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Saturday, January 11, 2014

Parenting From The Other Side

I was reading Matt Walsh's blog. He points out that when a couple first get pregnant they are congratulated and then the whispers begin.  "The end of your life!"  He makes the obvious point that of course HIS life is over now that he has infant twins.  He writes a beautiful essay on being a conscious, loving father to his twins and husband to his wife.  Whose life is also over, just in case you were wondering.

I love seeing new, young couples, excited about the prospect of a new child.  Because these days that is rare.  As Matt Walsh pointed out, our culture is very anti-child.  It's like the Progressives weren't guilty enough for being white and able to parrot back the party line enough to get out of college, but they felt the need to eradicate the human race by not having children and claiming it's all about their freedom, their choices.  I don't argue those particular points, I just argue that they are valid.

However, I sit on this side of the parental fence.  My children are all grown.  My two boys are home from military service, working and going to school.  My daughters are working and living their lives, my youngest just married and they are looking forward to her husband getting a youth ministry far from home.  On this side of the fence I feel that I can prove the existence of God simply by how blessed my life is.

My kids are constantly teasing me that I've changed and my views are different from when I was raising them.  I maintain that it's not true.  There were just parts of me they didn't get to see because I was too busy trying to find my sanity while trying to raise four pretty intelligent kids who were hell bent on mischief.  I look back now and realize it was Bunker Mentality.  I just wanted to get through it so I could go home at the end of the war.  Any parent who tells you that having children is nothing like a war has a nanny and should be bitch slapped.

I look back on raising them and I'm, frankly, amazed they made it through alive.  That was never a sure thing.  Either I would kill them or they would manage to kill themselves.  My children were imaginative little gremlins who loved nothing more than seeing me go pale, almost faint then run outside screaming.  The little blighters lived to scare the hell out of me.  Between getting stuck in trees, falling off the swing set, playing in ditches, playing chicken with lawn mowers, using christmas decorations as molotov cocktails, setting the garage on fire, joyriding in a "borrowed" pick up... all of these things I live through.  I don't ever think about the things I don't know.  They all lived through me finding out about these things.  If you asked the Pope he would tell you it's a modern day miracle.  It's why I'm being considered for sainthood despite my being mostly alive.

When you're in those trenches you keep the constant mantra of "God, just get me through this.  I beg of you, just get me through."  And, that is the Bunker Mentality that pervades parenthood.  None of us really know how to do it. We don't really get instructions and babies don't come with owners manuals.  Each day is a new battle.  Getting them up, fed and off to school is the major one.  Homework, activities, or just goofing around is the other.  You just want to get them to 18 and then it's all over.  Right?

No, you just trade one set of worries for another.  Whether they go off to college, start a job or leave for military service, you worry, because now they are out there in the great big world without YOU to protect them. Those instincts don't just go dormant because of some arbitrary date.  That one I can attest to personally.  When my eldest was first deployed to Iraq I researched and found out ways to get to Iraq, how to get weapons in Iraq and who to talk to if I wanted to find guides and anyone who hurt my son.  I can say, in all honesty, I was prepared to level the Middle East in a fit of pique if one hair on my baby's head even blew the wrong way.  Thank God I never had to put my knowledge to the test.  Both of my boys made it through their various tours over there without anything more than a bad case of dysentery.  The good people of Iraq will always owe me a debt for my restraint.

I worry about my daughters.  One lives and works in a huge city, lives downtown and likes the night life with her friends.  I worry constantly.  My other daughter just married, is so very young, not even 20 yet, but thinks she knows exactly what she wants and how to get it.  She works her butt off for what she wants.  She's the kid I take shopping with me.  By Grapthor's Hammer, what a savings!

I worry about my daughter in the city.  I worry if she'll meet a man who recognizes how wonderful she is and appreciate it.  I worry that she works too hard and is far too trusting of those she considers a friend.  I continually see her taken advantage of because of her kind and generous nature.  She's beautiful inside and out.  There are any number of sick fucks out there who would love to ruin that.  And trust me, in the city she lives in, there is no where you can hide from me and I hate the city enough to nuke the entire thing to a parking lot if anything ever happened to her.

So I sit on this side of their lives and I don't automagically have MY life back.  I have the life I've built with THEM.  It comes with new worries, but I'm not in charge of keeping them alive, well and fed any longer.  I get the much more unenviable task of watching them trying to do it themselves and trying to keep myself from telling them they're doing it wrong.  Because I remember one thing vividly from MY life, I didn't like anyone telling me what to do.  They'll learn.  Even I managed to do that.

1 comment:

Sharon Scully said...

Every word resonates deep within my "mother's soul".