As usual, Motherlode offers food for thought this morning, and in particular, the issue of scaring and scarring other parents with stories of pregnancy, birth, and the early years of raising a child. In other words, we are bombarded with information on everything that can go wrong.
With my own recent scare – my son’s boating accident – I am reminded that parenting can be a harrowing ride no matter what. It’s an emotional roller coaster of love and worry that grabs you by the heart and never seems to let go. And speaking of letting go – that’s the goal of child-rearing – to raise our little ones to independence. Getting them, and us, ready for letting go.
In response to the reader who wrote to Motherlode about the fact that so many parenting articles are alarming in their tone and content, Lisa Belkin explains:
… as with every other part of life, the struggles are what preoccupy us. We need help with those; we look for support.
And I find that to be the crux of what we do here – and everywhere that we write and read and discuss on the web. It is the struggles that preoccupy us, and the support that we share which sustains us. It’s helpful, don’t you think? Not only because there is wisdom to be gained in discussion, but often we have nowhere else to go with those struggles – to dissect them, to reframe them, to give them an airing and in so doing, feel relieved; to propose solutions from our experience and gratefully accept suggestions from others.
At times, we trot out our fears so they grow smaller.
Taking the issue a step farther, I ask myself if we dramatize on occasion – for attention or for readership.
I think about the incident with my son. I could have kept silent. I could keep silent now. But the fact is, though he is healing perfectly well, I’ve been struggling with sleeplessness and a sense of vulnerability that I haven’t felt in some time. The fist in the pit of my stomach remains clenched.
Do I leave the topic alone and go on to other things? Do I share it so I may release a bit of angst, and by writing out the lingering fear, remind myself how fortunate I am?
I know the sleeplessness will subside, there are other tasks on our familial plate that are pressing, and I realize the convergence of stresses may be taking effect. There is nothing dramatic in any of this; it is life, as it is.
Sharing the Parenting Struggles
And the everyday parenting struggles?
Like the mother who wrote to Lisa Belkin, I was older when I conceived, and as such was lectured on all the risks, offered all the tests, and I declined most of them. The doctors scared me, but I set those fears aside and plunged ahead. I knew I wanted children; I was strong enough to deal with whatever I was given.
At the time, I was married, and assumed my children – “our” children – would be raised by two adults along with frequent visits to a large European extended family. In fact, I thought we might live overseas for a number of years, which was something I was looking forward to.
It didn’t quite turn out as planned, but two healthy children I have, and every struggle – most not dramatic – has been worth it.
Yet in our country of so much talk, of legitimate fears and possibly too many venues for sharing them, don’t we still remember to speak of our victories and recount our good news, balancing out the “scaring and scarring?”
Women, Reading and Writing
As a woman, I believe our many online communities for writing and discussing are essential. We are more at ease in our communications than men; we are often too busy to seek friends or maintain relationships that can advise and support us through tough times.
As a woman who wishes to better understand men, I am always delighted when they join the conversation. It is my impression that men share with each other less and differently; we all benefit from an exchange of ideas and perspectives, fears and possible solutions.
- Do you offer and accept parenting advice online?
- Do you believe that we focus too much on the struggles?
- Do you believe we are living an age of Too Much (scary) Information, and not just online?