions, hesitations, etc. that we all feel as parents. I hope that I’m giving them a good foundation but I constantly second guess my words/actions and worry all the time that I’m not a good enough mother or think about what I could be doing better or differently. I think we all do. We’re also raising our kids in such a different time compared to our parents. I know that in our neighborhood, other parents don’t think twice about criticizing your parenting style or the battles that you are choosing to fight vs. let go (i.e. give the kid a lollipop to make them stop screaming and sit in the stroller because you have to go pick up your older child from school). Also loved The Glass Castle. What a remarkable book.

    Also, I hope you don’t mind but I’ve “tagged” you in my 11 Random Things post (http://lovelifesurf.blogspot.com/2012/02/11-random-things.html).

  • Tammy says:

    I love what you said in the paragraph about coming out of the haze….and our relationships with our parents!! So true!!

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