Could it be true that in many cases the very thing we seem least expert on, least equipped to discuss, or most overwhelmed by, is the one thing for which we need to give voice? It seems like an odd assertion, ignorant even, to some. Yet, I dare say, that when an area of life is a battle, even if you feel among the weakest or most unknowledgeable, the commentary from that raw perspective may be of substance and even provide rescue to those hoping for greater insight.
I typically don’t talk on the issue of parenting. After all, I’m not very far along in the journey and, truth be told, have never felt more inept or overwhelmed in an area of life. I joke a lot with my friends, “I can work the boardroom, but am totally worked on the playground.” It’s a joke only in part because there is a very real sense of angst and timidity when i think about my role as a parent.
Life is demanding. Children are intense. People are opinionated.
The experts are paid a lot of money to pen volumes on the how to’s of child rearing. I teeter constantly between loading up my bookshelves and throwing them all in the trash. It’s an industrious and profitable market. Yes, your kids are a market. Must it be so complicated? What did we do with our children before all of the self-help?
And maybe it’s weighing heavy on me this week because I read the horrific account of a 12 year old girl jumping to her death because of bullying. My first thought wasn’t “where were her parents?” or “why?”. My only thought was “Oh My God…help us.” HELP US. Please help every family in America. I’ve observed the rhetoric around cyberbulling, which incidentally is current popular national topic, and I believe a foundational strategy and case building for more governmental oversight of web content and internet activities, but I digress. I’ve also observed the barage of remarks on schools, families, teachers, friends, bullies blasted about on Facebook and twitter. Someone must be to blame. Judgement must be assigned. Understanding must be given.
But, some things we will never understand. Some things aren’t easily chalked off to the fault of another.
I was careful. Delicate in my discussion about this because I am a mother. Not a perfect mother. Not a super organized mother. Not always the most conscientious mother. But, I am a mother who loves my kids. A love that often gives me a stomachache and sometimes keeps me up at night wondering if I’m giving them everything they need. A love that propels me to drive by their school often when I’m local, just so I that I might catch a glimpse of them on the playground. It’s a love that longs to understand them, works effortlessly to nurture, guide, support and provide for them in the very best ways I know how. And, I was also a kid. I was a kid with really awesome parents. But the will of the flesh is strong and despite their very best efforts to control and contain, to proctor and govern, Aimee did what Aimee wanted to do, at the expense of authority…many many times. The only difference is the outcome for me didn’t end in death. The emotional torment at times was the same as any other kid. And, I imagine, so was yours. All of these dynamics, I believe, are in constant force against one another and the weight of other external factors like friends, peer-pressure or pressure in a more complex and cruel form which we’ve named cyber-bullying are augmenting the struggle. I don’t have an answer. I’m not on a side. I’m simply saying, Let’s get real and talk about the tough stuff before a situation occurs and we cannot.
And, maybe it’s all of this that exacerbated the gut-wrenching and unnerving feeling that came over me when my own Owen went for some learning testing this week and the results were not what we had hoped for. You begin to think about what these things mean. Are they even accurate? But, you don’t KNOW him. He is not a case study. You want to make an evaluation and advise us on what his life will look like based on your 2 hour observation? Is that how this works?
The feelings of inadequacy intensified. The self-drill began. What did I do? What didn’t I do? What in the world? I should of read more books. I should have read HIM more books…in the womb, while drinking pre pregnancy brain stimulating drinks. Maybe I should have let him watch Baby Einstein? Classical music in the crib?
In this moment of bewilderment, I gaze at Owen. He is a bright-eyed boy with the biggest heart in the entire world. He is praying for kids in Africa, something he does routinely. Afterward, he offers his snack to Olivia. He looks up at me smiling, “Mom, you know what!? I did awesome on my test. I got them all right.” My eyes filled and I struggled to hold back the flood, “Yes, you did do awesome, baby. You ARE awesome.” He believes. And you know what? I believe in Owen.
I glance at my phone with 6 missed calls and 7 texts messages and think, nobody else could be more important at this moment. NO ONE. My mind shifts back the the headline story of the week. I fast forward 5 years from now, and I too wonder….
Parenting is not a job for sissies. It’s also not a task for know-it-all’s. It’s a call. It’s partnership with God to steward his very best gifts. It’s about being compassionate and needy. It’s about being as teachable personally as you expect your kids to be because we all have so much to learn. Parenting is not a topic for which we can afford to make cavalier comments on a social media status about the skill or mistakes of another.
I’m talking about it today because I need to. That is all. For me. For Owen and Olivia. And, perhaps for other folks who are scratching their heads after a few years in the trenches and saying, God please….don’t let me screw this up.