Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Drawing the line

Before the first child is born, even before you know you are pregnant, we moms begin to plan for the day we are actually parents. Even the non planning types at least have an idea of what type of lessons and traits we will share with our children. What we will do and what we will never do. How we are going to help mold these young lives into the most perfect adults ever. I call this hypothetical parenting. We all do it, come on... a sentence beginning with " my kid will never.." was not formed by you? "I will never let my 3 year suck a binkie." "I will never nurse my 8 yr old." " I will never serve alcohol to my teen."

How about " I will always.." I will always research any medical procedure before it is done on my child." " I will always lock the bedroom door before engaging in adult activities with my husband." " I will always take pictures of and document every milestone."

Sometimes we are able to follow through on our early parenting theories. " I will never do drugs with my child." Pretty easy. " I will never let my 5 year old drink from a baby bottle." Not that hard. " I will always take my kid to annual well child exams." Totally do-able. " I will always stop and listen to my child to show them that I respect them." eeeek... wait... what? Every time? I said that? I was sober? huh.

When hypothetical parenting gets tossed aside for the Actual Real Life Parenting... we learn how to draw the line. " I will never let the TV babysit my child" line actually ends up somewhere! The line forms here-" I will never... unless I am busy with something really important like taxes or taking a shower or a really fun conversation about Girls Night Out." " I will always encourage my child in their interests" line ends up over there- " I will always.. unless it is the drums or I have a headache or oh. my. gosh. ANOTHER painting?"

Real life parenting takes our nice hypothetical theories and shoots them right out of the water. And it doesn't take long either. " I will never get pain medication during childbirth, I want to go all natural" KAPOW! " Get that anesthesiologist here STAT before I yank off a part of my husband that he might need later!" " I will never give my child a binkie" KERPLOOOEY! " Wow, she is really quiet with that thing in." " I will never let my child play video games" PING! " Wow, this wii is pretty darn cool."

Sometimes this line drawing fancy dance goes on all throughout childhood. " I will never lie to my child." Heavy groan. In theory very nice. In practice? Santa Clause? Easter Bunny? Aunt Aggies new 'friend'? A child pleading for candy is so quickly squelched with " mommy doesn't have any money". Oh yeah? How about that 20 you hid behind your credit card? Crank up the tunes, Mamma's doing The Hustle!

" I will always put my child's needs first." oh reeeaaly? When faced with no clean clothes other than that If It Swells Ride It frat t-shirt from college you will quickly put Jr Idealist second. Things have to be done. That is a fact of life. Sometimes Spanky learning to amuse himself is one of them. Sometimes facing that we can't possibly know all the answers all the time is another.

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