05 January 2011

Perfect Childhood?

Is there such a thing as a "perfect childhood"?  Is it possible to raise children who don't look back as adults and wish they had been raised differently?  I don't think so.  

Maybe some think their childhood was ok, maybe some think it was great, but I have never known an adult who didn't wish maybe something was different growing up.  Maybe it's in our wiring to never be completely happy, maybe we are always looking for something better, but whatever it is, I think striving to give our kids the "perfect childhood" with the hope that they will look back with stars in their eyes and nothing but wonderment is a waste of time. 

Now don't get me wrong, I don't think we as parents should slack off and not care about how we raise our children.  I still think we should love them like crazy and do our best, but I do think some of us need to surrender the idea that our kids might not hate us when they grow up (if they don't already hate us now!)  Of course I don't mean hate in that they'll kill us while we sleep, I mean hate as in they wish we had done things differently. 

I know many will disagree with me, and a few years ago I would have disagreed with myself.  I thought, a few years back, that I was doing such a bang up job that there was no way I was going to turn out kids who had nothing bad to say about their upbringing, hahahahaha.  I was so delusional then! 

When I became a mom I looked back on my childhood before I decided how I wanted to raise my children.  Of course I wanted to raise my girls completely opposite of how I was raised, because I thought my childhood sucked.  Overall I think I had a crappier than normal childhood.  My parents were pretty dysfunctional, selfish, and didn't really seem to like having kids.  As I have gotten older, had kids of my own, spoken with other adults about their childhood, I have come to realize my parents did close to the best they could for the time.  (Notice I said "close", because I do think if they had actually put a little thought into the job, they could have done better).  Both of my parents' came from childhoods way worse than mine, so if anything, they did do better in that mine was better than theirs.  Plus, 40+ years ago, parents didn't really analyze their parenting like we do now.  They didn't put thought into it, they just did it.   

So with that as my background, I put a lot of thought into my parenting.  Everything I have done in regards to raising my girls was thought out beforehand.  I chose to attachment parent and co-sleep, I chose Montessori, I chose homeschooling and then unschooling.  And I chose religion.  Each one of those things was mulled over very carefully before proceeding.  I read a lot of books, I sought out what I thought was sage advice, and I tried to make decisions that I thought would be the best in the long term.  

And yet, now I have teens who look back on their childhoods and wonder "why"?  Why did I make them go to "that church", why didn't I let them go to school, why this, why that?  They aren't happy with a lot of the decisions I made, and looking back, I am not happy with a lot of the decisions I made.  

But what I have come to realize is that being a parent doesn't make us a god.  I was learning right along with my girls.  I had to learn to be a mom, I had to learn who these little beings were.  I could only do for them what I thought was best based on my own experiences.  But I soon learned they weren't little Me's, and what was best for me wasn't necessarily best for them.  And unfortunately a lot of those lessons were learned by trial and error.  I did a lot of things that I thought was good for them, that now in hindsight I realize wasn't. 

I can't change the past.  So I don't mourn it.  Because I know I did the best I knew how.  And I'm not done.  My girls are teens, we're still growing together.  I may be an adult, but I am still growing and learning too.  And I think they forgive me, because I think they know my intentions were pure.  But it still doesn't change the fact that in spite of my intentions, I think my girls still wish things had been different.  And even if they had been different, and I had chosen a completely different path in raising them, maybe they wouldn't have liked that one either.  I can only hope, that in the future, when they have children of their own, they'll realize being a parent isn't such an easy job and maybe they'll realize I did the best I knew how to do.  

"You know, the only people who are always sure about the proper way to raise children?  Those who've never had any." 
~ Bill Cosby~

03 January 2011

Happy New Year!

Yes, I am aware it is January 3rd and I am a little late.  But at least it's still January!

So Thanksgiving whizzed by, as did Christmas.  Time seems to be a blur sometimes, holidays the blurriest of times.  Looking back I realize I really am seeing my life flash before my eyes.  My eldest will 16 next month, my youngest 14.  She'll start high school next fall.  How the heck did all these years get past me?  

One of my resolutions for this year to be more present.  For myself in my own life, for my kids, for my husband.  I need to focus on the now, or I will again end up in some future present wondering how I got there. and forgetting a lot of things that happened along the way because I was just going through the motions. 

I remember when I was back in high school, (way too many years ago), and we used to wonder what it would be like in the year 2000.  "Oh we'll be 32 then", we'd squeal to each other, like that was so old!  When one is 16 it is hard to imagine 32.  But when one is approaching 43, 32 is but a memory.  

I've heard it said many times, by many people, "The older one gets the quicker it goes" and it is true.  I realize my life is probably more than 1/2 over.  Will I reach 86?  Neither of my parents did, only 1 grandparent lived past 80.  

I have decided this will be my quote for the year:
“The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, worry about the future, or anticipate troubles, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.” ~Buddha

What do I want to do with the 2nd half of my life?  I have a better idea of who I am now.  I like myself, more now, than I probably ever did.  (Not physically necessarily, but who I am, inside.)  

The thoughts are swirling in my head again.  Another resolution is to get to this blog more often and get these thoughts onto "paper" if for no one but me.  Writing helps me think things through, it helps me remember, and maybe it can bring others wisdom.  Or it can be a legacy to my kids. It will be 3 years in April since I started this blog.  I have recorded some stories from my past, I have ranted about things that I am passionate about about, I have written about things that have hurt me.  I also realize, looking back, that I have changed in the last 3 years.  I think I've mellowed, I think I have become more accepting of myself and others, and hopefully, I think I have become kinder. 

The Traveling Wilbury's put it well in "End of the Line":

"Well it's all right, even if you're old and grey
Well it's all right, you still got something to say
Well it's all right, remember to live and let live
Well it's all right, the best you can do is forgive"