As a first-time pregnant gal, I started in with all the requisite books, i.e. "What to Expect ... " (Hah!), "The Baby Whisperer," and many other books about other people's "good ideas" about parenting. I got so confused, I finally just gave up and decided to maybe try my own instincts. Books and products about babies and birth (natural and otherwise) and child rearing seem to have become a boom industry along the lines of weddings and food shows.
There is a lot of thinking out there about how to be as a mom--or dad, I suppose. I think it's mostly moms who read all these books though. New moms are a vulnerable lot: we certainly do feel that we've entered uncharted territory--maps and guides appear useful. More maps! More guides!
But it is my general belief that as a culture, we've "made too much" of everything. Did anyone hear the news that parents actually spend more time with their kids now than ever before? (I'd love to get the source on this.) And we thought we were neglecting our children! It's time to stop taking everyone else's advice and begin to follow our own. Is parenting really such a big deal?
Here in our humble family, my husband now takes care of the kids. Our income, of course is lower than average for educated Bay Area types (I guess). Both my husband and I have chosen to pursue meaningful, self-directed work over high incomes (a possible mistake?), but we live our lives in our own unique fashion, and we hope others are doing the same.
My fear, however, is that they are not. There is so very much discussion about everything--as if our choices at every turn were life and death. Do your children sleep in bed with you? Yes? Fantastic! Do you tuck them in and close the door to their own private rooms? Great! Did you breast feed? Fabulous! Did you choose formula instead? Good for you!
I am pretty sure now that it is not so much what you do with your children that matters as much as the feeling state you do it in. And part of maintaining a positive feeling state in the home is about not worrying.
For example: not worrying about how you are putting your children to bed, not worrying about whether they ate too much candy this afternoon, not worrying about how clean the house is, how much TV is being watched, is the pre-school providing enough pre-academic instruction? and so forth ... A worried parent is a distracted, unhappy parent. A worried parent is not "present." And I am not speaking of neglect (which is often the result of too much worrying about other things: the self, life, for example).
There was this wonderful post-humous quote on (of all things) "Extreme Home Makeover" last night. The father of the new-home-needing family used to say this one thing before he passed away, and it got inscribed on a stone bench in the backyard of the new and fabulous house.
"There is plenty to think about, but nothing to worry about."
This from a man diagnosed with cancer.
Worry is the great cancer of parenthood. Better replaced with "reflection."
There is a wisdom in you and in me, and in our children and partners that emerges when we actually stop worrying and start reflecting. We know what to do--with our children, our work, our homes. We know what "feels right" for us. Wherever we are and in whatever condition. As one of my teachers, Sydney Banks, has said: "no matter what situation you are in, no matter how deplorable, Truth will take you out of it."
A mystical mama worries (of course, she is a human being, too) ... and then she drops her worrying and gets quiet.
And then the answer comes. Maybe not even from her. Maybe from the child. Maybe from the Dad.
The best parenting for our families comes from us and from within our families. Good ideas are good ideas and often useful. Wisdom is always right on target.
What do other people think? The experts? The neighbors? The professionals? The media?
Please, do share your thoughts if they are authentic ...