Monday, January 23, 2012

Brain Dump

I have no clear idea about what I'm going to write. I think you need to know this going in.

The other morning on the way home from CrossFit, I caught the end of a local morning show on the radio. To my pleasant surprise, they were talking about homeschooling, and the discussion was generally very favorable. Everyone seemed to think there were lots of ways for homeschooled kids to meet up and hang out with other kids (and there are).

Unfortunately, the people in the discussion irritated me a lot by providing a good deal of misinformation about the legal requirements here in Georgia. Did they not have an intern look this up before the show? The male host incorrectly stated that we need to get "approval" or "permission" from the state to homeschool, including approval of our curriculum. When one of the others in the discussion challenged him on this, he got a bit defensive. There was some other misinformation, too.

Please note: In Georgia, we do not beg permission nor seek approval from the state or school board to homeschool. We inform them that we are doing so. There is no approval process, nor can they deny you. You inform; they file a piece of paperwork. For more information about the actual laws about homeschooling in Georgia, visit the HEIR website.

Some parenting articles I've enjoyed recently:

"Don't Carpe Diem," because THIS:

I think parenting young children (and old ones, I've heard) is a little like climbing Mount Everest. Brave, adventurous souls try it because they've heard there's magic in the climb. They try because they believe that finishing, or even attempting the climb are impressive accomplishments. They try because during the climb, if they allow themselves to pause and lift their eyes and minds from the pain and drudgery, the views are breathtaking. They try because even though it hurts and it's hard, there are moments that make it worth the hard. These moments are so intense and unique that many people who reach the top start planning, almost immediately, to climb again. Even though any climber will tell you that most of the climb is treacherous, exhausting, killer. That they literally cried most of the way up. 
And so I think that if there were people stationed, say, every thirty feet along Mount Everest yelling to the climbers -- "ARE YOU ENJOYING YOURSELF!? IF NOT, YOU SHOULD BE! ONE DAY YOU'LL BE SORRY YOU DIDN'T!" TRUST US!! IT'LL BE OVER TOO SOON! CARPE DIEM!" -- those well-meaning, nostalgic cheerleaders might be physically thrown from the mountain.
I try to carpe diem all the time, but not at all in the appreciate every single thing because you'll miss it when it's over way. I think that even when you are carpe-ing the diem, you should be doing that according to your values. I do NOT carpe the diem over temper tantrums (unless they are kind of funny or cute) or epic battles with my 9 year old. I do NOT carpe the diem about mounds of laundry or stepping on LEGOs.

I DO carpe the diem all the time--I appreciate the important moments, small and big, and try to pause and appreciate them for what they are. But there's no way I can carpe diem every single moment--it's just impossible and would take up too much energy, for one thing. And for another, it doesn't make sense to me.  Hierarchy of values. It's a good thing to have.

Along this line, I enjoyed this post by Kim: "Embracing the Changes."  I am enjoying each age and stage of each of my kids. Knowing that Sean is the third and final installment of The Offspring Trilogy, I was worried I'd sort of mourn each time he moved on to something new. And I don't. In fact, I'm celebrating each new stage of his development with as much energy and enthusiasm as I did the other two kids--maybe even a little bit more because, at least right now, each stage he reaches generally means that my life becomes just a bit easier.

Another good parenting article: "To the Mother with Only One Child."

Dear mother of only one child, don’t blame yourself for thinking that your life is hard. You’re suffering now because you’re turning into a new woman, a woman who is never allowed to be alone. For what? Only so that you can become strong enough to be a woman who will be left. 
When I had only one child, she was so heavy. Now I can see that children are as light as air. They float past you, nudging against you like balloons as they ascend.

I completely agree with this feeling. When it was just Ryan, he felt heavy and I felt burdened and overwhelmed. I am busier with three, yes, but I am freer and lighter and calmer and better. Can I just say that I love being a Mommy?

One more and that will end my brain dump for today. Katie Granju has a new post called "Right or Wrong: I Don't Know How I Did It" up at Babble.

But I remember very, very clearly how it felt in the beginning to believe with every fiber of my being that my children would pretty much automatically grow into the right kinds of teenagers, and then into superlative adults who would serve as a public reflection of my own stellar success as their mother. After all, that’s how it had worked for pretty much everyone else in my family. None of us grew up to be drug addicts or dropouts or to go to jail. So I would simply follow the same general parenting blueprint as my own parents and grandparents, and just as it worked for them, it would work for me. 
That’s what I believed, and intended to do. And frankly, in hindsight, I was delusionally confident that my outcome-based parenting would generally work out just as I planned.

I know I've talked about this and probably written about it too--parenting is a very important endeavor, but it is a process not an outcome. How you choose to handle parenting situations matters--it matters to your kid, but it also matters to you (or should).

But great parenting does not necessarily guarantee that your kid will make great choices in his life. (Damn you, free will!) Being a crappy parent does not necessarily guarantee that your kid will make crappy choices in his life. (I love you, free will!) We all want our kids to grow up and be happy and well-adjusted productive adults. I think good parenting is conducive to this, but it is not sufficient.

Which is scary to consider, especially if you are a Type A person like me who likes to be in complete control and have all your bases covered to minimize every single risk ever. It is scary, terrifying really, to think that my precious babies could decide to make horrible life-ending choices like Katie's son did. But I know that is a possibility.

And I also know that it's a possibility they'll make good or great or mediocre choices in their lives too--and when the outcomes of those choices of theirs are good, then I cannot be the one to take credit for those outcomes.

What I can take credit (or blame) for is doing my very best to get them launched out into the world while living as virtuous a life as I could each and every single day. I can take credit (or blame) for handling each parenting challenge in a certain way, for handling MYSELF in each parenting challenge, I should say.

Basically, I strive to handle each parenting challenge according to my parenting principles and to be as virtuous as I can be, and to fix mistakes if I make them (including taking measures to prevent future similar mistakes).

And no matter what they decide to do with their lives when they are older, I will be able to say that I did my very, very best. Because, important as they are, what matters to me even more is how I live MY life, whether I can look myself in the mirror. And that is selfish parenting, I think.

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