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Feb 10

None of us know what we’re doing

Or at least, I know I have no idea.

There’s a woman I know, not well, but we’ve been casual aquaintances for several years. She’s been to our house a few times, I’ve given her kids rides a few times, but we don’t really know each other well. Every time I see her, she tells me that Marc and I are fantastic parents, our kids are wonderful, brilliant, kind, everything is successful. I’m so calm and so peaceful, and such a good parent.

I’ve tried telling her that it’s not true. That parenting is hard, it’s impossible, really. We have no idea what we’re doing, almost all the time. The fact that our kids appear to be perfect belies the reality that nobody is perfect.

Sam has abdominal migraines. And an anxiety disorder, and severe allergies, a traumatic brain injury and he’s blind. I don’t have the foggiest idea what I’m doing most of the time, when it comes to figuring out if the vomiting is coming from the migraines, the allergies, or the anxiety. Really. I don’t know. Ever. I guess, and I think I’m right about 75% of the time, but I could be completely wrong.

Today is one such example. There are a lot of moving pieces that are suddenly falling into place for him, things I’ve been trying to get into place for years. And in the space of a month, this kid went from an incredibly unscheduled laid back situation to one in which he’s got stuff going on almost every day, and often several things piggy backing on top of each other.

Is that why he’s vomiting? Maybe. The vomiting does seem to coincide with activities – but he’s got a lot of activities, and fear around throwing up and not being able to run to the bathroom right outside his bedroom could be contributing to it. Is that anxiety? Or anxiety because of the abdominal migraines?

Really, I don’t know.

I never know. I look back at when Jessie was younger, because she’s much closer to officially “launched” and can see things I did right. But mostly, I see things I did wrong. I wish I had insisted on wheat bread, even though I hate it. I wasn’t firm on bedtimes and never made them sleep in their own beds. The house is always cluttered, I never matched socks, and there were many nights when I put them to bed by promising ice cream for breakfast.

We never know. Because in the end, parenting is just another relationship. And while there’s clearly more responsibility on one side than the other, it’s also about learning how to get along with someone you love more than anything. How to provide structure and love and still acknowledge autonomy and independence. How to make them know they aren’t responsible for your feelings, but they are responsible for their actions. We’re all just hoping that we’re doing the right thing. And never actually knowing if we are.

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