Sunday, January 27, 2013

Confidence or Arrogance?

  I just threw out put in the donation bag most of my parenting books. I kept a handful, but gave away the majority. There's part of me that feels liberated, and part of me that feels...hmmm...over-confident? I don't know. I've begun to realize that all these books -- and the well-intentioned advice from the respective authors -- don't really add-up to much I can use for my family. Don't get me wrong - I have pulled bits & pieces from many of these books. I've dabbled in these parenting philosophies for months, years even, until I realized something...I'm using techniques 'on' them in hopes to manipulate their behavior. If kids do 'x' then I will do 'y' in hopes to encourage the 'z' outcome that somebody, in his/her silent, written voice, told me I'm supposed to want, through his/her book. Well...I don't want the expert's Z, I want MY Z. And my Z usually is cohesive/reflective with the Z of my kids...and each of them have his/her own Z depending on how his/her m.o.o.d. And in the end, I typically like my Z better than any in those books.

So...what advice do I follow? Who do I go to for direction, ideas, support, problem-solving, etc? Well, as my oldest daughter says (all the time,) 'Go call your people, Mommy.' I call my people. I take long walks with my people. I text my busy people. And email my far-away people. My 'village,' per-say, consists of many people, reachable through many modes. I go to these people, religiously, because these are the ones who know me. Know my family. Know my children. They know my history. They know how my brain works. These are the people that can help me through any major parenting crisis. These are my people. And none of them have written a parenting book. 

I'm done with worrying about the matrix of perfect PC parenting - parenting-book parenting. Because here's the deal...what happens when you follow the book to a T, and you still don't get outcome Z? Where does that leave the tired, over-stressed, overly self-critical mother? What happens when she follows all the advice of the experts, but in doing so fails to hear the voice of her children? I am the resident expert for this family, for MY family. My husband and I are the Chiefs of Staff here. Our promise and knowledge end as soon as we walk into your home...but here, we've got this. And when we don't 'have it' (which happens often) - we call our people.

As I'm trying to teach my children to explore, and to question, and to try, and to falter, all in the name of learning, I am realizing that these parenting books aren't helping me 'learn' much of anything. As I watch my daughter work really hard to overcome her own feelings of control - just writing or singing or dancing for the sake of it, not for the perfection of it - I slowly see the greater lesson. And it's not a lesson for her, it's my own. The learning comes from the loving. And these kids are the teachers. And there ain't nothing perfect about parenting. Therein lies the joy. Letting go.

It felt great to dust off my bookshelf. Make room for the books I did keep. Put a framed picture in the newly liberated space. And say to myself - 'I'm not saying I have the answers, I'm just confident that these books don't.' 

In case you were curious about the books that DID make the cut...a few books on Intuitive Parenting,  a handful of books on creating 'community, ' and miscellany (books on sacred circles, death & dying, rituals, joyful living,  gratitude etc.) Again, the miscellany will be no surprise for my people. That's what makes them my people :) However...I do have one Dr. book on those shelves. This parent will never be without Dr. Seuss.


  1. Found you via Deb @home life simplified. Good on you. I'm an adoptive Mum of two kids and I have a collection of books about parenting adopted kids. I have them up on the shelf but I really don't refer to them - after so much angst about the whole adoption process, self-judgement and being made to feel a second-class parent, I'm trying to trust my own instincts and mistakes - I blog as yinyangmother and that's me, trying for some sort of balance along a bumpy road that is far from perfect.