What nobody talks to about when you become a parent is the amount of worry you’ll have FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE! If you were like me, at least when your kid(s) were young you felt powerful, in control and able to do all, a Super Man Dad. You could feed the child, bathe the child, change the diaper and generally, that solved whatever was wrong. Now don’t get me wrong, there were those with colicky kids who were difficult to soothe and you fretted that something was seriously wrong like a tumor, or brain damage or something equally horrible. (I’m in the medical profession and have QUITE the imagination!!) My point being, that when my girls were young, I felt “in control” for the most part.
You eventually longed for the day when your kids would become independent, able to do more for themselves and rely less on mom or dad. However for me, and I suspect a lot of other people, letting go and allowing them to experience life’s little pit falls became something more ominous. More than just watching them trip and fall while running. Getting a “learning bump” as one parent told me. I became a “hoverer” following them around the park, lurking behind a swing set or a tree to keep an eye on them like some CIA operative on a top secret mission to protect them from life. I don’t know about you, but that kind of vigilance stressed me out. Well, lo and behold, I’ve continued that pattern to this very day (my kids are 11 and 8 now) and it’s not getting easier, it’s getting harder for me.
I still feel like that twelve year old middle school boy, the new kid in the big new school. Not sure which way to go, which way to turn to get to your next class or whom to ask for help. How can that lost child be a father and be expected to guide and nurture someone else when the truth is, the father is just as scared as the child. I don’t know about your kids, but mine didn’t come with an instruction manual. Couldn’t you just picture it – “Chapter 5 – The Middle School Years” 1.) Build a bunker and either you go in or the child does – remove from bunker when grown and mature (parent or child – whoever went in) Life would be so much simpler if it came with blue prints!
Yes, I realize that I have control issues and it’s something I’m working on regularly. I guess my whole point is this – Sometimes I feel so alone. From the outside, everyone else seems to have their shit together. The truth is, most people don’t talk about how they feel and what’s really going on and people like me start to tell “stories” about how so and so seems to have the perfect life and all is well. They wake up in the morning to angels singing and rainbows in their bedrooms! The kids are up and ready for school and nobody argues, everyone is polite and they are worry free. There is no arguing, money is not an issue and even their farts smell good!
Sometimes, letting go and seeing what happens is the hardest part of being a parent. Other times, it’s just getting out of bed in the morning that’s the hard part. Letting your kids find their own way, make their own mistakes and learn from them is what I truly struggle with the most. I’m always trying to show them a better way, or offer suggestions when no one actually asked my opinion. I can see my oldest daughter getting in her own way and seeing that she might “fail” feels like I’m a failure. I start to take on the belief that my child’s success is MY success and her failure is MY failure. I feel like the teachers or other parents look down on me because my child didn’t do something correctly. Just accepting my kids for who they are has been a struggle. What if the best they can do is exactly what they’re doing right now? Is that the worst thing in the world? Should I push them to succeed and be number one in everything and take the joy out of being a child? All work and no play, drive, drive drive, go go go.
Nobody wants to tell you or admit that sometimes, they don’t want to be a parent today or that having kids feels like such a burden. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love my kids and they’ve brought me so much joy, but sometimes, I just want to hide from them and see if they go away! I feel like I need to acknowledge something here, I’m not doing this alone. I have an amazing partner in all of this. My wife is my best friend, my co-conspirator in all things child related and one of the people who has kept me grounded and called bullshit when it need to be done. Now, we’re far from the perfect couple but together we’re walking a path towards a new way of parenting and relating, not only to each other and our children, but to the world around us.