I was an exceptional parent.
More precisely, I was an exceptional parent before I had to actually parent children.
knew that with the correct combination of breastmilk, cloth diapers,
organic homemade baby food, no TV, reading and countless parenting
courses that I would produce exceptional children. This is essentially
how my children were raised, although the third had disposable diapers
and jarred, but still organic,baby food. And yet....
yet, last night I told my almost 17year old son that he could drop out
of high school, that I honestly thought that would be his best option,
that he should quit school and get a full time job and eventually work
towards a GED. My almost 17year old recovering addict son, who smokes -
just cigarettes now, who is in the process of failing his third year of
high-school, who says he doesn't care or see the point of learning about
Walt Whitman or mathematics, who has anger management problems,
aggressive behaviour (towards me) tendencies, and impulse control
This was once my beautiful baby boy. Once my
beautiful kind, bright, and loving boy, the one who picked me dandelion
bouquets, my ticklish boy who would burst into giggles at the mere
threat of wiggling fingers near his belly, my trusting and loving boy
who walked out into the world with his heart wide open, and made home
made mother's day gifts out of coloured paper, glue and crayons. This
was my boy. I still have his cards, his messy writing and beautiful
pictures carefully tucked away, but the open hearted, trusting boy has
gone away. I catch glimpses of him, occasionally, and also glimpses of
the man he could still be, but they happen rarely now, and when they do
appear I try not to cling because I know they do not last and soon
enough I will have my angry, defiant, hurting boy, who does not see a
place for himself in the world, who thinks he does not deserve
happiness, or even peace. And I try to parent that boy the best that I
My best. My best does not always meet my former
standards for being a good parent. My best doesn't even approach how I
saw myself in the role of exceptional parent. Sometimes my best is after
an angry exchange that makes me want to run away from my child and
never speak to him again, is me walking away, remembering the loving boy
that is still in there somewhere, and walking back, apologizing and
starting over. Sometimes my best is letting my son see my tears, my
hurt, my anger and, my love, through the ugly and hurtful moments in our
I've been told no one gets a free ride,
that everyone struggles and I try to remember this when I see other
people's children thriving and apparently happy. I try to remember that
recovering from addiction can be a great gift, and that wonderful,
compassionate people come out of these struggles. I try, but I don't
always believe these things.
A few weeks ago my beloved
greyhound Fezzik, who has the kindest heart and the most loving
disposition was attacked by a friend's part Pit Bull dog. I immediately
flung myself between them, only to be violently flung back on my ass.
The fight look terrifying and I was scared to death as I watched this
dog lunge at Fezzik's throat. I jumped up again and flung myself towards
them, this time with some help and an improved position we got the dogs
apart. Fezzik was hurt, he required an expensive vet visit and couldn't
walk for two days, or run - which he loves to do in our yard, for
almost two weeks. He is fully recovered and his normal joyous self now,
and I am very happy no permanent harm was done.
I don't think parenting is throwing your self in with all your heart only to get tossed out again.
I think parenting is when you get up and throw yourself back in, open hearted again, and again and again.
Parenting, even after you've been flung on your ass over and over.
Parenting is when you're too tired, when you feel so discouraged you want
to run away, parenting is when it's ugly, dirty, and terrifying, parenting
is when it's the very last thing you want to be doing. Parenting is the willingness
to get up, again, and keep your heart open, again, and to fight for
Excellent parents are mythological, right
along with the happily ever after lives in faery tales. Real life is
messy, mundane, heart and back breaking. It is also jammed full of
miracles, wonder, laughter and love. Generally, you don't find these
things where you expect, at least I don't.
I let go of
my personal myth of being an exceptional parent, it was a tough battle,
but getting knocked on my ass a few hundred times eventually wore me
down. I work on being a good enough parent, and hope that will be