There are a million choices to make.
Do I let her watch TV? Do I let her have a cookie? Do I say yes this time? Will saying yes this time mean that she tantrums every time I say no for the next year? What should the rules be? What should the limits be? What’s the right amount of sleep? How important is a daily bath? Does she really need hair? How about clothes? Does it matter if I get her out of her pj’s and the clothes she picks to put back on are pj’s?
Do I send her to preschool? This year? Next year? Never? What if it means going back to work to pay for it? How about later, should we send her to public school? Private? Charter? Homeschool? Say “Screw-this” and move to the tropics and eat coconuts?
What are the dangers? What are the benefits? What should she be learning? Am I doing this right?
Holy Crap! This is scary!
I spend a lot of time worrying, and none of the stuff I listed is the important stuff. I worry that she feel loved. I worry that she learn how to be confident, but not bossy or controlling. I want her to learn patience, but not procrastination. I want her to be creative and able to play, but also how to get the jobs done that need doing. I want her to be responsible, honest, and caring. That’s the hard stuff.
The worst part is that I know how to teach it. I just have to do it. Day in. Day out. And when I screw it up, I have to admit it, and try to fix it and forgive myself for screwing up, because that’s what I want her to learn.
I spend a lot of time worrying. I’m starting to call my way of doing things “parenting forward”, because I’m not trying to fix right now. I’m trying to gently shape who she’ll be in 20 years. I’m not worried about behavior, not really. I don’t want blind compliance. I want to teach her the underlying lessons.
Love. Compassion. Forgiveness. Patience. Confidence. Honesty. Work Ethic. Playfulness. Joy. Resilience. Courage. Creativity.
And the hardest part of that is teaching them to myself. If I want her to love and respect life, others and herself, then I have to do the same.
I’m being made into a better person by a little girl who’s not quite three feet tall. It’s hard. I struggle with it. I struggle harder with forgiving myself when I get it wrong, but that too is part of the lesson.