суббота, 16 марта 2013 г.

Guilt, Glory, and Google

By Christy Heitger-Ewing

Parents who are both conscientious and realistic discover sooner or later that they cannot do the job to their own complete satisfaction, much less to their children's complete satisfaction.
~Thomas Sowell

Ever since becoming a mom, I've been secretly worried that I'm doing it all wrong. Which is why the other day I found myself Googling "how to determine if you're a horrible parent." This came on the heels of my toddler sustaining bloody face injuries for the third day in a row.
Trevyn is my second child so you would think I'd have improved at this mothering thing by now. After all, I have nowhere to go but up. When my older son Kyler was an infant, I took him for a run around the neighborhood. When we returned, I parked the stroller a few feet from the garage, then went to punch in the door code. When I turned around moments later, I was horrified to see that the stroller had rolled down the ever-so-slight slope of my driveway and was now sitting in the middle of the street. As I raced down to get my son, his big brown eyes looked at me as if to say, "Really, Mom? Is that the best parenting job you can do?" I was asking myself the same question, especially when two days later I locked myself out of the house with Kyler still inside.

Kyler is now eight years old so I did successfully get him through his infant and toddler years — and without even one trip to the emergency room! The same can't be said for twenty-one-month-old Trevyn. He was there today because I couldn't stop the blood gushing from his nose. Plus, earlier this week I called emergency personnel to my house when Trev did his impersonation of a flying squirrel and jumped off the couch. He landed hard and when he stood up, bright blood flowed from his mouth and nostrils.

When my husband returned home from work that afternoon, he could see the worry in my eyes. He pulled me close and said, "It's okay. He's fine." My husband's calm tone reassured me, and I finally relaxed and put Trevyn to bed, relieved that I no longer had to fret. Then I walked into the den and found Eric Googling "signs of concussions in toddlers."

"What?" I freaked. "I thought you said he was fine!"

"I'm sure he is," Eric said. "But still — we should be aware."

Aware of what, I wasn't sure. Because Googling medical advice as it relates to your child's wellbeing is bound to leave any parent perplexed, perturbed, and probably more anxious than ever.

Eric found a website that said to be concerned if your tot has a hard time sleeping. Another website stated that it's worrisome if a child sleeps too heavily. (But wait — this would mean he's not having a hard time sleeping. So that's a good thing, right?) A third site suggested watching for fussiness and irritability. Really! My toddler is simultaneously trying to grow teeth, learn how to communicate, and navigate the big, wide world with his short, stubby legs that cannot physically move as fast as his mind thinks they can. Every day he is fussy and irritable.

After two hours of researching the Internet, I didn't know whether I should sing Trevyn soothing lullabies or poke him throughout the night. Ultimately, I let him snooze. Was it the right thing to do? I have no clue. That's half the battle of parenting — trying to determine what's right.

Take yesterday. Was it a good idea to let Trevyn play on my bed while I made it? Clearly not, though it seemed harmless enough given that he had safely played up there many times before. How was I to know my kid was in a roly-poly mood on this day? You know what they say: It's all giggles and laughter until somebody rolls off the bed. Then it's thud, blood, and tears. At least it was at my house.

As I was cleaning the blood off my child's face for the third day straight, I was reminded, once again, why I value Mother's Day so much. I think the holiday supersedes the combined importance of birthday, Valentine's Day, and wedding anniversary. After all, I didn't have to work to grow older, fall in love, or say "I do." But I do have to consistently work at being a decent mommy. Of course, what qualifies as "decent" is debatable.

Despite doing all I can to keep my kids healthy and safe, every time one of them gets hurt physically or emotionally, I find myself asking, "Could I have done better?" I guess that's a pointless question. What's done is done. I try my best to learn from my mistakes and move forward. I try my best — period. I have to continually remind myself that falls and scars, scrapes and cuts, nose bleeds and split lips, even bruised egos and broken hearts, are all part of growing, learning, and living.

There are certainly days when I'm tempted to Google "how to determine if I can survive parenthood." But there's really no need for such a query. I know I can do it because I have my children to help me along the way (and a safety brake on the stroller — what a brilliant invention!).

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