We all try to keep our children safe. We do. It seems an insurmountable task at times. Yet, we still try.
Sometimes it is small commands, “Stay on the sidewalk.” Other times, life changing decisions, like ending your relationship with their father because that future seems so dim. Buying vegetables, distracting them from scratching rashes, sitting through age appropriate television when you just want to watch Game of Thrones– simple things we endure to keep our children physically, mentally, and emotionally sound.
There a million different things that happen in life that could take them away. It is frightening. Some leave us with no control. Childhood disease. Natural disaster. Car accident. Sometimes it is seemingly innocuous moment that ends in tragedy. Hide and seek in a hope chest. Kids drowning in a backyard pool. Carbon monoxide while warming up in the car during a blizzard. Some are preventable and when they tragically occurs it causes outrage and heartbreak. Newtown. Boston Marathon Bombing. Jeremiah Oliver. Maren Sanchez.
The news is filled with stories that simply break our hearts. As parents especially. It is scary. Yet, the small truth of the matter, what I have resolved when I mull these things over… Is that I can not control most of what will happen to my children in life. Yet, I can control myself. I can teach them that they can control their own selves as well. Ultimately, that is all we can ask each other to be responsible for in life. To make mindful decisions.
So, in our house, we don’t shy away from hard questions. We have a modern family, life unfolds and questions can come. Where do babies come from? How come Dad doesn’t live with us? Who will die first, mommy? Me or you? And, I answer the best I can. Human babies grow in their mommy’s bellies. Dad and mommy didn’t work out. Sometimes that happens. I probably will die first, but there is no way to know for sure. Dying is something that just happens. You can’t plan when or how usually. But, if it was me, I would worry living the life you have. That much you can have a decent say in. Usually the questions come based on whatever life events are swirling around us all that day. My long-term boyfriend moving in. A friend’s marriage. A new baby sister. The death of my Nana.
We talk about all sorts of things. I remind them not to put small things in their mouth. I teach them their name, my name, and address in case we ever are separated. We talk about strangers. Saying hello is okay. Going with them is not. We talk about secrets. If someone, especially a grown up, asks you to keep one– it probably is something you should tell mommy anyway. Nothing bad will ever happen just because you tell me something. We talk about how to use a phone in case of an emergency. I point out what employees look like at busy venues in case we lose a kid. That way they will know who to ask for help. How to climb the jungle gym safely, where to stand in a parking lot when we are loading or unloading the car, the importance of sunblock, trying not to spread germs and more. In an effort to keep them safe, we try to prepare them to help themselves.
As parents we do our best to protect our children. We do the job diligently. Despite our imperfections. Regardless of our shortcomings. We hope for the best. We pray to our respective deities for strength and patience. We have a glass of wine. We spend times with friends and family. We make a small safety networks of other parents. We do our best to stay sane and survive the many challenges of parenthood. We do these things for ourselves, so that we can do the same for our dependents. The better we cope, the better they will.
Life is hard. Parenting, for many of us, composes most of our life. And in today’s world it is complicated and often bittersweet. You have to worry about the world you brought them into. You have to navigate the new world of mixed families. Exes, their new partners, your Exes family, your new love’s family, and your own family to boot. All of which can overwhelming, wonderful, miserable, and challenging in the same day. There is extracurricular activities to go to and from. There are school requirements and standardized testing and working 40 hours a week because most us need two incomes to survive. Their is making dinner, cleaning the house, getting gas. All to keep us alive, well, and hopefully sane.
Some days are better than others. We all make mistakes. I have lost my cool and yelled. Just put on your shoes! No, I can not play Barbie’s right now. Can’t you see I am cleaning the bathroom? Why do you have every blanket I just folded as a tent in your room? We burn dinner. Or forget school snack. Or leave the house without a diaper. Some days our home may look like a cross of an episode of Hoarders and a crime scene photo from a small explosion. Some days my patience is used up and the kids know it. So they do their best to see how close to crazy they can make me. Some days are perfect and the stars align. I hope loving them is enough. I hope my best is enough. I hope trying again after I fail is enough. Most importantly, I hope today is enough. It is all I know I have.
Today, the kids seem in a good place. Happy. Safe. Healthy. Full of smiles to share. Today is okay. Being okay is a wonderful thing. Today, so far, I have parented to the best of my ability and it–so far-is enough. And so, I also have a full smile to share.