Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Balancing the Parenting Emotions

New York Magazine's article, Why Parents Hate Parenting, has already sparked the blogosphere, and I'm kind of late to the party. Still, given that it comes so soon after my own meltdown about parenting, I think it's helped me find my balance again.

While I can and have readily admitted that parenting is hard, that sometimes it feels like it's sucking the last of my energy, I don't hate parenting. I don't regret anything about my life. Still, loving my life doesn't mean I love every single moment of it.

It would be easy to dismiss these findings that parents are less happy than non-parents as us parents being too self-absorbed and not wanting to make the sacrifices. I don't think this is the case for the majority of parents.

I think most of us want to do our very best, and when we fall short in our own eyes, that's upsetting. Not because we're failing ourselves, but because we're afraid we're failing our children.

My recent breakdown wasn't because I thought my kids were the problem, but because I was. Or I thought I was, I felt I was, whatever. I can't say my parenting has changed dramatically from then to now. It's mostly the same as it ever was: getting up every day, getting some things right and some things wrong. And, maddeningly, knowing that I won't really know the answers for years to come. See, because parenting isn't just about getting them through the day; it's about trying to give them the tools to go out into the world and being able to cope and overcome all the struggles that come their way. It's about hoping that they learn to love their lives the majority of the time. And I really won't know if I've done right by them until it's too late.

I don't know what they've taken away yet. I don't know what lessons have gotten through, and which ones they'll only learn by experiencing their own mistakes. I can see some things I don't like about myself in them and I want them to overcome those better than I have.

It's not that I hate parenting; it's about some of the ways that I parent that I hate.

Yet this article actually helped me. It helped me see that sometimes I get way too caught up in my head. It helped me see that not every moment has to be a teachable one. We can just be now and then.

Every day, through all of it, there have been moments where we simply enjoy each other's company. We laugh together, we sing together, we get silly together. Not a day goes by where we don't tell each other we love each other. No matter how many times we may make each other crazy, no matter how many times others may hurt one of us, we absolutely know we are there for each other. None of us are perfect, but we are unconditionally loved.

And sometimes, when I look into the future, I can see the three of us at some outdoor cafe, laughing and finishing each other's sentences and teasing each other like we do today. I can see us talking politics and Broadway musicals and friendships and loved ones and clothes. I have no doubt in our bond; I know that the three of us will be close forever.

The act of parenting may be hard and maddening and frustrating and test me harder than I ever imagined. Being a part of this family is worth all that and more.


Danielle said...

Good realization. For all of us! Sometimes I think that a parent/child bond is the only "unconditional" bond I will ever have. Just being a part of that should help both of us grow up to be "good people".

Anonymous said...

I really love this post. It struck home a lot. It was really nice to read it, because I needed to "hear" what you just said. Bravo mama!

Blue Shoe Farm said...

Thanks for this-- for my adventure of child-rearing it is good to hear such a grounded "bigger picture" opinion. I will probably read this post of yours again after a trying day!

kathy said...

Such a wonderful blog. It was pleasure reading your blog.

cindy said...

Well, It was really nice to read it, because I needed to "hear" what you just said.

Elizabeth said...

Wonderful -- sometimes the mainstream media gets on my nerves by banging and banging on an issue until it's almost boring. I found your post refreshing --

Vivianne's Vista said...

I congratulate you on expressing exactly how many of us feel. (Well, I should speak for myself!) Parent guilt is so strong and pervasive, it truly is exhausting. Thank you for the reminder that it's better to lighten up more.