Monday, September 9, 2013

Turns out I do love them...

Isn't that nice? One of the things on my heart lately is that I really do love my kids. You'd think this shouldn't be a surprise. I guess I'd say it's not a surprise, but I've recently had confirmation. And confirmation of something so sweet is nice!

Let me explain:

18 years ago, we had Micah. 37 hours of labor ending with a C-section. I 'missed' the after birth cuddle on my chest. In fact I remember very little from that day. I know Micheal and our families got to cuddle him and see his hand and foot prints taken, I remember the Dr. proclaiming that he had 'out door plumbing!'... I didn't feel like it was sad that I'd missed out on pushing a baby from my body. And in fact, there are some women with whom I stopped talking about his birth because I was done hearing that it was 'too bad.'

I breast fed for 7 months the first time and 14 months the second time. Sometimes I brought our baby to bed and dozed with them because I couldn't keep my eyes open any longer. But I couldn't wait until they were in their own bed, permanently. I don't want a family bed, I want to sleep with my sweet husband, alone.

When Micah started kindergarten, my husband was able to get him to the bus while I was at work. He stood with him, watched him get on the bus, waved, jumped in the car and followed the bus 3 blocks to school, and then he cried. I brought Grace to her first day of kindergarten. I didn't cry. I was excited she was in school.

Micah just graduated from public school. And our daughter is in public school. I firmly believe that my children are better for NOT having ME home school them. It's just not my gift. And I love that they are going somewhere to learn from someone who IS gifted in teaching.

We talk to our kids about sex and advocate sex ed in school. Since we've already talked about it, and continue to talk about it, there aren't any big surprises here.

Our kids don't have food allergies or other health concerns that have made us pay close attention to where they go, who they see, and what they eat. And I'm thankful. And honestly, if my kid had a runny nose, I probably still brought them to the church nursery, and that may have kept someone else's kid out. But we live in Minnesota, where it's Winter, for 8 months. Everyone has a runny nose. (Please note that I'm not talking about exposing someone with an immune condition to something virulent, or bringing a pb&j sandwich somewhere regardless of allergies.)

We immunized our kids. And I have read the studies on both sides of the issue. Micah had the chicken pox, Grace was immunized. They will both get the HPV vaccine when it's appropriate. And meningitis. And we get the flu vaccine every year, and it's never made us sick.

We have friends who won't allow their kids to be alone with any people other than family. Like Grace could not be upstairs in the living room with their son, when she was 5. So those kids would sit downstairs, missing out on playing, because of some rule, because I'm untrustworthy, because I don't know why.

We make or advise our kids to talk to their friends when there is an issue, when there are hurt feelings, to apologize when they've caused hurt feelings. We have the same rules with our kids and their teachers. For Grace (3rd grade now), I've gone to her teachers with her to model how we talk to them to bring up a concern, and now she gets to do it herself. I will rarely call the school.

All these things, the strong emotion other parents seem to have about some of these topics, and advocating that our kids learn make wise choices, had me second guessing our parenting style. We avoid harmful things with our kids while still allowing them to live in the world, to prepare them for when we aren't making those decisions for them, or with them. We are all about the debrief, often asking things like 'What do you think God thinks about that?', 'Would you do that again or what will next time look like?', or 'How can you change that outcome?'... Since we've talked to our kids about sex, it's not a big stretch to talk about something like homosexuality, because the subject isn't taboo. Or safe sex. Or babies. Or anything.

Anyway, I guess I was feeling like my feelings about some of these topics weren't strong enough, weren't making me a good parent, weren't reflecting the love I 'should' have for our kids. And how sad that other people's opinion can make us feel less than adequate. There are just so many voices talking at once about how we raise our children, it's confusing, and frustrating, and noisy!

It's been impressed on me lately that I'm not right, and you're not right, we all are doing the best we can with the information we have, distilled through our experience, polished by our mistakes. I'm not less, you're not less. We all love our kids, let's stop comparing. Instead, I'm going to try to enjoy this parenting gig and keep doing the best I can.

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