What if I really don’t know what I’m doing? Am I a good mother, a good parent? Am I giving BoyGenius everything he needs to get by in life, to survive, to thrive, to become a sensitive, caring adult?
I try to give him what I think is right, to teach him how to behave, how to think for himself. I think I’m allowing his self-confidence to grow while holding him tight enough to still feel connected. Every once in awhile I wonder if I’m doing the right thing(s).
Should I be cutting the crusts off of BoyGenius’ sandwiches or should I be making him eat them? Should I leave the mushrooms or the stuffing off of his plate because I know he doesn’t like them or should I keep serving him everything we have even though I know he’s not going to eat it?
Is it wrong that BoyGenius watched Irish movies with me (“they sure say ‘fook’ a lot!”) when he was 3 or 4? Should Scott Pilgrim vs. the World have become his favourite movie at age 6? How do I know? Does he know there are ‘bad’ words? Yes. Does he use them? No. Is it wrong that BoyGenius tried to explain the facts of life to his school friend at age 4 (“isn’t that right Mama, the girl has the seed and the boy has the egg?”)? Sure, he was a little mixed up but boy was I ever proud of him for being on the right track!
Are HardWorker and I giving him the best home, the best family? Is it right that I’m not working? Should our home be immaculate? Does he have too much stuff, too many toys? Is he eating enough fruit and veg; too much cheese? Does he drink enough milk? Should he be outside more? Is it wrong to let him play at the park every day after school? Do we stay too long or not long enough? Are we eating too late because we stayed at the park or went to a friend’s house? Should dinner be ready every day at 5pm even though HardWorker doesn’t make it home until 6:30 or later? Should I wait and start dinner when we’re all here? Does consistent bedtime leave room for any negotiation or is it a hard and fast line?
Should I be at the school more or less? Do I know my child well enough to know which teacher will give him the best opportunity for learning? I think so. Should I be ensuring that he gets placed with that teacher or should I always wait and see and let him tough it out if it’s not a good fit? (Having been through a horrendous time in grade 1 I know what my answer to this is.)
BoyGenius has broken his arm 1-2 times (depends on which Dr and which x-ray you see). Should I stop him from jumping off the swings or should I demonstrate the proper take-off and landing techniques? Is there anything wrong with letting him climb trees? I know he sits on tiny little branches that look like they won’t hold a squirrel let alone a 60+ pound boy but he rocks that perch like it’s a lounge chair! He climbs the soccer goals (sans nets) on the local field and then shimmies along the cross bar and back, then hangs upside down and waves before flipping back up and sliding down using a combination koala grip/firefighter style. Just about every time we pass the baseball diamond in the schoolyard he’s climbed up to the top of the backstop in a matter of seconds. “How does he get up there?” “Is he allowed to climb up there?” “Why do you let him do that?” “What if he falls?” These are questions from kids; the parents just shake their heads. If I ask him not to go too near the edge where the fencing is loose, he listens. If I ask him not to attempt the open crossing between the top of the backstop and the neighbouring fence he listens … most of the time. Mostly what I tell him is to be careful. He is. What I told him originally was “go ahead and climb, pretty soon your feet won’t fit in the chain link and you won’t be able to get a grip.” Was that not the right thing to do?
Is it okay to let him grow his hair long or not? Does it matter that he mismatches his socks on purpose (but has a method to it)? Should I care that he likes to wear his shirts inside out every once in awhile? Does the fact that I let him do all of these things make me a good parent or a bad one? We never wore our clothes inside out … we probably would have been told not to, but I don’t believe the thought ever occurred to us in the first place. We climbed trees. We jumped off swings (when we weren’t hanging upside down from them). Were my parents good parents? Looking back, I’d say yes and I’d say it wholeheartedly without hesitation. Did I ever give it any thought when I was a child? No. Did we fight with them because they didn’t let us do things? No. Did we ever question whether they knew what they were doing? No. Did they ever question if they were doing the right thing(s)? I don’t know. They didn’t ever seem unsure or confused. I’ll have to ask my mom about it sometime.
BoyGenius is a caring, sensitive, loving child. He isn’t just smart, he’s clever and witty and sometimes eerily aware of things I don’t think he could possibly know. He scares me. Well, I don’t know if that’s quite right; his future scares me. What if I make the wrong decision about letting him stay at a birthday party by himself? What if he loses his grip while sliding down the banister? What if I’m not teaching him the right things? What happens when he gets picked on for having two moms instead of everyone thinking it’s cool? Who am I to have made that decision about having a baby? What if something happens to me? Should he know that I get scared, get sad sometimes? Or should he think that I have all the answers? Should I be teaching him to love fully and completely and unconditionally even if it hurts? Or should I teach him to protect his heart?
What if I get it wrong? What if I’ve been wrong all along?