Parenting is Not a Linear Equation

Parenting is not a linear equation. It just isn’t. There is no straight line from birth to fully functional and successful in every way.

Even if your child is born under the best of circumstances, to a fully functional healthy in mind body and spirit, stress well managed couple who is deeply in love, shares the same core values and wants kids for the best of intentions and are completely aligned in the most fundamental of ways, it is no guarantee that this child will turn out OK.

Even if you ate the perfect pregnancy diet, engaged in a regular variety of natural alternative therapies such as yoga, massage, reiki, chiropractic, etcetera, while reading classic literature each night to your unborn, you would not be guaranteed a problem free child.

Even if you breast fed exclusively for the first three years while maintaining a perfect post pregnancy diet with zero nutritional deficiencies, your child could still acquire health issues you cannot even fathom.

If you achieve all of the above but somehow decide to allow toxic injections to enter your child’s bloodstream via vaccines, your child may very well not get off scot free.

What defines OK?

Is it a certain level of education at a certain type of school or schools? Is it the “right” job, the ones society dictates are the highest echelon of success?

What if your child is homosexual and your dreams only include finding a heterosexual mate one day along with giving you a set number of perfectly formed and behaved grandchildren? Is your child no longer considered OK in your eyes?

Do you feel somehow cheated for putting in the time and not getting back what you feel you deserve. Do you question your ROI?

Parenting is not a linear equation. In fact, it’s not an equation at all but the ultimate crapshoot. Roll the dice and see what comes up. Yes, do all those right things and minimize the harmful ones to the best of your ability and knowledge. But, don’t ever fool yourself into thinking that there is some kind of guarantee because there isn’t and we all forget this sometimes.

I was recently listening to a popular podcaster whose work I sometimes follow go on about how he felt it important to spend quality time with his sixteen-year old son because soon that son would be off to college and then these moments in time would be gone forever.

I say, spend quality time with your kids because it is good for them and for you, not because you need to “get it all in” before the chance is gone forever.

What of these plans anyway?

  • What if the son decides not to go to college but instead travel the world for a year or get a job and gain some work experience or take an unpaid internship to learn outside a bricks and mortar educational setting.

  • What if this father dies before seeing his son graduate high school?

  • What if the son dies and the father has to bury his son long before his time?

We parents expect way too much and when those expectations aren’t met, we suffer. We think our kids should follow a certain paved path and oftentimes they don’t.

One of the problems with expectations is that when something different replaces them, we usually don’t recognize, at least not right away, that the “other” choice may be infinitely better. Better for them and perhaps even better for us.

We save for their college education, assuming that is their path and long before they even get a say. We tell them that this will serve them, give them a solid foundation to set forth in the world but the reality is that our kids are graduating already deeply in debt often with no job guarantee or sometimes even much of a prospect.

How is that ROI looking now?

Explain to me how being thousands even hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt can be defined as a solid foundation?

If they don’t find a job right away or linger too long in the comfort and safety of their part-time Starbucks job while maintaining residence in your rent free basement, it can take on the stench of failure real fast.

But what if some options never materialize and you don’t even get the opportunity to live in blissful ignorance, even for a little while?

You are either better off or worse off depending on how you view it. Both scenarios are right.

As a parent of a special needs child, I have mourned a thousand deaths. All those things I thought my child would achieve from big things to the little ones, I have had to face the inevitable truths about my child’s abilities and the most probable realities facing his adult years.

In most cases, I was dragged to these realizations kicking and screaming.

Telling myself that progress not perfection rules the day doesn’t change the fact that progress in and of itself may not be enough depending on what we are talking about. All the academic progress in the world doesn’t mean my kid will be able to navigate the pressures of colleges and manage it all successfully.

But many kids don’t and they have no diagnosis to speak of. Some of us will have our resilience sorely tested in this realm and others will have different challenges to bear.

So there it is. There are no guarantees when it comes to our kids and it is interesting how we can know this rationally yet continually forget this fact.

However, there is a steep price for forgetting and I no longer want to pay that price.

Published in That Odd Mom