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Oct 06

Confidence

I think that’s what parenting all comes down to.  Well, not exactly, patience, intelligence, sense of humor, all those factor in as well – but really, for me, confidence is the biggest challenge.

I think I’m a decent parent.  I’ve got the mechanics down, mostly.  (I’m still kind of crappy at putting them to bed in their own beds and making them go to sleep.)  They’re fed, dressed, educated, etc.  But it’s the other stuff, the battles over sarcasm, and have you cleaned your room, and why won’t you stop nagging me, and if you’d just DO what I’m asking the first time I wouldn’t have to nag.  That’s when I start to really question myself.   Jessie asked me (well, hollered at me, really) the other day why I bothered having kids in the first place if all I was going to do was yell at them.

Because let’s face it, none of us know what we’re doing.  We’ll all just closing our eyes and leaping, hoping it turns out well.  We decide to have a child, and have no idea what that really means.  We imagine pretty blankets and cute bonnets (or was that just me?), peaceful afternoons, rocking a sleeping baby.  And we get that, we do – but we also get nights when the baby won’t.stop.screaming.  Or the babies that won’t.stop.nursing.  The ones that refuse to brush their teeth, and the ones that insist on wearing three pairs of underwear.  The ones that hide under the table instead of coming out to say hi, and the ones who haul off and hum a truck across the living room when the frustration of having their sibling breathing in the same room are too much.

We worry about whether we’re doing the right thing, cry it out, or snuggle every night.  Force the veggies or let them make their own decisions.   Let them choose their own outfits and look like a neglected child, or insist on matching socks and a neatly brushed hair.  Should we make them do their homework, or just suffer the consequences at school?  Push joining a sports team or force religious school?  Expose them to an instrument even if they’ve got no desire to play one?  Get them a tablet because you want them fluent in technology or refuse to cave and make them lug around a book everywhere they go?

The truth is there are no easy answers, and possibly no answers that are right all the time for all kids.  Even with my three, what works with one won’t work with the other, and the third one challenges me in new and completely different ways all the time.  We’re all just feeling our way through the process, trying to enjoy the little moments (Julianna has started kissing me twenty or thirty times at night, just before falling asleep.  She wraps herself around me, holds my face, and kisses my nose and cheeks and forehead and mouth over and over again, and then whispers that she loves me, and then closes her eyes).

Confidence is one of those things that works like happiness.  At least for me.  I don’t necessarily have to FEEL it to ACT it.  And if I act like I know what I’m doing, eventually it starts to feel true.  I start to remember that even if I don’t have all the answers, I do have thirty something years of experience on these kids.  I also have the added bonus of having their best interests at heart – and I’ve got a better grasp on the bigger picture than they do.   So I just keep winging it, and have faith that in the the end, when I look back, I’ll remember only the good things, the decisions that were right, and the moments that were so sweet (and not the truck flying across the living room, the temper tantrums, and the forgotten homework).

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