One parent's new year resolutions
Published: Thursday, January 3, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 1, 2008 at 12:00 a.m.
The other day, my son asked me how many days old he was. (Seven is an interesting age - there's a lot of mental math involved.)
It's been a long time since we counted his age in months, let alone days, so it took me a while to figure out he was nearly 3,000 days old. The number left me stunned. At first, it seemed so small: How can it be that 2,700 days ago, we didn't even know him? We had imagined him, to be sure, and had seen some grainy images - the outline of a foot, a profile. (Sonograms have come a long way since then.) But we had never met.
Upon further consideration, though, 2,700 days seemed enormous - so many opportunities already gone. Almost 3,000 bedtimes, 3,000 good morning hugs, hundreds of school mornings rushing from breakfast table to car, then back again for the backpack.
The true meaning of that number hit me some time later: Each day that goes by brings his childhood closer to an end. That's no tragedy - each year uncovers more of the person he will eventually be, and I like that person. But we also wave goodbye, forever, to the little person who was, the one to whom 'cell phone' rhymed with 'telephone' and who steadfastly ended the word 'brown' with a 'd'.
Parenting is a job unlike any other: There are no mid-year reviews, no feedback, and - outside of family court, anyway - no evaluations. Three thousand days in, I wonder, am I doing a good job at this? Our task as parents is stuffed to bursting with unexpected rewards, but it carries with it the knowledge success, ultimately, is to render ourselves unecessary. Some days it is not much fun. On those days, when parenting seems like an 18-year marathon, you endure by keeping your head down and focusing on the short-term goals. Then there are the good days, where we ignore the laundry and make potions out of kitchen spices and baking soda. And a lot of days somewhere in between.
The new year is as good a time as any to reflect the ups and downs of this adventure we're all on, the moms and dads and grandmas and foster parents living in the messy, joyful trenches of parenthood. I hope I'm giving it my best, but I know I can do better, so, in trying to make the most of the time I have left, I'm making some parenting resolutions for the new year.
I will save my sarcasm for adults.
I will let him venture (a little) farther from my watchful eye.
I will try harder to get into the imaginative spirit of Speed Racer, or ninjas, or Harry Potter, or whatever we're pretending that day.
I will let him help with the cooking more, even though it takes twice as long.
I will try not to lose my temper over homework.
I will try to do more than just get through our days, going to and from activities, rushing food to the table. I'll try to find a moment in each of these hectic days to savor, because I know they are numbered.
What are your parenting resolutions? Share them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
E-mail Alisson Clark at email@example.com.
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