Yesterday I was asked what my biggest parenting obstacle was and how I’ve overcome it. It’s a tough question, but I knew my answer right away.
When Julian was born, I wanted to be the best mother in the history of the world. And to me, that meant doing it all myself. In the early months, I wanted to hold him, feed him, dress him, plan his childhood, and I didn’t want any help from anyone except my husband.
I had to loosen the reins because of some other deserving stakeholders. His grandparents also wanted to be the best grandparents in the history of the world — and I had to let them in even though I didn’t really want to share my baby. Over time, I got more comfortable accepting help from others, and now I can see that sharing parenting duties has two great values.
First is that other people have wonderful gifts to offer my children. And I don’t mean more stuffed animals. I mean that different dispositions and communication styles, as well as different passions and senses of humor are things that I want my kids exposed to. Family members as well as paid caregivers bring new perspectives into our world, and that’s a good thing.
The second reason I can’t do it all myself is that I CAN’T DO IT ALL MYSELF. Good god, children, must you really ask for dinner every night and breakfast every morning, even on the weekends? As the spot-on e-card reminds us, there are no vacations from parenting, and I now appreciate every opportunity I have to catch a break, to socialize in adult settings, to read a book in silence, to take a productive business trip. In the first few months, however, I did not yet crave that separation. I think it kicks in at different times for different people, and I’ll look forward to hearing what you all say.
School, grandparents (and restaurants!) are important to my sanity. And the woman who cleans my house twice per month, too. Let’s not forget her.
I love knowing that I’m the biggest influence on my children’s lives. Just as I fantasized when I was growing up, I am their role model, their cheerleader, their first teacher. I show them how the world works, how to wrap a present, how to talk to babies, how to use sarcasm as humor, and how to wash their own hair. But I’m not going to teach them long division, prepare every meal they ever ingest, or meet every need they’ll ever have. I need “the village” to protect my sanity.