I LOVE to read. I will become completely obsessed with a topic and order every related title from my local library---devouring book and book.
Of course, one topic I read a lot about is parenting. Like any parent, I want to get it right. I know what all the grandparent-types are saying is true: they grow up SO FAST. Enjoy these precious seasons. Soon they will be leaving the nest.
The truth is, it's hard to enjoy these LONGGGGGGGGGGG winter days. It's gray, gray, gray outside. It's bitterly cold. We can't leave the house without bulky "puff" coats, mittens, scarves, snow boots, and ear coverings...in addition to a diaper bag, a toy bag, my purse, three sippy cups, and three snacks. It's a chore just to get into the van.
I'm over it.
I'm desperate for trips to the park and slightly stingy skin gained from sun exposure. I want my kids to collect rocks and piles of dandelions. I want to push them on swings, I want to stomp in rain puddles, I want to feel energetic and inspired.
So instead, as we wait out these (hopefully) last few weeks of harsh winter, I turn to parenting inspiration from Facebook, blogs, articles, and of course, my beloved books.
Somehow I hope that by reading about good parenting practices, I'll become a better parent.
But there's SO much information. Parenting trends. Parenting statistics. Parenting philosophies. Parenting goals.
Project ideas. Like the book that tells you how to create art with your kids. Or how to play outside with your kids. Or how to make reading fun. (And I'm like, duh. Which might come from my background of growing up in the country where our days were filled with creative play involving dirt and Crayons and swapped chapter books). And meanwhile, you are reading these parenting books---getting excited about possibilities, while your kids are standing next to you waiting to go outside or waiting for you to simply sit and color a coloring book page with them.
Or our big focus right now: half-day vs. full-day kindergarten or our five-year-old. She loves school, but she struggles when she doesn't have enough down-time. Our town's kindergarten starts late for young kids: 9:15 a.m. If she rides the bus home, she won't get home until 4:00 p.m. I know she will be a hot mess. Now all the pro full-time K people say, "She'll get used to it." And, "They need full-time to prepare them for first grade." And I know those things sort-of make sense and are true....but it's not sitting right with me. I have several objections to full-day kindergarten for MY child. And finally, I realized, I have to stop "feeling out" what everyone else thinks when I know what the right answer is for my child.
There are gobs of books with beautiful, glossy covers. Authored by "experts": psychologists, educators, physicians, social workers, coaches, celebrities, other parents. They all have something to offer that's supposed to be better and different. And the almost always say their method is simpler and easier than the other methods---which is never true. Because there are one thousand bullet points, seventeen chapters, and twenty-five page Sources Cited pages.
But I found out that I'm often so consumed with learning what to do,
that I'm not actually parenting.
I saw a cool quote on Facebook the other day:
"Be careful not to turn others' lives into the mold for your own...We have a God who is a creator, not a duplicator." ~Francis Chan
In my heart of hearts, this is what I know about parenting (free of bullet points: I will use another symbol instead):
~I want my children to see me lean on God's voice and words FIRST and foremost (you know, seek first the kingdom of God) so that they learn to do the same
~I want my kids to see their parents parenting in a united-fashion
~Most of the parents I know are doing the very best they can for their children. It may not be what others think is best, and that simply doesn't matter! So I want to be one who encourages others in their parenting choices---because they are the expert on their children.
~Nobody gets it totally right. That's ok. And everyone is equally as confused and fearful as I am. Because parenting is a BIG FREAKING DEAL.
A girlfriend of mine is a counselor, and said once that she was fearful that she was going to make parenting choices for her son that would make him grow up and be in counseling himself. Then she laughed at herself and realized that if he grew up and went to counseling, it's because she taught him that counseling is a healthy decision!
The truth is, the more I read and talk about parenting, as exciting as it is to learn new information, digesting MORE means parenting LESS. Um, yes, defeating the entire original purpose.
Here's what I know about my kids:
~Above all, they need love, security, food, and shelter.
~They want my attention and affection. Eye contact. Hugs. Hand-holding. Wrestling. A calm, assuring voice.
~They need me to be their primary teacher.
~They think I hung the mom. I'm a big deal to them. And I need to own it!
I got this.