Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The Un-fun of Parenting

When I read other mom blogs, more often than not, I'm touched by their diligence and compassion as parents. More often than not, the mom is writing something heart-warming about how much she loves her kids. Or what great things her kids are doing. And even if she doesn't explicitly say so, you can tell that's how she feels. Sure, every once in a while you get a sense of exasperation. But it's fleeting.

Sometimes I worry that this blog comes across as a string of complaints. And in a sense, it's a nice place to pour my concerns, my hesitations, my frustrations. To vent my failures as a parent. With every post, though, I ask myself how I would feel if my children were reading this (and understanding it) day in and day out. Would it be a fair representation of our lives? Would they be able to sense from my writing how much I love them? Would they be able to tell how important they are-- how central they are to my world?

When Jason and I were first married, I used to wonder what life would be like if something awful were to happen that took him away from me.

(Sidebar: I think about this stuff kind of frequently. Not in a morbid, death-wish-kind-of-way, but from the perspective of always having a plan. I like to have a Plan B. In my mind, I plan what I'd do in an accident. It makes me feel safe to know I have a back-up plan. This is part of what prompted one of my friends to purchase for me the book The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook, which includes brief lessons on things like how to escape from quicksand, how to escape from a python, and how to break down a door. On a separate note, I just discovered the Worst Case Scenario website. I'll have to remember to bookmark it!)

Anyway, back to what I was saying. When I was first married and I'd wonder what I'd do if something terrible were to happen to Jason and leave me all alone, the thought didn't completely devastate me. I would be upset, of course (who wouldn't be?). But I thought I'd be able to pick myself up and move on forward. Of course, as the years of our marriage passed, and I became more and more dependent on being an us instead of just a me, I began to realize how difficult it'd be to do that-- to pick myself up and keep on going.

Then we found Casey. Or he found us. Maybe some of both. Anyway, my perspective shifted again. Not only could I no longer imagine my world without Jason, but now I couldn't imagine my world without Casey. And then we added Marcie to our family. So now I have triple the people the worry about! I'm not one of those overbearing-keep-my-kids-locked-inside-for-fear-something-will-happen people. I'm not a big risk taker. But I do believe in living a little. And in encouraging my kids to do the same. My point is that I just cannot imagine life without one of them. I don't want to imagine it. I don't want a Plan B. My life would feel less whole and less complete without them.

So why do I feel compelled to explain all this? Because a lot of the time on this blog, I seem to be complaining. I actually find writing very therapeutic. And I won't write just for myself. I mean, I suppose this blog is just for myself-- but it sure does help to know there are other people out there checking in on us and reading this. Gives me a sense of purpose. Like maybe someone else is commiserating, so it wasn't a waste of my time to right it down. Plus, I really do plan to archive it all for my kids.

But I want to be clear that no matter how much I kvetch, it should never underscore my love. I don't just love Casey and Marcie when they are angelic, when they are healthy, or when they are polite. I love them when I'm cleaning diaper explosions, when I picking up toys, when I'm telling them to stop asking me when we are going to see the fire truck for the 500th time. I love them when they are throwing things and screaming and asserting their independence. I love them when they are asleep, when they are crying inconsolably, when they are in destruction mode. I love them when they are hugging each other and when they are pushing each other, when they are playing quietly and when they are singing and dancing loudly. I even love them when they run off into the street nearly causing me a heart attack. One of my goals as a parent-- maybe the most important goal of all-- is that they know how much they are loved. Despite their mistakes. And despite my mistakes with them. And there will be mistakes because that's how we learn.

So when I write about the un-fun parts of parenting, it's not because it's all I'm focused on. I mean, I do seem to write about un-fun a lot. But no one should take that to mean I don't enjoy parenting. I enjoy it very much. Un-fun and all. And someday, when Casey and Marcie are adults and they read through all I've written about them, I hope they can read between the lines of my un-fun posts, too. I hope that it's there that they will see that throughout our crazy adventures as a family, all my worrying about their mischief and misbehavior is because I love them. And because I want them to be happy, healthy, confident, productive members of society. I think that's a gift my parents gave me-- a sense of self and a streak of independence, but backed with the ability to make mostly good choices and a recognition that I will continue to learn from mistakes throughout life. What a great gift. I hope I can pass it on.


Femeros said...

What I enjoy most about reading your blog is that it is REAL. You've always been so down-to-earth and this shows in your parenting and in your blogging. I don't think I've ever questioned your love for Casey & Marcie - the fact that you are blogging at all is a wonderful example of how much you love them. Thanks for sharing the ups and downs of your family adventure... it has been, and I suspect will continue to be, a blast!

Ron and Julie said...

I don't think you are complaining. I like that you are keeping it real. I have often felt like I must be a terrible parent to get so irritated with Nathan and all these other Moms don't do that with their children. It helps me when you post about your experiences and I realize I am not the only one. Kudos to you for being brave enough to do that. --Julie

AmandaD said...

I think it is a real disservice to those new parents and soon to be parents when there is a picture painted that it's all giggles, cuddles and unhurried time (intimacy) with your spouse/co-parent. So don't feel bad. If you didn't love them with all you had you wouldn't take the time to write the stories you do. I so admire your reward system and dedication to creating experiences for your kids. I am hearing your ove loud and clear.