Thursday, February 24, 2011

Guilt-Free Parenting (and other Oxymorons)

The title is a teaser. Unfortunately, there is no such thing as guilt-free parenting. I was just trying to lure you in. For me, feeling guilty or questioning myself at times is practically impossible to avoid. When my children were babies it was pretty much centered around whether I was doing everything 'right' or 'good enough'. If they cried I would feel like I should know what they needed and if I couldn't figure it out, I would really get upset with myself. I remember once we were driving from Decatur to Mobile, Alabama to visit some friends. Patrick was about 6 months old and he was crying non-stop for a couple of hours. We tried everything we could think of to comfort him but he just wasn't having it. I was so beside myself that I had David pull over at a gas station so I could hold him and nurse him. (Patrick, not David) HA! He immediately calmed down and we discovered that there was a buckle turned sideways underneath the padding of the car seat that had been poking him. When we had put the car seat into the rental car it had gotten turned around and we couldn't see it. Talk about a guilt trip!! I still get chills when I think about it. My poor baby. And that was just the beginning. Then the twins came along and, well, that was all she wrote...

As the kids get older, the occasions for experiencing parental guilt seem to be growing with the same frequency and intensity as Lindsay Lohan's wrap sheet.(Sorry...couldn't help myself). I hate to admit the number of times I find myself in a state of rewind at the end of the day, reviewing decisions I've made or things I've said and wishing I could have a do-over. Is it just me or do you find yourself doing that, too?

My husband tells me that I am too hard on myself. He's right, of course. It's almost annoying how often he is right. The thing is, like a lot of people I have come out of a pretty dysfunctional upbringing and I'm just really determined to do it better than my parents did. My kids deserve nothing less than my very best effort and that's what they're getting. Most of the time. Then there are the days when I'm tired, overwhelmed, hormonal...whatever...and I find myself short of patience and wisdom. Then, horror of horrors, I turn into my mother for a few minutes and all of my attempts to model June Cleaver go by the wayside. Sigh.
And then comes the guilt. Sort of a vicious cycle.

So, I have resolved to be more forgiving of myself. The kids are alive and well, nurtured and well cared for and at the end of the day, are pretty happy little people. They are not perfect. They are messy and the three of them can't remember to pick up their clothes and toys after being reminded a kozillion times. I pick my battles and hope for the best. I pray I'll do right by them and they will grow into healthy and thriving doctors or teachers or whatever makes them happy. I pray they will be peaceful loving members of society. I will try not to feel too guilty if they get in trouble or lose their way. I love the quote that when you have children, a piece of your heart is removed and is walking around outside your body. It's so true. It's also true that they belong first to Almighty God, second, to themselves and are temporarily in my charge for care and safekeeping. What an awesome and miraculous gift. I pray I leave them with a legacy of love that continues for generations to come.

So, this post is almost done. (Almost done is an oxymoron, too.) "Oxymoron is defined as: a figure of speech by which a locution produces an incongruous, seemingly self-contradictory effect, as in "cruel kindness" or "to make haste slowly."Since I mentioned other oxymorons in the title, I'll leave you with a few of my favorites:

guilt-free parenting
awfully good
amicable divorce
jumbo shrimp
boneless ribs
click the start button to shut down
anxious patient
clear as mud
civil disobedience
crash landing
controlled enthusiasm

I could go on and on but I'll spare you for now. I copied those from a fun website you can check out if you like having fun with words and language like I do.
I've been known to spend hours online looking up random stuff like this. To waste more time in pursuit of random fun, try but I wouldn't recommend doing it right before bedtime or you'll be up all night. Wouldn't want you to feel guilty for wasting time, now would we? :0)

Have fun, take it easy on yourself and be blessed.