Parenting is both the best and the hardest job I’ve ever done. I suppose now, with 25 years of experience under my belt, it’s a little easier than in the early days. But a word to the wise: don’t pin your hopes on that distant day when the kids leave home for college, thinking that your work will be done. I’m here to tell you: the job of parenting is never done.
In the past couple of days I’ve dealt with a couple of parenting issues; minor in the scheme of things, but they still required deliberate application of some of the skills I’ve learned over the past 25 years.
Lesson Number One:
It’s absolutely okay to put yourself above your kids…SOMETIMES.
Yesterday Middle proposed that her car rather than mine should always be the one kept in the garage in the winter (old house, single-car garage) because she has to leave for student teaching at 6:30 am and doesn’t have much time to defrost, scrape ice, etc. I almost bought into this argument. After all, 6:30 is damned early. As a former teacher, I’ve been there. She’s got a lot of stress, and I could give her this little gift.
But then I had second thoughts. So here was my final answer: “Ummm…sorry. I’ve had to deal with crappy car situations for over thirty years, and it’s my turn for a little luxury. My car stays in the garage.”
Note: The Husband is extremely chivalrous about the vehicles – he would never keep his car in the garage if it meant the women of the house having to deal with snow and ice. I’m perfectly happy to accept this status quo.
Lesson Number Two:
You don’t have to be a hero.
I woke up this morning to a text from The Boy, who is in his third year of college and will be 21 in a couple of months. He’s out of checks, needs more to pay for his flight lessons, and wondered if I could order more for him.
In one respect this was an easy one; I don’t have any of his duplicates, so I don’t have his account and routing numbers to read off to the customer service folks at the bank, so no, I can’t order for him.
On the other hand, it was tempting for me to say, “Give me the numbers off your check and I’ll take care of it for you.” I’ve got a lot more free time than he does, I’ve done it before, it would only be a few minutes out of my day. Plus he’s my baby. I love doing things for him.
Reason prevailed, thank goodness. I texted him back instructions for ordering checks, with the suggestion that he go to his bank and request a teller’s check if necessary, to pay for his next flight lesson. I mean, really. I’m glad he’s getting his pilot’s license – it’s been a dream all his life. But, bottom line, it’s a little frivolous. And he’s very bright and capable. He doesn’t need me to save him on this one.
Both of these situations, as small as they were, were tough for me. I want to be the generous hero, giving myself 100% to my kids. But I know that’s not the healthiest way for any of us to live.
Parenting…it’s for life.