I’ve been thinking a lot lately about our hypothetical children. Bill and I decided very early on that, when the time came, we wanted to have kids. (For the record, that time has not come yet.) If there had been any dispute regarding this topic, there would be no “we.” But for the longest time, that’s as far as our discussions went—minus the occasional “our kids are gonna starve because we’re such bad cooks” joke.
Of course, I’ve spent quite a bit of time silently wondering about them—about their tiniest details. I’ve imagined little boys playing in the dirt, learning to ride bikes, wanting to ride four-wheelers, trying to throw a baseball twice the size of their hands. I’ve imagined little girls in tiaras and tutus, with chocolate on their cheeks and music in their hearts. I’ve compiled a list of baby names eight pages long. I’ve prayed that they’ll inherit Bill’s smile, my eyesight, his height, my optimism, his calm demeanor, my energy and his coordination (or at least not inherit my lack thereof).
But lately, I’ve been thinking much less about the things they’ll inherit from us and much more about the lessons they’ll learn from us. I suppose it’s because we seem to be surrounded by pregnancy and small children these days, but I have been worrying a lot more about just how we’re going execute this loosely formed plan to raise perfect little pumpkins.
I think it’s only natural for adults, female adults anyways, to criticize our own childhoods. Sometimes I wish I’d gotten in trouble more often, that I hadn’t been so serious. I wish I hadn’t quit ballet, that I’d practiced more for band, that I’d actually stuck with a sport—or at least that I’d fought a little harder for my place on the cheerleading squad. I wish I’d had more confidence and that I’d cried a few less tears. But in my heart of hearts, I know that each side of the decision coin comes with its own drawbacks and its own pain. I know that no matter what choices I’d made, I’d probably be sitting here as an adult thinking about how things could have been different.
I just worry that, as many parents do, I might project all my adolescent regrets on those hypothetical angels. I worry that in wanting what’s best for them—in looking out for them—I’ll lose my ability to actually see them. I believe a child’s demeanor is a clear reflection of the adult they’ll one day become, if allowed to do so.
I guess what it comes down to is that I can’t seem to figure out how strongly or gently you guide them through life. There are so many things about parenting that I don’t yet know. I believe a lot of those things can be learned along the way. But I feel that steering their choices is the kind of thing that can get out of control if, rather early on, you don’t have an agreed upon plan and make the conscious effort to stick it.
And considering I’m still undecided on this matter, I can’t help but wonder…
Is it the kind of thing that differs for every parent or differs for every child?
Do some kids need more guidance than others?
Maybe we simply have to do our best to respond to each child’s needs, and in doing so we have to let our philosophy flex and change.
Maybe I’ll just ask Momma…