Quite literally. Sticky fingers, sticky car seats, and sticky lips, all getting smeared around your walls and handles. Why subject yourself to such stickiness? Because the rewards are great. The love that pours forth unconditionally from these needy little beings makes up for so much of it.. But wait, is it really unconditional? My kids often said to me when they were little… “Mom, I love you. Thanks for lunch.” It may just be that biologically they know that there is no where else that they are going to get their food. They subconsciously realize that they need to love the hand that feeds them.
There are other things that make parenting worthwhile. Watching your child do something they love. Watching them soak up information like a sponge, twisting and turning their knowledge and feelings and observations into interesting pretzel forms. It’s amazing to see their individuality, creativity, and personality unfold.But what happens when it all blows up in your face? Whether its a poopy diaper or a rebellious teen, parenting is not all cookies and roses. As a matter of fact, some of your greatest grief, anger, and challenges will be experienced in the throes of “raising” a child, and you’re not going to like it.
The depths of my tormented soul have been tapped as a parent, and I’ve witnessed incredibly poor behavior from otherwise normal upstanding adults when faced with the terror from their loins. What is it that turns this high functioning adult into a wretched, sweating, screaming deplorable excuse for a human being?
I think it can boil down into one word. Expectation. And hope. Okay, that’s two, but they’re so closely related. Parents think that this progeny from their sperm and egg will be better, brighter than them. That whatever they were unable to do as a child, by God this offspring of theirs will be given those opportunities, and guidance that THEY, the parent, never received. And those things that THEIR parents did and they SWORE never to do that, well they’ll throw that into the mix as well. So this melange of parenting includes, expectation, unfulfilled desire, old subconscious habits, and rules and restrictions from a previous generation that are not even questioned because they are so ingrained as “this is how we do it.” The entire parenting paradigm is an unconscious cacophony of behaviors and beliefs, expectations and hope.
So this new soul comes into the world, She doesn’t subscribe to those beliefs yet, thank God! She has her own ideas about life and living, and is bound by no such beliefs about how things should be done to be accepted. Without forecasting pain and suffering into her future, without regretting anything from her past, with perfect and beautiful presence of mind she sets off on a journey of tingly and awe-inspired explorations.
What wonder to this child, wandering through the cornucopia of sounds, tastes and ideas! What delight there is in laughter and beauty in the butterfly, and amazement at the laws of physics and the feel of materials and the sunlight twinkling on the dew?
As she gets older, the social nuances catch her attention, from friends to not so friendly, from running through sprinklers at parties to sharing secrets in blanket forts. The world is an utter delight. Except for one thing. Those pesky parents.They’re always cutting off the fun, ending the games, turning the lights out, yelling at her to hurry, criticizing her choice of friends, complaining about the teachers, mad about the lost soccer game, making her food choices for her, telling her what she needs to do so that she’ll be happy in the elusive and undesired future, in order for her to be happy, which is highly confusing because she already is happy.
And the worst part of it is that she believes these large creatures that give her food. Because they taught her that a flower is a flower, and indeed, it is so. They taught her to look both ways when crossing the street, and she can see now what great advice that is, because sometimes she has witnessed cars zooming across the street. They told her to wipe her butt when she poos or she’ll get a rash, and sure enough, that also is true! So if A=B and B=C, then all the rest of the crap they are telling her is also taken for divine wisdom. For a little while anyway.
Until the disillusioned, wiser teen emerges.So many of these adult rules are arbitrary. Like you can’t have dessert for dinner. You have to work hard now to enjoy life later. Like your grades in middle school matter. You can’t stay up past 10. Like wear a coat or you’ll catch a cold. Like you can’t run in Target. Like don’t talk to strangers, don’t wear two different shoes, don’t wear the same dress all week. Don’t throw your socks on the floor, don’t talk back, don’t make loud noises in the living room, don’t eat in your bedroom, stop whining, hurry up, and don’t don’t don’t don’t don’t.
Why not? Because I said so. Who cares? You’ll understand later, kid. You can’t see the big picture. So scale yourself down, put your wings away, conform and control yourself. Act like a GOOD kid so my friends and family will see what a perfect family we have. And then later in life, when you’re an adult, you’ll understand why we didn’t want you to be so happy and carefree, that’s not the way the world works, life is not that easy. Life is hard. You’ve got to have baggage, and face all the wing cutting and wounding and tyranny you suffered as a kid.And they you can work for the rest of your life to find yourself. Your true being, the free, butterfly loving, awe inspired, present, powerful, being that you were born as, before your parents interfered.