The Family

The Family

Thursday, January 31, 2013

For When You Don't Have the Answers

Don't let anyone fool you.  Parenting is tough.

There are days, like the past two, that make me want to throw my hands in the air and throw a tantrum of my own to the chorus of : "I DON'T KNOW, I DON'T KNOW, I DON'T KNOW."

Because I don't.

Like yesterday when the weather looked like it was about to get scary bad right as I was leaving for work. Our babysitter could sense my anxiety and told me she would be more than happy to drive up to campus with me and keep the kids there for a few hours.

I wavered - if I do then Mattie might never get to sleep, Jack will probably be bored out of his mind and I will be seen as that nutcase, overprotective mom. But if I don't do it and there is that tornado warning that the forecasters were saying was imminent, what then?

I knew I would be in a panic.

So off we all went to campus only to be soaked to the bone from the blowing monsoon by the time we made it into my office and then having the ominous predictions die away within minutes.


Or today when Jack made that trip to the dentist he's been dreading, and we found out he had cavities. I knew as much because I've seen the spots while brushing his teeth.

Now Matt and I have to decide if he is going to have all the work done the dentist is recommending. I don't want my child walking around with a mouthful of rotten teeth, but some of this stuff seems extreme.

Add to that Mattie's massive meltdown in the buggy at Target about an hour later. The meltdown continued as she flailed in my arms while the sales clerk tried to talk to me and it seemed like 1,500 people were in line behind us staring.

Then there are the guilt trips about the multitude of decisions.

Did I make the right choice? What will happen if I do? What will happen if I don't? Why can't I be like so-and-so? Am I screwing up my kids? Should we just leave all this stuff on the conveyor belt and make a dash for the car? Should he be eating that Pop-Tart after what we learned today?

On and on they go.

I know turning those questions over in my mind does no good. I know that worry is futile, but knowing that fact doesn't seem to prevent it.

There are many decisions no book or 12-point instruction manual could cover. Two months from now these decisions facing me will be long forgotten in the wake of new doubts and confusion.

I'm also fairly certain I'm not the only parent that feels like I have no clue some days.

Several years ago a teenage girl in a church group I participated in was relaying some advice her mother had given her the night before. Her daughter had been complaining about the way her boyfriend's dad treated him and her mother wisely said to her in response: "Sometimes Courtney, parents just don't know."

It wasn't the answer her daughter was looking for, but the truth of what she said hung in the air.

I've thought about that statement many times as I've wavered with decisions. It's not the answer anyone wants to hear, but when it's true, it's best to admit it.

So for those days when like me you just don't know, maybe a tantrum isn't required. An honest answer to yourself and others in the form of I just don't know works fine.

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