Monday, July 5, 2010


When Lucy was nearly two, I went for a walk with a mom I know from our church. She has two older kids, and parents thoughtfully and is stylish in a casual, hip way. We pushed Lucy around the block in her stroller, and she mentored me for a good half-hour.
Then we got back to my gate, and as I pushed it open, she said, "Be forewarned: it only gets harder."

At this point, much as I liked her, I wanted to shoot her. And pray that she was wrong. Since I barely squeaked through year one, and year two was proving to be a respite, I did not want to go back to feeling utterly incompetent all the time.

And here we are, approaching year four, and I have an inkling of what she means.

See, year one was all physical exhaustion and confusion. Not fun, but also simple, in its own way. Sleeping or not: this was a problem that was starkly black or white. It had no immediate solution, but I could decide on what solution (or no solution) I wanted to try, throw it at the wall, and see if it stuck.

The solution, however, was up to me. Which sucked in its own way, but was as I said, simple.

Two days ago, driving in the car, Lucy asked, "Momma, when do I start kindergerten?"

And the answer is, well, you won't. Because we will be homeschooling.

Except. When I planned on homeschooling, I decided I would listen to Lucy's voice, and give her a say in the decision. Maybe not immediately (I think kindergarten will be at home), but at some point. And her question threw me into a turmoil.

Because really, I want her to want to stay home with me. And knowing my child, she won't, at least at first. I'm fairly certain that once I give her the choice: home? or school? she will choose school. She may like it, or not, but the point is, she probably won't want what I want. And won't be on my roadmap, but her own.

And folks, we have not even reached puberty yet.

I see so many friends of mine struggling with this issue. The friend who wants to work more, but also wants to find a safe solution for her child with health issues. The friend who tried preschool for a year, and was planning on working, but then realized her child really wanted to be at home. The father who scratched his head at his teenager's not turning in homework she had completed--and getting poor grades as a result.

Parenting is this huge illusion of control, and a huge weight of responsibility, but ultimately, the goal is to take our hands off of the reins and let our babies figure things out by themselves. Perhaps not today, but at some point.

This irks me. But I have to ask: do I want a daughter? Or a puppet?


postmommy said...

I know exactly how you're feeling. The school bus stop is literally right outside my front door, so both my boys have been in love with the bus, and subsequently the concept of school, for quite a while. My 3 1/2 year old often asks when it will be time for him to get on the bus and go to school. As you read on my blog, I'm fairly certain he'll be on board in a few more years, but it's not set in stone yet. And I don't want to make promises I can't keep! :)

Sarah said...

Oh this is good stuff. Good, good stuff. The illusion of control. Yes. It's not control that we have, it's guidance that we give. And I think that's why it's so damn hard. Guidance is often harder. We have to let these other little people have a voice, make a choice, and yet push them into what we think is "right." It does get harder--every stage--and I'm constantly amazed at all the growing I am doing right along with my little dudes. It just never stops. It leaves me exhausted and yet astounded--our capacity for growth and change is infinite.

Heather said...

Thanks, guys. Oh, the illusion of control. That plus the responsibility is a nasty combination. All of the weight, with none of the maneuverability.
Can you tell I have been playing too much Mario Cart?