About a week after I had my first child, my husband shared with me his belief about childbirth. He said that the minute my son was born, my spit turned into a super cleaning agent and that I started to channel my mother in the words and expressions that I was using. Remember, I had just given birth, so my response to this, at the time, was not a chuckle or even a smile. I got defensive. I took it as a put down. I was not able to see it for what it was, a light-hearted joke about the changes in me and our lives. The most interesting part of it all is that to some extent it was basically true.
The only way I knew how to parent was by tapping into my experiences as a child. I was relying on my parents and how they parented to guide my parenting. Now let me be clear here, before my son was born, I had very clear and definite parenting ideas on how and what things I was not going to do. I developed in my mind things that my parents did and did not do, that I was not going to repeat. Through the changes, physical and emotional, that occur before, during, and after the birth of a child, I defaulted to what was familiar to me, and to some extent, I did it unknowingly.
Before we had children, my husband and I would comment about the parenting style of our friends or about children that we saw out and about In the world around us. Comments like, “if I was their parent, I would never do that.” Or “Why isn’t that parent taking care of that child” or “Why is that parent allowing that child to behave that way?” Seriously, why is it when we are outside of a situation we always know what should be done, when in truth we probably have no idea of what is really going on. How did we somehow become an expert on everything around us? I think we all do this to some extent. It basically is judging. Now, if I am honest to some extent my judging has turned to a form of pity. Now, when I see families dealing with struggles, I think, I feel your pain, or I’ve been there, done that. Sometimes I think, Thank God, It’s not me, I am past that happening with my children.
My parenting style has evolved over the years, from my first born, where I had a need to do everything perfectly, (believe me when I say, that I really missed the mark on this), to my third child, where good enough became good enough, and a good day was when I got to take a shower. I have evolved into the parent I am today by a culmination of how I was parented, of my experiences as a parent, how I saw others parent, and of the information on parenting that I sought out from various sources.
For my children, I pray that they take all of the positive and wonderful experiences and teaching moments that we had and pass them onto their children in the form of stories and actions. I also pray that they are able to learn from and let go of the less positive, and rise above them. In my heart, I know who my children are and that if they choose to become parents, they will be amazing. (Not bragging here, just stating a fact!)
As for my spit becoming a cleaning agent, that is true! After I had children (never before) I innately started licking my thumb and rubbing away a smudge here or smear there. It never fails to do the job! Maybe it works because in actuality, it is an action that comes from a place of true caring and unconditional love.