Thursday, 15 November 2012
47. Parenting styles
We just came back from a very restful weekend in Bali but the following day saw me crashing back to ‘reality’ with a giant thump! Ahhh…..that mountain-load of ‘enticing’ laundry, beckoning at the end of each holiday…but it is what it is. So, by noon, I had powered through two loads of washing, taken Buddy to the groomers, done the food shop and gone on my 10-km run. As I struggled through the door with the groceries, Matt looked up from his Maths session with Tia and said, “Oh, the groomers called and I think Buddy is ready to be picked up.” Off I trudged again, then made lunch for the hungry mob, drove Matt to work, came home, more laundry and then prepared dinner. I think you get the picture..
At some point during dinner, Tia turned to me and cheekily asked if I had done my piano practise. Unfortunately for her, we weren’t on the same ‘comedy channel’ at that moment as I recounted every-single-task I had ‘slaved’ through that day, asked if anyone accomplished anything beyond lounging around reading or watching TV, and then dared her to re-ask the question. Of course, in hindsight, that was a little harsh. After all, I only had to ask and the girls would have pitched in. But no, I wanted them to help out because they thought of it and not because I asked them to. I know, I know. I am beginning to sound like a crazy woman.
I came across an interview a few weeks ago whereby multi-talented Australian actor-singer-dancer-extraordinaire-all-round-decent-and-wonderful-human-being-and-husband Hugh Jackman, aka Wolfman from the X-men franchise, shared his thoughts on parenting. What? Did I just sound like I have a celebrity crush? Awww, you caught me out. But I am only human! Anyhow, Hugh (Haha! First name basis! If only!) talked about how he “yells at his kids, they drive him to despair, he worries that his deficiencies as a parent mean he is slowly but surely stuffing them up”. He also talked about and how children can push your buttons and make you feel such extreme emotions, and the anger or fire they can sometimes incite. I was like, “Oh my goodness! That is EXACTLY how I feel!” So its just as well I’m not married to Hugh Jackman because it just wouldn’t work out with both of us stressing about the same things. Sorry Hugh.
My beautiful husband Matt, on the other hand, has such a wonderful approach to parenthood. When I read out an excerpt from that same article about how so-and-so’s mom said, “Relax, you worry too much. You feed them, you love them, that’s it”, it was his turn to have his that-is-EXACTLY-how-I-feel moment. I sometimes feel envious of Matt and those of my friends who have this wonderful parenting style whereby they are so attuned to seeing the big picture and able to block out the ‘other stuff’ that, in actuality, is just ‘noise’ ...
But I cannot because at least every other day (if not everyday), there are ‘boxes’ that need to be ticked, exploits that need undertaking and ‘fires’ that need putting out. AND, if we were BOTH laissez-faire and make-it-up-as-we-go-along, would our household still work the way it works (on a good day)? Or would those ‘little things’ fall through the cracks because non-verbal clues were missed? Would the girls learn to think beyond themselves, realise the importance of dreaming, or master the tools needed to pick themselves up and try again with a little fine-tuning? Am I beginning to sound a little hysterical again? Sorry. Okay, deep breath and stop panicking over all the ‘what-would-happens’.
At the end of the day, I don’t purport to be ‘superwoman’ and do not even try to pretend to have all the answers. Honest with my girls about my shortcomings, I am not afraid ask for help and try to encourage the girls to go on fact-finding missions when appropriate. And with three such different individuals whose needs demand that my parenting style is constantly refined and modified as per child and situation; sometimes my appeals for us to work together as a team so the day is smoother works, and other times, not so well. But it’s the life I have chosen and I am at peace with it. All we can do is try our best to prepare them to stand confidently and successfully on their own two feet by giving them love, inspiring courage and fostering integrity.