Monday, August 2, 2010


Tonight I was restless and cranky. All I ever want to do when I'm pregnant, all three times, is read fiction. Immerse myself in something I can forget myself in, something I've had an insatiable drive for since I learned to read at four years old, some other world that is beautifully written and peopled with fascinating souls. I just finished my last unread book. PLUS I had a really strong craving for CHOCOLATE BROWNIES, which I can't have. Definitively not. So I stomped around, banging the cupboards for chocolate-like foods with no calories and lots of protein, but said cupboards were decidedly lacking in said foods, which made me crankier.
I pulled out my Deceptively Delicious cookbook and turned to the Desserts section, flirting with making brownies or gingerbread loaf or chocolate chip cookies, but the pregnancytired factor saved me and I decided it was too much work. I compromised by making myself hot chocolate with cinnamon added. It's not a baked good, it has chocolate, it's mostly milk, and it will curb my craving. The milk even has protein in it! Though admittedly lots of calories. Hey, it's not CHOCOLATE BROWNIES. How I wish for a normal pancreas that can handle the normal foods most women can eat and have 7 lb babies. Sigh.
Then I went to my bookshelf and pulled off Bill Cosby's Fatherhood. I've read this before, but not since I had kids. I've seen his standup routine on parenthood where he insists that children don't make sense while you're raising them because they are BRAIN DAMAGED, and it is *FOOKING* hilarious!!! I love Cosby's take on parenthood. He takes all the pressure and tension and worry and striving and self control and anxiety and stress I build up over attachmentparenting gentleparenting responsiveparenting don't-fook-your-kid-up parenting just go PSHHHHHHHTTTT!!!!! And begone. I mean, he has tons of love for his kids. He has five of them! And, of course, most of what he says is tongue-in-cheek. However, this is how he sums it up:

Yes, having a child is surely the most beautifully irrational act that two people in love can commit. Having had five qualifies me to write this book but not to give you any absolute rules because there are none. Screenwriter William Goldman has said that, in spite of all the experience that Hollywood people have in making movies, "Nobody knows anything." I sometimes think the same statement is true of raising children. In spite of the six thousand manuals on child raising in the bookstores, child raising is still a dark continent and no one really knows anything. You just need a lot of love and luck

I mean, I really do try. And I really believe deeply that kids are gentlehearted creatures that need lots of demonstrations of love, and an empathetic ear, and good models of self control and expected behavior, and care for their souls. But gosh, sometimes I sure get tired of the parenting holier than holies. Raise your kids in the manner you see fit! But sometimes on blogs or parenting sites or the comments sections of FB or other articles, the didacticism comes out. You know, the tyrants. I read somewhere recently someone posted a comment to the effect that parents who feed their kids MacDonald's should be charged with child abuse. MWHAAA? Or one of the blogs I follow has this on her heading:


Of course, she is free to post whatever she wants on her blog, and I'm free to read it or pass it by. I am not really saying she shouldn't SAY whatever she wants to say, but then I'm wishing on the other hand that we would all just be a little more flexible. I mean, I might not have a lily white arse, for one thing. I'm sure lots of different coloured people let their babies cry themselves to sleep. But what starts as a philosophy somehow turns into religious dogma. And I hate the implication that there is ONE BEST WAY to do anything, including raise kids. There are lots of good ways. There are lots of bad ways too, I suppose. But no matter how close we hold our parenting philosophies to our hearts, in the end we're all just guessing. If this is God's design, would He not necessarily have added in flexibility in children, to grow and thrive under a variety of conditions and parenting styles? There are absolutes. For sure. There are bottom lines. But are they as high up or as universal or as important as they are touted to be? I sure hope not. Otherwise I FAIL.

Cosby says this:

The First Parent Had Trouble, Too

Whenever your kids are out of control, you can take comfort from the thought that even God's omnipotence did not extend to His kids. After creating the heaven, the earth, the oceans, and the entire animal kingdom, God created Adam and Eve. And the first thing He said to them was "Don't"--he hurled no negatives at the elephant--but to the brightest of His creatures, the ones who get into Yale, He said, "Don't."
"Don't what?" Adam replied.
"Don't eat the forbidden fruit.
"Forbidden fruit? Really? Where is it?"
Is this beginning to sound familiar? You never realized that the pattern of your life had been laid down in the Garden of Eden.
"It's over there," said God, wondering why He hadn't stopped after making the elephants.
A few minutes later, God saw the kids having an apple break and He was angry.
"Didn't I tell you not to eat that fruit?" the First Parent said.
"Uh-huh," Adam replied.
"Then why did you?"
"I don't know," Adam said.
At least he didn't say, "No problem."
"All right then, get out of here! Go forth, become fruitful, and multiply!"
This was not a blessing but a curse: God's punishment was that Adam and Eve should have children of their own. And so, they moved to the east of Eden, which was still the good part of town, and they had your typical suburban family: a couple of dim-witted boys. One of these boys couldn't stand the other; but instead of just leaving Eden and going to Chicago, he had to kill him.
Thus the pattern was set and it never has changed. But there is reassurance in this story for those of you whose children are not doing well. If you have lovingly and persistently tried to give them wisdom and they haven't taken it, don't be hard on yourself. If God had trouble handling children, what makes you think it would be a piece of cake for you?

Wowsa, this man is funny. So I feel all better from my earlier grouchiness. I drank some hot chocolate to satisfy my chocolate craving without TOO much sugar ingested, and I read a really funny non fiction book by Cosby.

Sometimes I spank my kids. There. I said it. I can't put the I'm a Gentle Parent widget on my sidebar, but somehow in the end, I think my kids will turn out okay. I don't beat them. I don't even spank them that often. But sometimes, it happens. I don't think these are my best parenting moments, but neither are they my worst ones! And I get tired of the judgement from some sets of parents for other sets of parents, regardless of which set's philosophy I agree with, because we're all just doing THE BEST WE CAN!
And, as my friend Tamie says, we're enough. The best we can is enough. We are all enough, just as we are, and doing the best we can is heroic! And beautiful.


Caryn Ouwehand said...

This was the cats pajamas right here:

"And I hate the implication that there is ONE BEST WAY to do anything, including raise kids. There are lots of good ways. There are lots of bad ways too, I suppose. But no matter how close we hold our parenting philosophies to our hearts, in the end we're all just guessing."

Amen sista.

I also cant stand all the Hollier-than-thous out there when it comes to parenting. And just so you know, I have spanked Silas a couple times for the big no-nos. Example: In my opinion, him running out into the street right after I told him to stand beside me while we walked deserved a spanking. Some parents would say I was over the line. But I know I am not spanking him out of my own anger, but out of loving concern for his safety.

In terms of Mr. Cosby. Love that man.

Tonya said...

Thanks for that post. That's the kind of friends we all need to be to each other - nonjudgmental! Kids are not all the same, parents are not all the same. Every family has it's unique dynamics. And, as I've said before, parenting is the HARDEST thing you will ever do. The last thing you need is a bunch of people nitpicking you over the way you do it. You know, the whole "don't eat McD's, don't cry it out, don't ever spank" thing is legalism. That's all it is. There is no grace in that for a parent who is tired, has a car full of cranky kids who are hungry and McD's is easy. There's no grace in there for a parent who learns that sometimes spanking IS gentle parenting - the other option being screaming at them! :-)