Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Read Elsewhere: Parenting Perspectives

From Sundry:

I remember feeling this great crashing wave of never wanting to take a moment with my children for granted ever again, that if they were healthy and happy that’s all that mattered in the entire world. And then I remember being intensely irritated with Riley all of half an hour later, as he pickily hemmed and hawed over the little box of toys that the X-ray lady offered him as a prize for holding still during the scan. “Hurry up,” I hissed at him, mortified at his greediness.
I don’t really have a point here, other than I was thinking about perspective lately, and how slippery it is to hold onto. I bitched and moaned mightily about how long this winter break from school has been, then I blinked back tears as Riley climbed on the bus this morning. Last night I couldn’t wait for the kids to go to bed, then I sat on the couch and read someone’s blog post about their children approaching the teen years and how hard things are getting, and I ran back into my boys’ bedrooms to kiss their confused, sleepy faces. And on it goes — I have a thousand examples. Christ, a BILLION. I’m sure you do too.
It’s sort of ridiculous, isn’t it? How parenting so often makes you feel as though you’re not feeling the right thing at the right time.

From John Dickerson at Slate.com:

He is receding. He is still sweet, clever, and kind, but that impossibly large body I stand over while he sleeps is a different busier kid. This is natural of course, but in my reaction to it, I’m flirting with becoming that tiresome guy you meet at weddings. He’s the guy that goes on about how quickly children grow up. No couple with kids is safe from his instruction: Cherish every moment with your children.

This lament is natural, but not helpful because, unless you are a total brute, the sense of loss is inevitable, no matter what kind of parent you are. If you neglect your kids, you look up and they have grown and you've missed it. If you are fully present in their lives, then when they’ve grown you lament the hole they’ve left in your life. Either way, you've done your job and now they're off backpacking out of cellphone range or making girls with unruly hair laugh in coffee shops.
The answer has to be avoiding the lament and focusing on the product. Try to give your kids the benefit of your experience, love, and discipline—so that they can leave you strong. This also means giving them the example of what it looks like to enjoy your job so much that sometimes it takes you away from them. You hope they’ll have a job like that one day too. There’s got to be a way for the guy at the weddings to say something more like this to new parents. It would be more helpful. Still: I’m pretty much that guy.

From Swistle:

I've read a lot of stuff, mostly written in metallic script on greeting cards, about how much children TEACH us. Perhaps my own children are somewhat stupider than the standard-issue child, and that is why so far I don't feel they've taught me anything---and in fact, I have to spend a lot of time explaining things to them that seem really obvious, such as "This is why we don't throw a rubber band ball at the window" and "Are you serious, scraping a FORK into the TABLE??" But what I HAVE noticed is that I teach MYSELF things as a RESULT of having children---and perhaps that's what people mean to say but their children haven't yet finished teaching them how to articulate their thoughts clearly.

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