In this day and age, it has become so easy for me to go on my phone, click on my google app, and type, “How to…..?” Then after hitting search, there are an exuberant amount of articles that appear right at my fingertips. I can basically learn how to do anything I want by simply following instructions listed. Not only can I be taught another skill, but if I put my mind and time into it, I can perfect it. My top seven google searches I find myself exploring the most include:
1.) How to fix something. Lately, with little kids, it involves something with an iPad, a broken zipper, or a hole in the wall.
2.) How to cook or bake. This is a daily google search, Pinterest usage, or skimming a cookbook. A recipe is specific, easy to follow, and has a successful outcome (most of the time!)
3.) How to get somewhere. Between a GPS, my maps app, or my maze app, all I need to do is enter my destination, and click, “Go!” Following driving directions continues to get easier and easier.
4.) How to diet. If I am looking to lose weight, get toned, or eat healthier, I effortlessly browse the internet or magazines to select the diet of my choice. Diets, today, are mapped out to the meal, and the snack. All I would have to do is follow the rules.
5.) How to blog. When I started blogging almost two years ago, I had never even heard of the term, “blog.” Therefore, I had a lot to learn, and many articles to read. Each reading was consistent in the rules to follow, and the steps needed to take to successfully blog.
6.) How to play a game. Whether it is Scrabble, Poker, or Mahjong, every game comes with a manual including its rules and “how to play.” After reading and following the detailed instructions, I can easily understand how to correctly play a new game.
7.) How to put something together, or build. I have a new appreciation for toys that already come assembled. But, let’s be honest, the companies love to ship us a box filled with a million pieces, a sheet of paper with pictures, and a lot of screws. Regardless, a box filled with car parts can successfully turn into a functioning cozy coupe by simply following the instructions included.
The list can go on and on. You get my point. By following a guide, you can see a successful outcome almost immediately. But, with the aspect of life I find the most challenging, there is no manual or handbook with instructions. And, that is how to parent.
We are put into situations on a daily basis where we are forced to make decisions that affect our children. Though we intend seeing our decisions result in a positive way, we truly have no idea how they will affect our kids in the short-term or long-term. For instance, my son is going to be in kindergarten next year. I live in an area that is saturated with reputable and amazing private schools. However, our public elementary school is supposed to be fantastic. Some of my friends have decided to go the private route, while we have chosen the public. Of course, we only want the absolute best for our son. Is sending him to public school a bad idea? Will he not get the attention he needs to thrive? And, if not, how do we even choose a private school when there are so many options? Will something occur that will permanently scar him? Or set him back? Or, will he love it? And flourish in that setting? Again, there is no pamphlet that I can open, and read instructions that will lead me to which option is best for him. We are forced to go with our gut, and what we see as best for him and our family, and just hope for the best.
Another challenge we continue to face is how to discipline our children. There is so much research out there, all claiming to be the best, but pointing in very different direction. Some websites declare that punishment should not be involved. Well, we have already failed at that style. Some experts claim to ignore bad behavior. Well, we tried that for a second. But, the more we ignored my son hitting and biting, the more bruises and blood we saw. That style definitely didn’t work. And, finally, the one I read all the time is to never raise your voice. Oh boy. Are you serious? After asking my son to tie his shoes for the 19th time, it is only natural for me to scream my head off. That attempt flew by the wayside long ago. I just want my children to behave well, be respectful, and be appreciative. This goal is a hell of a lot harder than it seems, and there is no simple instruction on how to reach it.
And, the single most challenging thing I face as a parent is recognizing the benefits of time away from my children. Though I have read a million pieces on how alone time, and doing things for myself are beneficial for my health, I cannot get past the guilt. It is one thing knowing I need to do this; it is another feeling it. I have given in a little lately to accepting help, but still, I struggle from the constant guilt inside saying, “You don’t work. Your job is to be home.” Or, “Nobody takes better care of your kids than you.” Or, “Time with little kids is so short in the grand scheme of life, so spend it with them now. You will have plenty of alone time once they are grown.” My best friend gives me so much shit for this guilt. She insists it is imperative to have extra hands around my house. Why can’t there be a manual that says, “If you are a stay-at-home mom, you need at least x amount of hours a week to yourself.” Or, “Follow these instructions to have the closest relationship possible with your kids. That entails a need for a babysitter this many times a week.”
The truth is, I am stubborn. I am determined. And, I am striving to perfect the most imperfect thing in life: children and raising them. For someone who prefers to follow clear cut instructions to reach an outcome, there are no instructions on how to parent. Each kid is different, each parent varies, and each family is one-of-a-kind. Despite not having a unanimous handbook, we are all in this thing together. We are just doing our best. We are all striving to make the best decisions for our kids to set them up for success. At least I am. But, it is fucking hard.