Parenting is hard. In my opinion parenting is one of the best and worst things that anyone can go through. You have these amazing highs and then you have these amazing lows, and they can happen within mere seconds of each other.
There is this idea before becoming a parent that you will be able to handle the stress, and the complications, and no matter what happens you will always love your child. And all of this is pretty accurate. What you don’t realize is that there will be this terrible, horrible guilt that will constantly plague you. Why?
Because you will forever and always feel that you are doing everything wrong.
Because of the worry that something you are doing will forever impact your child’s life in a profoundly negative way.
Because of the need, the almost overwhelming instinct, to take away their pain, both the pain they experience now and the pain of the future; like the pain of bullies, of broken hearts, of not being good enough in someone’s eyes. Those pains that have never even happened yet.
My husband and I were married for six years before we decided to try for a child. We weren’t even sure we wanted to have a child; not sure if bringing a human being into this messed up world was a good decision. There was and is so much terribleness in the world, and we wondered if it would be fair to bring someone, knowingly, into the screwed up situation.
I remember at the time, I was talking with one of my co-workers who had two children of his own. His children were(are) adults and they were(are) fairly successful and normal human beings. He told me, as I was wondering in the wandering way I do, that my husband and I should have a child because we would raise a conscientious, kind child in a world of hate and terribleness. He explained that the world needs children who are raised by smart, loving adults because those children, in turn, would become smart and loving adults.
I liked the argument at the time and thought there was something to his point of view.
I question it now.
I look at my son and worry. Constantly. Hopefully only a fraction of my worry is apparent to him, because if any more is, oh boy is he going to need some therapy.
Seriously, I worry, because as the years have gone by I have realized that sometimes it just doesn’t matter what the parent does. We can be intelligent, loving and kind parents, and we might raise someone who will be addicted to heroine and steals for a living. We might help him through the rough patches in life (as much as we are able) and provide a loving home for him always and forever… he might still hate us and never want to come back to that loving home. There are so many negative outcomes, so many pitfalls facing my son as he gets older, and we, as the loving and kind parents, seem to have such a very small influence.
I am a reasonably smart individual, and I know that stressing and worrying about the future pitfalls he faces is not going to help the situation; so, instead I worry about the current pitfalls. Am I helping him enough with his speech issues (he has problems saying ‘k,’ ‘l,’ and ‘f’ correctly), or should I be doing more? Is there more that I should be doing for his reading? His counting? Am I obsessing so much that I am causing a psychosis in him?
Because here’s the thing: I KNOW I have a myriad of psychosis, obviously if you have read anything that I’ve written over the last week, but hell no do I want those psychosis to move on to my child. Not everything is going to be rainbows and happiness all the time, obviously, but if I could somehow create a barrier between my psycho self and his fragile being, I would sleep better at night.
Where is the line? Where is the balance?
And of course, where is that point where social standards start influencing me as the parent? Where do my instincts come in? Do I even know what is good and what is bad for him? Does his teacher? Does his peers?
And I suppose that is where it is, because there is no answer but to do the best you can do and hope it doesn’t keep you up too much at night.
One step in front of another.
Pitfalls as they come.
And not lose sight of what is actually good for this little man who sits next to me on the couch, curled up at my side, warm and soft, smelling of shampoo and outside… me reading my book and him watching his show.