Sunday, December 27, 2009

Parenting is not for Cowards

So says Dobson in his book, "Parenting isn't for Cowards". I was reminded of this as hubby and I finished painting our bathroom last night. Wiping the sweat from his brow, hubby asked how long we would enjoy it. I told him we'd be noticing the flaws for years to come. Moaning, he asked why we bothered in the first place.

It came to me that the ability to look at flaws straight in the face is one of the rites of passage of parenting. I have raised two children. Hubby has not. Being a parent is a humbling experience. Even if you "everything right", each child grows in their own way. Then they hit puberty and they go through this delightful differentiation phase where they become their own people, separate and apart. You realize that all your hard work is only tiny part of who they have become. Even so, they bear the marks of every success and failure in their raising. Just like bumps in our painted wall, or the blob of excess caulking, the flaws show. Chances are, though, visitors won't notice.

I've seen parents take this reality with varying degrees of success. Some reject the flaws, refusing to accept the tarnished reflection they see in the face of their children. It takes a great deal of willpower to resist trying to always set it right. Once our children are adults, the rest of the road belongs to them. If we keep grabbing for the steering wheel, we will kill their confidence and possibly send them permanently off track.
If on the other hand, we can reconcile ourselves to an imperfect life, and even the beauty in nature's flaws, there can be peace. Our spruced up little bathroom is a testament to a hard days's work. If we remember that our bathrooms - and our children - are each beautiful in their own imperfect way, we can relax and enjoy them for what they are.
I've borrowed the picture from another blogger, Out-of-the-Way.