Thursday, February 5, 2009

The Non-Memory

When I think back to my childhood, one thing that really stands out is a memory I don’t have. I don’t remember doubting my parents. Well, at least not before I was a teenager. What I mean is I always felt safe and secure, as if I were permanently tucked into a cosy blanket. If my parents ever had doubts or fears about what they were doing to raise me, they hid it well.

This is a memory – or non-memory – I would love to instill in my own children, but I question whether I can pull it off. Every day I have doubts. Every day I wonder if I am doing the right thing or enough of something or too much of something. Have I let the kids watch too much TV? Are they eating well enough? Getting enough exercise? Did I say the right thing? Should I be more worried about Boychild’s worrying?

Sometimes I cannot even conceive of the fact that I have been left responsible for these two souls, to guide them into adulthood, to help them be good people, to make them strong and healthy and confident. How did this happen?

Well, I know how it happened and I wanted it to happen and I’m glad it happened, but honest to Pete if I think too much it overwhelms like a foggy night. There is so much information out there about doing “the right thing.” You want to make wise and informed choices about being a parent, but you could honestly spend more than half your life researching the answer to questions that many people take for granted, such as vaccinations or enrolling in French immersion or eating peanut butter.

So you end up going with your gut and trying to be confident in the conviction that your own parents raised you well and, as a result, you will make good choices. And that’s all well and good until you are blessed with a child whose picture can be found in the dictionary beside the words “temper tantrum.” Even though you’ve read the books and flipped through the websites, there just isn’t really a simple way to quell these little storms that rise and blow and ebb. Corners and time outs and naughty spots and removed privileges and big hugs and yelling and threats about finding oneself in a snowbank – there is no magic answer.

Do they see it when I am at my wit’s end? Will they look back and have the same wonderful non-memory that I have? I just don’t know.

3 comments:

Heather said...

I am SO with you on this one.

momma's heart said...

I too worry very often about these same things. It probably weighs me down and prevents me from laughing enough and having light moments with them. I have to conclude that they will take with them the echo of our words, and the example of our deeds.

I think you have it exactly right. If your parents raised you well, with little to no dysfunction, the odds are in your favor. You are probably doing all the right things in building a solid foundation for them.

Karen said...

Mothering is hard. And mothering a particularly passionate child is extra challenging at times. You sound so loving and consistent and kind in your approach to her outbursts that I'm sure she will only remember feeling unconditional love and safety. My oldest was passionate (still is, but a little more able to manage his emotions now!) and I remember temper tantrums where strangers would butt in and suggest a spanking as the cure. I followed my heart and sometimes despaired and pulled my hair out, but I never hit my upset little boy. He has a steel trap memory and I've asked him about when he was younger and his memories are what I hoped at the time. Trust your instincts!