Like many parents today, I thought long and hard before making the decision to bring a child into this world.It’s funny to me that this is a rather new way of doing things. I think my mom’s generation was the last in which many woman were having children just because it was expected of them. You didn’t have to psychoanalyze yourself to figure out if you’d be a competent parent. You just had the babies and figured you’ d learn on the way.
Now, most of the parents I know go through a period of deep introspection as well as getting the college degrees, setting up viable careers and making sure the marriage is good and healthy before embarking on parenthood.
Even with my carefully laid plans there are still moments when I feel woefully ill-equipped to be a parent. So many of the things I want to teach Charlie so he’ll have a happy life, I’m struggling with myself. Things like how to organize and manage time, finish projects even when they become difficult, let things go when they don’t turn out the way I planned, deal with emotions in a healthy manner. The list goes on and on.
Luckily, there seems to be a grace period built in. The first year was all about keeping Charlie safe and healthy. I don’t think he had any idea that the kitchen was a mess most of his first year or that I constantly misplaced car keys, socks and shoes, sippy cups. Just about anything I needed for an outing required ten additional minutes of preparation. My real worry was that he would sense my stress and this would bend his little brain in ways I wouldn’t be able to repair later.
As it turned out, Charlie didn’t seem very sensitive to any of this. As long as he was fed and allowed to nap (which he was happy doing anywhere), he seemed completely unaffected by everything else.
I know this grace period is coming to a close. We’re more careful about what we say around him. I’m starting to put some kind of organizational system in place so he doesn’t grow up in the midst of chaos, and I’m trying to model good behavior by not getting so frustrated when I make a mistake or can’t find my car keys. It’s hard. And to be honest, I don’t think I’m going to be perfect by the time he’s two, which is when I imagine the grace period will be closed or nearly closed.
Then I figure I’ll just have to have faith that overall we’re giving Charlie a happy, healthy environment to grow up in and everything will turn out fine. Maybe that’s the most important lesson to teach Charlie anyway.