If you look on my facebook page, you will not see any pictures of my kids’ first days of school or of all the neat-o outings we’ve taken, or really very many pictures at all. You’ll see a few snarky comments I’ve made, and you won’t even see most of those because I write them on a private little Word document called “Discursus.” So many things I want to write are inappropriate for facebook for one reason or another…. I’m not the parent who brags on her kids when they do well because I’m too busy being the parent who is overwhelmed by the fear that they aren’t doing well and that it’s my fault. The reality is that I have a really smart, high-achieving kid with a temper problem and a really sweet, social kid with a reading problem. They are less than a year and a half apart in age and neither look nor act as if they are related to each other at all. They are now two years apart in school, which I hope will help the younger one in that she won’t suffer so in academic comparison to her brother. Who may or may not have any friends in his class. But he has all A’s. Whoopee.
But the real problem is that I can’t stop worrying about them. I don’t seem to be able to fix their problems for them – a ridiculous notion that I would have scoffed at when I was the kid and not the parent in the equation. But I also can’t ignore them. I’m their Mom. And let’s be honest. I cannot ignore things like physical reactions to frustration or the inability or unwillingness to read. These are not things kids can just handle on their own. When I’m really feeling sorry for myself, you know – like now, I wish for easier problems. I’m not so far gone as to wish for no problems. I just want less serious ones.
Eek. Niggling thought. I know people with cancer. Tempers and reading issues in 2nd graders, even 2nd graders who are old enough to be 3rd graders, are nothing compared to some other problems – problems I don’t have.
So, yeah, it’s true. Other people do have much bigger problems than I have. That doesn’t actually change anything either. See…I’d rather read a book myself than help my daughter. And I’d rather play mindless games on facebook than talk my son off whatever ledge he’s climbed up to today. So I have a hard job – parenting – and I don’t really want to do it a lot of the time. I want them to be okay on their own. Which, by the way, is in opposition to the very definition of childhood. And GI Joe lied. Knowing is nowhere near half the battle. Or if it is, half a battle is still a crushing defeat.
Are my kids okay? Yes, by the grace of God. Do I get up and parent them? Yes, by the grace of God. Are they perfect, or am I? When on earth did I start believing we could be? But I love them and again, by the Grace of God, I am doing what I can to perform this impossible job with at least a hint of credibility. And they are still, even at their comparatively young ages, responsible for themselves too. I cannot make them into anything. That is not part of this job. I just have to trust that the same God who hasn’t let me ruin them won’t let them ruin themselves, AND that He has a plan for who they’ll be. And I’ll like those people very much. I just pray they’ll like me too.