Parenting is really hard. And we’re all doing a really good job.
Love it when the chickens and the magpies play together.
I went back to see Hottie Healer last week. The good news is small amounts of dairy and fruit are now OK. The bad news is that eggs and sauerkraut are now not. But, I already knew this due to my recent PhD in internetresearchology. And really, it’s all good. It’s all starting to make sense. It’s all about healing my gut, rebalancing my flora, and it’s working (plus I’ve been eating small bowls of yogurt and applesauce feeling like the fucking queen of Tupperware Heights), and no one has taken away my coffee yet, so there’s that.
After HH does her cryptic magic, testing me for foods and supplements, uncannily nailing the secret particulars of my insides, she looks into emotional blockages to healing.
“I’m picking up a little stress.” She continues to test me. “Hmm, you’re taking care of others, worrying about their well-being. Does that sound right?”
Later, I told my friend Sue this and we laughed, because, hello…motherhood!. Any parent knows, soon as your newborn squints up at you all cross-eyed and utterly helpless, your heart pounds with fierce devotion followed by maybe the smallest bit of concern about those weird googly eyes. Which is to say, motherhood is like submerging yourself in an ocean: vast waters of boundless love inextricably and forever salted by your own fears. While baby Jesus was visited shortly after birth by three wise men acknowledging his greatness, the rest of us were visited by nurses whispering of hepatitis vaccines, car seat regulations, and newborn screening tests.
The early morning ice-scraping team.
Meeting my children was like discovering a new heart muscle, one that swelled not with blood, but with pure unconditional love, except for the one eensy condition that I protect them from all harm, chokables, phthalates, bullies, vaccine injury and the diseases vaccines protect against. I remember walking on the swinging bridge over the Animas river with baby Col sleeping in his little sling-pouch, feeling dizzily certain that only if I walked very fast and summoned all my mental powers would we cross to safety without Col flinging his little body into the water below.
When Col began walking I was at first relieved that he was no longer mopping every public floor with his crawling knees, until, like a very small swami, he began summoning every thundering car, rabid dog and toxic puddle to his 24-pound, very fast, person.
Fears change. Our electrical outlet condoms have long been removed; the kids eat plump, whole grapes without me even watching. Now, I worry about the complicated swirl of emotions that sweep in and out of their tiny bodies, like storms, like typhoons, like tsunamis. And I worry about my response to these emotions. I worry that Col’s tooth has been loose for six months, that when Rose is old enough, she’ll wear cheap cosmetics lousy with parabens.
For this stress of “worrying about others,” I was prescribed: discernment over what truly needs worrying about.
Isn’t that beautiful?
I get to choose.
I’ve been practicing.
Rose, lifted and carried by four young gentlemen.
So, when Rose conducts evangelically fervent modern-day trading posts with her friends, “I’ll trade you two lip balms for three rings, one necklace and five stickers. Okay? Okay?” maybe I needn’t worry that she’ll be at the helm of some dubious MLM scheme someday. Also, Col’s current anxiety-caused narcolepsy over doing math that he’s perfectly capable of doesn’t mean that he’ll be the next Will Hunting, cleaning toilets for a living when he’s actually an unrecognized genius. Also, I’m pretty sure that when Col and Rose get together for Thanksgiving as adults, he won’t shoot rubber bands into her gleaming turkey, and she’ll have no need to communicate with the pincers of her thumb and pointer finger. Which is to say, everyone is ultimately going to be okay. Really. Really.
The power of heating an 800 sf house with passive solar in the southwest = sundresses in December with no heat on.
Yesterday I came home from an ecstatic cross-country ski to Dan mediating the latest version of a sibling battle so repetitive and predictable, it’s like Col and Rose are actors in the worst reality TV show ever, directed by someone who doesn’t believe in character development. The huge bummer is it involves biting (occasionally, pinching), then horrified, surprised tears. And, there is no clear victim. We’ve discussed it in family meetings. We’ve identified pathways to change the pattern. Each kid has vowed to do their part to de-escalate and avoid violence. In the hot, panicky moment though, nothing has worked.
Coming home refreshed, I stepped in as relief pitcher, spelling Dan on the mound of obligatory post-fight mediation. Afterwards, everyone went their separate and solitary ways. An hour later, Col and Rose found each other like happy, playful puppies on the couch. And while my nervous system was still decelerating, the kids’ short term memory had been completely wiped clean.
After I got the kids to bed, I resisted the usual post-bedtime debrief in which Dan and I dissect and analyze and generally devote more energy to the most energy-sucking parts of our day. I climbed into bed and said, “Parenting is really hard. We do a really good job.” We hugged and didn’t say another word about it.
I think that’s the discernment she’s talking about.
Rose’s homeschool co-op’s Random Acts of Kindness Advent Calendar: give a hug, give thanks, pick up litter, do something without being asked.
PS: Incidentally, after writing this, I got some advice from the parenting dream team about Col and Rose’s repetitive fight pattern. I am blooming with new understanding and skills. Which is to say, discernment doesn’t mean neglect, it doesn’t mean suffering alone, or giving up on challenging patterns. I believe in seeking help. I also believe in not over-thinking, in cutting ourselves some slack. And I also know that parenting is really hard, and we’re all doing a really good job.