I am continually amazed at the level of responsibility and time it takes to parent a child well. I'm faced with it at my job, where I can visibly see results of excellent parenting. Some parents of my students are just amazing people! I am also seeing it at home, when I'm tired and overwhelmed by the job of parenting my (1) little girl. My sister has three children, and I'm stunned by her ability to parent all of them.
Mother's Day came and went, and I ended up in the emergency room with my little girl, who climbed up high enough to reach the shelf upon which some cough/allergy medicine was placed. ("Yum, Yum," she told me. "Candy!")
I was absolutely terrified, although it turns out that she ended up just fine and hadn't taken a huge dose--just enough to scare the crap out of me. I went home and cleaned out the entire medicine closet, dumping old baby clothes out of a tupperware and filling it up with bottles and then placing it on the top, uppermost shelf of my closet.
What is worse about making mistakes as a parent is that they tend to be visible for all to see. You feel like an idiot. In my husband's family, whenever something happens, everyone is on their cell phones passing the word along. My guilty feelings make me even more sensitive to any word of criticism, however well-intentioned.
In my life, I've rarely experienced personal or academic failure. But I'm absolutely terrified of failing as a parent. It feels to me as if there's no room for failure when you're responsible for the life of a child. Let's just say it's been a tough week to confront some of my worst fears of failure. I admire greatly those women who manage to make it look easy and seem to naturally have the common sense to handle situations with sufficient rationality and poise.
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