Motherhood as Continuing Ed

I recently finished reading a book called You are Your Child's First Teacher, by Rahima Baldwin Darcy. An Amazon reviewer lamented it was long on theory and short on practicalities. I disagree because i did find practical advice in the book-- at least enough to get the gears moving, and I felt the "theory" or rhetoric provided soulful salve at a time that isn't all butterflies and moonbeams with the kids. As you can tell from the quotes i jotted down below, one of the theses of the book that resonated with me is all about how parenting is our own adult journey-- spurred on by our kids.

Just as babies don't wait until the world and our lives are in perfect order before they are born, children don't wait until we are "perfect parents." Indeed, we will be better off if we can give up the idea of perfection in regard to parenting. Parenting is a process of mutual growth, in which parents and children grow in different levels through their interactions and through elements they bring into one another's lives.

I gave up on perfection a long time ago. I was raised amongst perfectionists and i never did see the return in that last 2%-- enough to make me happy and to do a good job has pretty much always been my mantra. And yet, this idea that we are to keep growing and learning based on the interactions we have with our children resonated.

I can't easily think of anything else other than the experience of parenting, that causes you to look at a pregnant lady, or a pregnant mom of a toddler and think "boy, you just wait." And, it's not ego necessarily, not completely a need to revel in your own hard-won experience. Part of it is just an honest knowing that one way or another, one personality or another, the new phase these folks are going to enter into is going to push their boundaries at some point. Of course the same way a mother of three or of teenagers or of grown children looks at me.

And this is where Darcy's book really started to emit sparks for me:

If we see parenting as part of our own inner growth and development and see our children as unique individuals with their own personalities and lives to live, we will be less likely to fall into feelings of guilt.

I also don't tend to carry guilt so that wasn't the hook, but this ideas that being a mother, parenting these two boys is part of my own development has really spurred a bit of a renaissance in my mothering. I've struggled with how to describe this because it's not as if i was "Sleeping Mother" going through the motions of childrearing, suddenly awakened to an interest in my children. No, it's more that i've always loved my boys in an unbounded familial way and now i've discovered a way to apply all my functional "work" skills and interest to the family.

Bear with me if this sounds strange, but i love organizing things, creating schedules and problem-solving. I've been drawing on these skills ever since i started this parenting jig, but somehow in the last few weeks i've really began to apply these skills and interests to the kids in a focused way. And one of the best parts is that JT and i have been brainstorming and strategizing together.

I worry this is sounding a bit nutso. It is difficult to describe. I think the take-away is that i've had a bit of an awakening recently that the kids will not stay young or even in our house forever-- that days are long but the years are short, and finding a way for us all to feel like we're growing and moving together is crucial.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Oh man, I feel your empty nest coming on and I for one am not ready for that! I know that for the most part you and JT love being parents, and that is wonderful! You two have 2 terrific little boys! Good job!!