"Parents are as confused by life as anyone else. But they try very hard. "
--Rohinton Mistry from A Fine Balance
Driving home from the grocery store today I saw a sign for a preschool in the area. It said, "a relaxed trusting atmosphere for your child," or something like that....
It caused a full-body sigh of exhaustion in me as I remembered that time - not so many years ago - when my boys were toddlers and I was looking for a preschool for them.
I spent SO MUCH time on it. Online. Talking to other parents. Going on tours. Thinking. Planning. Considering. Wondering.....
Once they were in school I spent MORE TIME getting them there, picking them up, deciding which snack to bring, worrying about how they were doing, wondering if we had made the right decision....
The weight of all this time and energy got me down and I had a thought: What if we just didn't do that?
What if instead of thinking, planning, worrying, and wondering we just WERE. With our kids.
What if instead of reading, and touring and talking to other parents we just LISTENED. To our kids.
Later, when I was walking my kids home from school they were a few steps ahead of me, plotting their next Lego Star Wars Xbox mission and paying absolutely no attention to me.
As I watched them walk up the hill toward our house together I could see them walking away from me.
Some scientists believe that most of what kids learn about how to be in this world is learned in the first seven years, which would mean that my work is pretty much done.
I don't know if I believe that, but I do know that from this point on it is their friends and their peers who will have a much bigger influence on them than me and my husband. In a way, our work IS pretty much done, for better or for worse.
I know that I have failed them in many ways, taught them bad habits, failed to give them what they needed, and crushed their spirits, without even meaning to. But I hope I have also taught them many good habits, given them most of what they needed and taught them how to find what makes their spirits soar.
In any case I know that I have done the very best that I could in each moment, even if sometimes that wasn't good enough. And I have tried very, very hard.