Boy has life changed. I chose almost 10 years ago to stay home with my curtain climbers. This is where I WANT to be and my calling for now. I do not miss working outside the home, but what I do miss is the feedback that comes with having a "real job."
They do not send along manuals with those sweet smelling creatures we bring home from the hospital. And they stay sweet smelling for approximately 9 minutes, from my experience. Parenting does not come with many "Standards of Care" that most professions possess. Short of "Keep them alive, don't let them play on the highway or with knives, lay them on their backs and don't put plastic bags in their cribs" the directions available to take in your parenting styles are as numerous as Kardashian faults.
A friend and I recently sat discussing parenting dilemmas we are experiencing with our 9 year olds, for over an hour. Eventually I said, "You know, I would bet my mother rarely wasted hours on end worrying about her parenting!" If she had a friend "to visit" over coffee, we were outside playing. I would imagine as long as no one was breaking bones or windows, parenting was successful. I know I am probably oversimplifying the parenting generation of the 60's and 70's, but I think for the most part, most parents were on the same page. Their world did not revolve around ours, the kids'. It was not a child-centered world. We were spanked, we ate lead paint, and we were to be seen and not heard. We had a couple racks at K-Mart or Sears to pick from for clothes, not entire stores. We had a couple hours of TV to watch, not dozens of channels. Our parents had bridge, gossip, Communists and Soap Operas to discuss, not which method of positive reinforcement to use, which apps to allow on smartphones, and how to control a Minecraft addiction.
Now we are bombarded with "Styles" of parenting. Do I want to be a Helicopter Parent? A Free Range Child Parent? Use Dr. Spock? A granola-crunchy, no dye, gluten, casein, high-fructose corn syrup or taste parent? Do I want to never lie to my child? (Tell me how that works with Santa and the Tooth Fairy....) Do I let them cry themselves to sleep or CoSleep? Do I want to spare the rod and spoil the child? Should I make sure I control them and show them I'm boss? Should I never say no, because it may damage their soul forever? The styles go on and on and on. I don't think our parents realize the assault of opinions regarding Parenting we are under. And this doesn't include the competition of Parenting that can exist either. (Thanks a lot Pinterest.) I know what I want the end product of my childrens' upbringing to be, but there is no clear navigational beacons to get to that point. I want to give them pieces of what I had growing up, blended with pieces I wished I would have had. But the reality is many times I feel like I'm floating in a boat on an ocean of parenting buzz words, wondering if today is the day that will be extracted from my kids' subconscious minds after a mere 2 years in therapy when they are in their 30's.
We are so quick to brag up our kids. Their grades, their looks, their successes and wins. We crave the feedback and accolades. However rarely do we post on Facebook: "My daughter said I was the worst mom EVER!" or "My son said he hates me, and I ended up in a puddle of snot and tears in my bedroom." But we should. We need to. However with honesty come vulnerability.
Parenting doesn't come with Peer Reviews, but that is, hands-down, what I miss most about my "real job." I wish I could get a quarterly review from my peers that says something like, "Great job on keeping the processed food-stuff to a minimum, but you could work on your shouting. We find your chore chart highly effective, but you need to monitor your tendency to cave to their relentless begging."
Too often, the only feedback we get, here in the trenches, is not glowing. It is the stink-eye from the woman in the grocery store when there is a meltdown over the wrong Lunchable available. It is the 30-something single man in front of you in the airplane groaning because your 3 year old has discovered the tray table. It is the well-meaning advice from loved ones that you appreciate, but wished it was served with any heaping side of accolade.
There exists no skills checklist in Parenting, and many days I don't know how the hell I am doing. Somedays I feel like a rock-star, and many I feel like I just suck at it. A close friend who is a few years ahead of me in the trenches assures me this means I am doing it well. I don't know, but she has paid a lot of money and done a lot of years of schooling to be a councelor, so maybe I will trust her.
When I am floundering in a sea of self-doubt in my parenting, it is my Mom I miss the most. She stayed home for years with us, and let us all live. I just wish on those days when I want to hide under my bed because my daughter is on her third meltdown by 9:30am over breakfast choices, the dog has eaten the pile of poop left in the yard by my 3 year old, I can't sufficiently explain WHY, to his liking, my 9 year old can NOT play 6 hours of video games, the 3 year old has locked the keys in the car, and my daughter has yet to let me comb her hair in 4 days, she was still here. She could say something. Anything. She would get it.
The reality is, being a Mom is who I am now. It is most of my identity. I am not a teacher and a Mom, or a Physician and a mom, or an exotic dancer and a mom. I am a Mom, with some hobbies. And that is probably why I fret and worry and stress about how I am doing. I don't have a lot to fall back on...
"My children grew up to be a serial killer, a professional Hobo and a Cougar's boytoy, BUT I cured cancer, and created an app to remind Mothers to put on pants, so all is good."
Nope, that isn't going to happen. My current work is with investments that are long term. As with any investments there exists a risk of it all crashing down, and market analysis of the last 9+ years shows steady growth with some hills and valleys. And definately a lot of Bear and Bull activity... I am staking everything on these 3 investments, and I know that they and more so, their characters, are going to be the legacy on which I will hang my pride... hopefully.