Friday, September 21, 2012

Parenting in terra incognita: Part II

Continued from Part I

Back when cartographers had to notate unknown regions, they would sometimes write, “Here Be Dragons”.  As much as I'd like to think there really were dragons around back in the day, I think they were used more as a way of saying, "No clue what goes on here; proceed at your own risk".   The parenthood map is fraught with these places, and it can be terrifying to find yourself in the middle of one, as I recently was.

But, after some deep breathing and contemplation, I got a grip and remembered what I’d told despairing friends before: when faced with a decision, it’s not about agonizing whether you’re going to make the right choice and it’s certainly not about second-guessing yourself after the choice has been made, but it’s always about how you’re going to take ownership of the decision in the end, regardless of the outcome. In that mindset, the great unknown seems much less scary. It’s not like I’ll be banished from the realm if it turns out I was (gasp!) wrong. If this new path doesn’t turn out to be the right one for C, we’ll reassess, readjust and carry on. 
And another thing that gave me some peace was to realize that I’ve been here before at this junction of He Needs to Spread His Wings Avenue and I Don’t Know If I’m Ready for This Boulevard. What I thought was a new and scary predicament wasn’t really, except in the details. When C was a baby, we carried him everywhere, and it was so easy to just pick him up and put him down wherever we needed him to be for our peace of mind. But, eventually, he wanted to start walking. So, as much as we knew we’d be out of that comfort zone forever, we gritted our teeth, baby-proofed as much as possible, then let him at it. Later, when he wanted to take the training wheels off, we knew it wasn’t going to be easy– for him or us - but we ran behind, steadying the bike for as long as we could, and there always came that point when we let go so he could figure out the rest on his own. This whole thing with the school? More of the same. It’s as if parenthood were ingeniously designed to reinforce certain lessons by repetition, and holy heck if I’m not starting to get it!
What I have determined is that: insofar as parenting goes, the consequences of our choices don’t necessarily fall solely on our shoulders as parents, nor should they. If we’ve truly acted in the best interest of our kids, then we've set them up so they, themselves, are the ones who determine their success or failure. It’s our job to recognize the signs they’ll give us, telling us what they’re capable of. It’s also our job to give them the tools and security to try it out. But past that, it’s up to them to create what they will with the opportunity.  

And so, here we go. We may not know how it will turn out.  If it's awesome, we'll celebrate.  If it disappoints, we'll take a lesson from it; it won't be the end of the world.  Bring on the dragons.

1 comment:

  1. I love it!!!! Bring on the dragons Momma Warrior! On the school journey with you, and what a daunting one it is! :) Great writing!