Mentally Parental

I don’t often write about another large part of my journey, that of being a parent. But the topic is pleading with me so fine, here I go.

Our kids are the first in the family to be born close enough to each other that they suffer and love being playmate siblings. My husband’s sister was seven years younger and I was an only child. My Dad was ten years older than his sisters, my in-laws had large gaps or like me, were the solitary kid. Only my Mum had a brother with whom she was close but that was mostly a fear bonding created by what I can only assume was a violent household.

We have one of each:  A boy and a girl and I love them both with my whole heart and more. As Big Nut Brown Hare says, “…to the moon and back.”

Our daughter is a physical, emotional and spiritual manifestation of all that my husband and I could ever have wanted in ourselves. She has a strong sense of who she is and what she can do. What she cannot do, she will try and try to achieve until she gets it. She is focused, self-assured and confident.

Our son is the opposite; he has a low self-esteem, is reluctant to try or do most anything new, physically or mentally. And when he is made to, it’s the end of the world. He gives up easily, has admitted that he doesn’t believe in himself (but I’m not sure he really understands what that means.) Last night, after a particularly trying day, he wrote a note and stuck it to his bedroom door:

“There is room for 1 person in this room because no-one loves Sean”

The thing is, he is so loved. And I see what he doesn’t: creativity, a quick mind, a visual learner. He is capable of so much more than he realizes and we flounder to help him understand. I am pretty good at motivating myself and seeing the benefit of affirmations, quotes and the like; they nudge the soul to realize its potential. But when I’m with my son and I’m attempting a heart-to-heart, all those wonderful phrases disappear. It’s baffling. He’s uncomfortable with praise and lord knows, we are not the kind of parents to go overboard with it. We give praise where it is due, and guidance as best we can.

Our son is the culmination of the parts of my husband and I that, when we look back on our lives, we feel we could have changed. We were both drifters, with undefined goals, but unlike our son, the springboards that we jumped from into our own futures were not so well-cared for. We see that in our histories, we have hindsight, and like so many other parents now and before, we have a mental chime that reminds us not to be like our mothers and fathers. We seek to show more affection, feel more connected, give the kids more avenues to choose from. Provide them a stable, nurturing foundation with which to carry solidly down the road.

So whaddya do when you have one of each? One who you know is aware of the others’ ease of accomplishing, of figuring out, of taking on a challenge and getting it right? How do you raise him up without having him step on a pedestal, content with that much? Fearing going any higher because to do so could mean failure? Do you conceal your frustration, temper your anger, speak sweetly? Or do you let it fly after you’ve encouraged, cajoled and invited, then moved onto ultimatums, delivering news of consequences should the responsibility not be carried out? Do you expose the honesty when you’ve hit that wall? And for what cause, for what benefit? Shouting and yelling serves only to confuse and reflect your anger back to you, but when all else has failed, it becomes the last raw option.

Certainly we don’t give up. We continue the back and forth, push and pull, throw in the towel, pick up the gauntlet that is parenting. Keep on loving and keep on showing love. Carry on guiding, making them do the things they don’t want to because in the end, it’s more than we had. Like the familial chain it is, it will go on and on.

There. God, this has been a long drawn-out affair which proves to me that being a parent is the hardest job; it’s a lifetime commitment with deep emotional roots. The manual is blank and confusing with every page, and you can’t skip ahead. You can flick backwards but the things you applied a few chapters ago may not work in the present.

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7 thoughts on “Mentally Parental

  1. Thank you very much, I’am really glad that I’m following you. I’m still figuring out. Just wanted to say that you are an awesome blogger, Inspiring and May you inspire more readers essentially perfectly ok. greetings from Gede Prama 😉

  2. Thank you for your honesty, much appreciated and I also can relate. My son sounds similar and is a young adult now. As I look back I can say all we really have at the end of the day is love. Love, love, love…hugs, kisses….LOVE 🙂 If I’m to be honest too, (knowing I did the best I could at the time) I spent too much time trying to figure out what was wrong with my son instead of focusing on what was right. Celebrate uniqueness. You are so right, parenting is the hardest job in the world. I think God gave us this challenge because he knew we could handle it! You’re doing a great job, mom! God bless you and your beautiful family 🙂

    • I tend to do that too; focusing on the negatives instead of the positives but I can usually catch myself doing it and highlight the great skills he does have. Thank you for your comment and blessings to you and yours. 🙂

  3. Glad to know another only child! One of the books that has taught me a great deal about life is Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. The introduction is a classic to me about the switch in the past 100 years from a Character Focused culture to a Personality Focused culture. Anyway, he wrote early in the book about he and his wife’s frustration with one of their sons. Eventually, they got around to thinking about in him in a different paradigm with marvelous results.

    I told my wife (after having infertility surgery 11 plus years into marriage) that if we have one, I want two. We have two boys and I knew they were different from the get go. My oldest is a lot like your daughter and my youngest is some what like your son. They are in theater, church and such together but have different goals and interests.

    I too was frustrated with my youngest but in the past year he has started coming into his own. And I think asking God for help in loving and parenting him as well as letting him be him has been a help.

    Your honesty here is a statement about your love and care for your kids. We keeping moving forward!

    Regards

    Jim

    • Thanks Jim. When I was a kid, I often wished for a sibling (as only kids are wont to do) but I’m glad it was just me; I was quite resourceful in entertaining myself. Kids rely a lot on technology and the like today so in some ways, I am like my mother when I hear the words “How can you be bored? You’ve got a room full of toys and you’re bored??” 🙂

      • Yup, uttered the words myself over the years to the youngest! As I reflect on my childhood I remember being, as my mom would put it, “entertain myself.”

        What I am finding at this season of life, and I have to be careful not to over do it, is that I can step back (withdraw?) and just be in my own little world. I think it is a return to how I used to re-charge my batteries!

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