My friend, Leslie, posted this article and besides the fact that it’s incredibly moving and heartbreaking I was trying to figure out why her story seems sort of freeing to me. I don’t mean to say that I’d like to be in her situation. I don’t think any parent would want that. I’m intrigued that her journey in having a terminally ill child has freed her from a heaviness that a LOT of parents struggle with; parenting for the future.
She mentions that her style of parenting isn’t typical because her son has no future so their family must focus on now; enjoying kisses, naps together, cuddles and kisses and little milestones that will be very short-lived. Over the past six or so years I have come across so many books, magazines and blogs that try to point a parent towards a better and brighter future for their child. In the end I have literally thrown books across the room because I’ve felt that I can’t possibly live up to the standard that’s set before me by “experts” or just mommy bloggers who seem to have it all figured out. “Homeschool your kids in order to ensure they will actually be smart and creative. Teach them to read at age four, so that they can live a productive life without the likes of Elmo and Power Rangers. Give them enrichment classes and enable them explore their inner creative genius. Spend every waking moment intentionally investing into your kids to ensure they have a better future, you know, the one you wish you had!”
Dramatic? Me? I don’t believe any of these models are wrong, per se. But I have felt an enormous pressure to do it all properly, to have thought through any and all of the implications on how I parent. What lies behind all of this intentionality seems to be so future focused; so they don’t end up screwed up; so they change the world by how well I’ve trained them! It makes it hard for me to relax and enjoy today with them.
I recently read The Idle Parent and had a good laugh. For a few days I even felt so free to be ok with my own imperfections as a parent. It was glorious to not feel the daily pressure of parental failure. I’m certain most of the message comes from the Western-cultural view that we are to make our mark and leave the world different than we found it; become Steve Jobs! “He changed the world, what’s your excuse”….slacker!
This article moved me in a variety of ways. It must be unbelievable to lose a child. I have a few friends who have and the grief they carry is alien to me. Yet, her language suggested a freedom to live and enjoy her child now; to let the future take care of itself and to deal with it when it comes. Something else that is total alien to me. I am trying though. What’s your excuse?