I’m going to let you all in on a little secret.
I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing as a parent. You know those “out of body” experiences where all of a sudden you catch yourself in a situation and think “oh my stars, WHEN DID THIS HAPPEN?”.
Well, I have those moments quite a lot. I used to have them when I was nursing a critically ill patient, making clinical decisions that could potentially change someone’s health outcome … you know, pretty serious stuff.
But now that I’m a parent, I seem to be having these moments much more frequently. It’s starting to dawn on me that these people I care for at home (AKA my children) will need me forever, in some way or another. And that everything I do has the potential to impact on them.
That very thought makes my heart race.
They watch to see how I react in situations. They watch how I handle stress, fatigue and happiness and lock it away inside their mouldable little minds and hearts to perhaps use at some later stage in their life.
Note to self: start handling stressful situations better.
The reality is that each day, I’m winging it. I sign notes, say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to questions, discuss behaviour and schoolwork and manners.
Seriously, who gave me the qualifications to make these decisions for these little people? I don’t remember sitting an exam, or writing an assignment on the 100 different ways that a conversation with a five-year-old can go at any moment. Yet my lack-of-experience is being put to use 24/7 in our home and is directly and indirectly influencing the kind of adults that my children will grow to be.
If you are raising your eyebrow that perhaps I should have thought about this earlier, you are totally right. I did think about it earlier, but it’s only now that the true gravity of this motherhood gig has landed itself square in my path. Reality check.
Another truth? I have totally forgotten what I did with the older children to get them to this point already. I always thought the younger children would benefit from my years of experience, but it seems they are just getting a slightly older and a little more fatigued version of what the other kids received.
For example, yesterday I frantically went back through photos, searching for any picture evidence of how I toilet trained three children. I know I did it, I just can’t remember HOW. Now I’ve got two toddlers almost ready to reach that next stage and I’ll be winging it all over again.
It’s the story of my parenting life.
I’m smack-bang in the eye of the raising-babies-and-children-storm and I can’t for the life of me work out what I did before, how I got here (no, I don’t need to have The Talk), or what I’m going to do next. All the decisions and conversations we have each and every day are setting them on the path to live their own lives one day and I have no idea what I am doing. A little scary, no?
So, if you happen to ask me for some parenting advice, you’ll probably be on the receiving end of a lot of “um, I think I… um…. Have you Googled it?” responses. Then we can just hash out a plan that sounds good together over a nice cup of coffee and cake and hopefully it’ll work out. That approach seems to be working so far for our family.
Did someone say cake?