Fear and Doubt: True Confessions of an Aspiring “Good” Parent

The kids won last weekend.

Both of them.

Madeleine is pretty high-functioning for a one-year-old.

When WE win–that is, when the parents win–it looks like this:

-We wear the kids out at the park, Jump Time, Bodies in Motion, SOMETHING physical;

-They are happy and satisfied, and they act that way;

-They are grateful, well-behaved, polite, and listen to our instructions;

-They let us SLEEP!

So, yeah, you can envision what our weekend looked like. Not only were we happy to get back to work on Monday, but also I experienced genuine dread when I had to pick the kids up last night. That’s never happened before.

We barely slept. That’s part of it. We barely had moments not filled with whining, complaints, screams, or outright disobedience.

Kelly, Mommy-of-all-Mommies, uttered some pretty choice phrases about the little brutes.

Both of them. Even the one-year-old.

It was a hell of a time and it got us both to thinking quite a bit. For one, we did get to wax philosophical about happiness, generally speaking.

We got to discuss the way life seems to go, again generally speaking, and our reactions to it.

“That’s the trouble with you Americans: you expect nothing bad ever to happen, when the rest of the world expect only bad to happen — and they are not disappointed.”
-Svetlana the One-Legged

Furthermore, we got to experience what, I can only assume, all aspiring “good” parents experience… oh… let’s say close to every waking moment of their all-consuming, parental existence.

Good ol’ Fear and Doubt, two of the 27 horsemen of the Parent-Pocalypse.

What is there to fear? Plenty. Are we having any infinitesimal impact on Garrett as a developing human being? Not if his at-home behavior is any indicator!

What is there to doubt? Oh, only every last tiny personal thing about yourself, ranging from your dietary and linguistic habits in front of your children to how often you consistently reinforce positive and negative behaviors from one to the other, even when the other one is a baby and the older one is demanding justice…

No, my friends, take it from me. The kids aren’t exactly the hardest part about being a parent. The kids are simply the terrifyingly fucking awful mirror help right up to your face.

The most difficult part about parenting, at least if you’re a thoughtful human and one who is actually trying (believe me, there are a fucking LOT of you who aren’t), is the REFLECTION.

My kids aren’t proof that raising children is difficult. It’s proof that I’M SCUM!!

Fun fact: Limp Bizkit (check that faded tattoo on your back) is reuniting. Yay…

Furthermore, it is perhaps one of the hardest aspects of this parenting deal is suffering all of this fear and doubt, to borrow Boromir’s sentiment, and soldering on!

This is what makes true leaders, I’m told. It’s not necessarily about honest self-reflection; it’s just about making a choice and moving forward like it was right now matter how wrong it actually was!

There IS no right answer. Most parenting books are something like opinion, maybe even opinion based on some kind of research at-best (and, as the ol’ in-law likes to say, “Science can be used to prove anything!”).

No, my friends, the only comfort you get is knowing that this is YOUR child, so there technically IS no wrong way to do it. They just turn out the way you want them to turn out…

If only it were that easy.

So let’s recap the main points FOR having children:

-Stress

-Inexplicable weight gain

-Less sleep than you’ve had since college

-Fear, lots of general fear

-Explicable weight gain

-Self-doubt, plenty of self-doubt

-Ingratitude

-The opportunity to repeat yourself ad nauseum

And, this is the point where, if I were cheesy as hell, I’d say, “NO REGRETS!”

Okay, minor regrets, but we still love the little monsters endlessly. We may have lost our freedom absolutely, but, with my best friend, I got to make two more best friends. It’s about as happy as I’ve ever been, despite the near-insanity, the sleepless nights, and all of the mental trauma one as neurotic as myself could handle without fully snapping, loading up an ice cream truck with pickles and cats, and driving it directly into a gas pump.

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4 thoughts on “Fear and Doubt: True Confessions of an Aspiring “Good” Parent”

  1. Speaking from experience I can tell you that a lot of what you’re describing is like having your mother-in-law move in with you, only without the “best friend/happy as I’ve ever been” part. 😉

    But hang in there, Jay. I’ve got the sneaking suspicion you’re a lot better at this than you think. 🙂

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  2. Twenty years in and it’s still the best decision that I ever made. I remember when T would be out of sorts–usually related to some kind of growth spurt either physically or mentally that just exhausted him. And you’re right–there’s no correct answer–you just do what’s best for your kids, which sounds exactly what you’re doing:-)

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  3. I often based my self-image on the behavior of my children. It wasn’t fair to me. Their development needed to have the same speedbumps that mine did. I started being easier on them and myself and they grew into decent people. You feel this way because you care. That’s never a bad thing

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