I've been thinking about something a lot these last few weeks. I'm going to call it a pregnancy craving that won't go away, except it's not a food craving, it's a thought craving.
I was talking to one of my single friends. (Yes, I have some of those still. It happens rarely.) This person was telling me about how they are going to parent. Stating something like, "I watch how you and your husband raise your kids and how some of my other friends and relatives raise their kids and I just know what I am going to do and what I'm not going to do as a parent. I've seen stuff I like and stuff I don't like and by watching all you guys, I know what I'm going to do."
I simmered on this statement for a while. I have a feeling that a lot of individuals without kids, married and single, think like this. Whether or not on purpose, it still happens- even people with kids see things they don't like and think, "shoot, I'd never do that with my kid."
This bugs me a little. Or maybe a lot since I've been thinking about it for weeks now. My initial response in my mind to my single friend is, "You have no idea what you're talking about. You have no idea what kind of parent you'll be until you're faced with actually being a parent and even then, you'll do things you wish you hadn't. You'll do things you said you'd 'never' do. So, please, for the love-- don't try and tell me in a round about way, you're going to be a better parent than me because you've watched how I've parented and have already learned from my mistakes."
Since I have had a while to simmer on this generalized statement, I've had the time to define-- in my own way-- what parenting is really like. And since I'm inclined toward the artistic. This is what I found:
It's a beautiful Monet, a Picasso, a Van Gogh, a Warhol, a Banksy, an Ansel Adams and so on.
When I see art, there are some pictures that move me to the core, they're beautiful and inspiring to me. I see them and think to myself, "That is what I want to do. That's what I want to make!" And then there are some pieces of art that make me cringe and wonder why someone would call that art. I'm sure you can think of pieces of art that have the same or similar effect on you.
So.... parenting. It's art. I see some parents with their kids and I think, "That's what I want to do! That's the kind of Mom I want to be." And then there's some parents that I see or listen to and think, "Yeah, I'm not sure what they're thinking. Why would anyone do that as a parent?"
The thing is, my style of parenting (like art) might look like a beautiful thing to some and like junk to another. But if you step back, really look at the piece of work you're looking at, you have to see that just because someone parents a different way than you would (or if you're single,think you would) , doesn't make it any less beautiful.
A parent who uses cloth diapers. A mother who goes to work full-time. A parent who spanks. Who doesn't allow sleep overs. Who dresses their kids in baby gap. A mother who buys the nicest things. A mother who never gives their child candy. A mother who feeds their kids only organic. All of this-- and I have to clarify this-- all of this makes for a beautiful different style of parenting, so long as the child is loved and cared for.
But this isn't where the parallels ended for me. Some people are not artists. Let's face it. Their stick figures look sad. You get embarrassed for them each time it's their turn in the game pictionary. Some people, also, are not born parents. They put diapers on backwards, give babies food they're not ready to eat, and make disciplinary calls that are embarrassing out in public. These people have to work at being a parent and for the rest of us, it can be messy and painful to watch. Comparatively, they're not good artists-- yet.
But they're trying. It is their greatest desire to be a good parent and they make an effort each and every day. Sometimes every minute of every day. I'm this kind of parent. I have to work at it. Parenting does not come naturally to me. But I want to be a good parent. I want to create a beautiful Seurat. But it's going to take me a long time. I'm no natural.
So let's look at someone who is trying to learn how to draw, someone who wants to create something really and truly beautiful. At first, their pictures are rough. They're stiff. The lines are terrible, the ratio of the items in the picture are way off and you wonder what the heck they're doing. But after many many mistakes and constant practice, things start to look better. The house they're trying to draw starts to look like an actual house OR maybe it doesn't (it happens, haha), so they change their medium (watercolors to charcoal) and then things start to improve. With practice. They start to find their groove and find what works-- this process may take months or years-- and soon the picture that looked like a toddler drew it, begins to look more like something you could call art.
That's me. As a parent. I started out not knowing what I was doing at all and I wasn't getting the hang of it easily. I took my oldest son to the doctor when he was about 15 months old and carried him into the doctor's office still in his car seat because no one told me I shouldn't because he was too big. I cried when he would poop more than twice in one day. I let him lay on the edge of our very low guest bed, left to get a diaper and when I came back he had rolled off the bed and gotten himself stuck between the bed and the dresser. I expected too much from my second child too soon, assuming that he was just like his older sibling. I yell more than I ever wanted to. Making dinner is the biggest chore in the world for me. Cleaning my kids' pee off the toilets, it would seem like-- ALL the time-- makes me want to put the toilet outside so they can pee out there. Putting Blue's Clue's on the TV annoys me, because I don't want to watch it. I have tons of other shortcomings as a parent, but I'm always trying. I want to be a good mom. I want to do right by my kids. I have had to change the way I parent often, and I still don't get it sometimes. But the great thing is, I know I'm going in the right direction. My sad little stick figures and sad little house drawing are becoming something beautiful. It's been 7 years in the works and I'm finally able to be proud of the art I have created.
Some might see the picture I've created and disagree and think they have all the answers about how to do it right. And from my perspective-- especially if they're single-- they have no idea. They haven't even started their drawing yet. And when they do start, maybe their artwork will look beautiful right away, they might have a natural talent for it, or more likely, it won't, and they'll have to work at it, even if just a little bit.
~Can't remember if I shared this one yet or not: A stole something from the store yesterday... so I get to go with him to return it later today. When I told him he was in trouble, he asked, "You're not going to call the police are you??" And before I could say anything, E looks forlornly at him and says, "Yeah, she is."
~October 29th, 2013
Our littlest boy hasn't been on here yet. And he's pretty cute. So he get's a spot. A.M is still drinking out of a bottle. He's 13-months-old and still attached to the things. I went into the kitchen to give him some milk since he was all sorts of annoyed at me. When I gave him his bottle, he grabbed it, and walked out the the kitchen, laughing triumphantly like some evil little elf that had just pulled one over on someone. :)
E rubbed toothpaste all over my just cleaned bathroom counter tonight. We'll forget right now that this means most of his teeth did not get cleaned, because all of the toothpaste was on my counter. I was pretty ticked and feeling fairly justified in my anger since he does this ALL the time. I snapped at him to clean it up and to not rub toothpaste all over my house! (yes I have found it rubbed on my walls before.) He yells back at me: This is not your house! Everything belongs to Jesus!
Papa K and my cute oldest boy, A and cute middle son E went shopping while he was watching them for us. Each got to push their own little shopping cart. A was the only one with something in his cart, milk. Both boys, being my kids of course, were running all over the grocery story. So Papa asked them to slow down. A says to Papa, "I know, if I go too fast, I'll turn the milk to butter."