Parenthood suits me. One of my favorite things to do is observe people. This is why I love reading fiction and I love watching movies and TV. I like to think about what makes us how we are--where do our traits and personalities come from? Personality tests are totally my jam too--Meyers-Briggs, the enneagram. Having some algorithm or outside entity tell me what I'm like has often been soothing to me--especially during times when I was really trying to figure myself out. See the reason I will start cleaning the kitchen but not finish is because I'm a "P" which means I get excited to start projects but don't like to finish them. Ah ah! So much insight.
My main parenting goal, I would say, is to provide a supportive and safe environment in which my kids can learn to be themselves. There are lots of sub-goals, of course. I want them to be kind. I want them to have good table manners and to be adventurous eaters. I want them to be curious and interested. I want them to read for pleasure. I want them to see skin color and race and culture and gender and ask questions so they can better understand what those things all mean. I want them to play outside. I want them to be good friends and have good friends. This list could go on and on. The main thing, though, is to give them space and guidance on how to figure out how to listen to the voices inside them. Their guts. Whatever it is that just IS. What we're born with. Our souls?
It is endlessly fascinating. To have four children and watch them--how different they are, the things they have in common, the things they like to do, the strengths they each have. Where does it all come from? What role do my husband and I play in all of this? Parenthood is totally my thing.
It's worth mentioning, however, that I can be very judgmental. Of others and of myself. I have a bad habit, a challenging mindset, that tells me that there is a right way of doing things. I'm probably my most frequent target. Not sure where that comes from but it's there and I have to pay close attention to it, trying not to let it get in the way. I mention it because it comes up as I'm trying to help my kids learn to be themselves. Presumably they will do things and be things that I might not like. I do think I have some influence--that part of raising children is teaching them values, or at least explaining mine.
That's the other part of parenthood that I like--the way it shows me myself in new ways. Why do I react so strongly to certain things? Why do some behaviors piss me off? Why do I think certain things are so important? So many opportunities to observe! I love it. I mean, it can be exhausting and annoying to be observing and thinking so much but a) that's part of who I am and b) that's why I go to yoga, so I can keep learning how to quiet my never-quiet mind.
And finally, there are some things that I hold to be true no matter what when it comes to kids.
It is my responsibility as an adult to do my best to make sure all kids around me are safe.
Being a kid is important and sacred.
Kids are little people. They are as old as they have ever been every time you meet them. They deserve respect and attention.
What I do matters. The way I treat people and treat myself is something they see and learn from.
Kids like and need boundaries. As I an adult, I make the rules and communicate them so that the kids can be safe and not have to worry about who is in charge.
I am learning so much. There are things I do as a parent that I always knew I would do, long before I ever actually had kids. There are other things, many things, that have surprised me and make me question my own views and priorities. It kicks my ass, it makes me smile. Sometimes it makes my heart swell with love, other times I have tunnel vision so I can get through the next five minutes. Why do I think I'm good at it? Because it's who I am, because I love it, because I pay attention and learn so I can do better, and because of some mysterious combination of who I am in my soul and who I've been brought up to be.