One thing they don’t warn you about when you first become a parent: the most prevalent emotion you will feel from day one is self doubt, and it never goes away.
Now, the media doesn’t help things. On television, May sweeps are pretty much over, and I purposely did NOT watch the evening news, but I’ll guarantee you there were dozens of stories about everyday household items or activities that are “putting your family in danger!” And don’t get me started about womens magazines.
Throw in religion (will he rebel and become a heathen?) and politics (am I giving her the proper girl-empowering instruction?), and a parent will never be steady on his feet.
And parenthood is one of the few jobs where other people feel quite free to tell you what a crappy job you’re doing. From in-laws to complete strangers, from glares at Walmart to comments at church, EVERYBODY has an opinion on how you are raising your children. And at any given time, someone will hold the opinion that you are ruining your kids forever.
With all of this as a backdrop, I’m feeling a good amount of self-doubt right now. My kids are 425 miles away, staying with my parents for two weeks.
Now, this is something we planned for a long time. It’s the lemonade we’ve made out of the lemon facts that my kids rarely get to see their grandparents, and Lintilla used all of her time off for the year having surgery – meaning there would be no family vacation this year. Yet, when we did the parentally responsible thing and signed forms to give my parents consent to seek medical treatment for the kids (just in case), it really made it, well, real. For the next two weeks, the health and safety and well being of my kids is completely out of my hands.
Never mind that my parents successfully raised three boys, and have three other grown grandchildren they’ve had visit over the years. I know those facts in my mind, but they have not yet registered in my heart. I feel like the worst parent in the world.
I feel like the self-absorbed parents in On Golden Pond, who dumped off their son/stepson with the grandparents while they went to “find themselves”.
The facts on the ground are entirely different, but that’s how I feel.
Of course, when we called last night, Zaphod was all excited because my folks had let them have a water balloon fight in the backyard. Water balloons. Lintilla and I spend a fortune on electronic gizmos to keep our children entertained and engaged. My folks spend a dollar fifty and our kids have the time of their lives.
Today, they are fishing. And I’m sure that, unlike when I take them fishing, they’ll actually catch something. Later in the week, they’ll go to museums (LOTS of military museums in that area of Florida), and eventually hit the beach. They’ve also found a public pool, and I know Zaphod and Trillian will have a blast there.
When I think of it, my worry changes from one of them getting homesick to the probability that they WON’T get homesick. Will they be upset when we bring them home in a couple of weeks?
As far as Lintilla and I? We’re mostly cleaning (when we’re not working), but I have every intention of taking her on a bonafied grown up date this Friday or Saturday.
Anyway, I don’t know if age 10 and 11 is the right age to allow them to do this sort of thing. Lintilla and I have a tendency to just jump into things parentally, and hope that we are doing the right thing.
I’m pretty sure we are, but if not, I’m sure there are people who will feel free to let us know.