Supermoms Anonymous

Can I really have it all and why would I want to?

Parenting Problem #2: Babies never stay babies.

on July 21, 2012

They grow, and grow and grow…sort of like that irresistible puppy in the window that soon becomes the Great Dane that has staked claim to the couch, the chips AND the tv remote.

So anyway, back to that kid. Just when you get a handle on one problem, the kid outgrows that phase and is well on his way to the next crisis.  It is sort of like a duel where the bad guy sees you counter his cunning attack.  Then, he says “Oh yeah… see how you like this one!”

(P.S. I know babies aren’t that devious but wait a few years and this simile no longer seems like a Hollywood script but more like a daily ritual. Parent vs. child. Any last minute bets, people?!)

If you master getting the baby to sleep through the night, then maybe the next phase is something like starting solids or teething or crawling or who knows what.  But it is always SOMETHING…We act as if we can just get through whatever the current “thing” is then, we’ll sleep or then we’ll be happy or then we’ll consider ourselves good parents.

Parenting is a constant challenge.  But the “something” we think we are just muddling our way through isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  It is just one more step in the path we walk with our loved ones.  Granted, sometimes that stepping stone is buried in manure and we’d rather skip it – but you can’t.  (Just remember to wear sensible shoes for the journey.)

I used to think if I could just SURVIVE having three kids under the age of 5, then things would calm down. Well, yeah,sure…maybe. But the day we got rid of the last highchair, exerciser, playpen, baby gate, and all the rest (don’t forget the baby swing), I cried like… well… like a baby!

Now I face dilemmas far tougher than what diaper to pick so my baby won’t have a rash. And with each choice I make, I continue to wonder how much fodder I am providing for their future therapists when my kids become adults!  It is very “pc” to blame parents for ruining your life but then I became a parent – not once, but three times over (grounds for insanity plea on really BAD days!).

I originally wrote the post above when my kids were just hitting middle school age. Now that my oldest is going on 15, starting his sophomore year in high school and about to get his driving permit, the post seems more apropos than ever.  I have convinced myself that I was an excellent mama of my babies, a great mommy of my grade schoolers, and a fair to middlin’ mom of my middle schoolers. But in this phase of our lives…I just suck.

Everyday, torn between what is the right decision.  How much rope to give them before they hang themselves with their mistakes?  Or better yet, how high to let them fly and still learn to land safely.? Lots of poems and songs talk about learning to fly, to soar in life and love, but we ALREADY have wings. We can all fly in life: take chances, make decisions, try new things, but can we land? Can we survive the crash landings in life caused by our own mistakes, other people’s mistakes, failing economies, natural disasters, illness (shall I continue or is it just depressing?).

I keep reminding myself that in a few short years, they will be out of the safety of my nest. If they fall now, we can still catch them and teach them to land better next time.  However, if I make all the decisions and all the rules, demand compliance, fix problems, absolve mistakes and disregard consequences, how will they ever earn their landings. Worse yet, if they don’t learn to land without crashing, how can they ever fly again?

I have heard many good metaphors for failure and success.  For example, when my daughter was learning to skate, the employee that gave her the rental skates said the secret to being a good skater was to get back up one more time than you fall down.

Or, once a customer of mine tried to reassure me while I was still a new cashier. I had made a mistake on the register and I was embarrassed but I fixed the problem. He told me not to worry, that making mistakes was a sure sign that I was working.  I replied, “Well in that case, I must work a lot!”

My final thought on mistakes and bad landings: Take a word of advice from Launchpad McQuack (the pilot from the cartoon Duck Tales, duh!). Any landing you can walk away from is a good landing.

So here’s to mistakes and flying even higher the next time!

p.s. Credit for the puppies photo goes to http://puppiespics.net.   Aren’t they adorable!?

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