Wednesday, February 25, 2009

On Parenting

For me, a lot of figuring out who I want to be has to do with really understanding what kind of parent I want to be.  It's not so much that, as I've heard some people say, my identity has been taken over by my status as 'mother,' but rather that succeeding at motherhood (to me, helping Lily grow into a happy and successful individual {however she defines success}) is the most important goal I have, at this time, in my life. So, I've been thinking a lot about what it takes to be happy and also the kind of mother I want to be. 

I've had many examples of mothers in my life and I really think that I have been lucky to learn a lot from all of them.  From my mother, I want to give Lily a sense of wonder and optimism about the world, encourage her creative mind, engender a sense that she is loved and loveable, give her memories of impromptu songs, stories, and general silliness, and teach her to dream big.  From my aunts, my cousins, my sister-in-law, and my friends, I want to give Lily things I've observed; patience, security and stability, reliability, responsibility, a sense of reality, a little bit of structure and routine (but not enough to encourage rigidity), playfulness, empathy, compassion,honor, duty, and perseverance. 

I don't believe that there is any 'right' way to be a good parent, though there are definitely some very wrong ones, and I guess in the end the most important thing (I've seen) is to provide a child with unconditional love, and protect them from abuse/harm.  I'd probably put stability pretty high on the list of things that it takes, but that may mostly be due to my own very unstable childhood.

In the end, I hope I will manifest all of the best things I've witnessed in other mothers and combine them with my own brand of mothering quirks.  As in all areas of life, I think that balance and moderation are key and that maintaining the right balances throughout her different stages of development will be the biggest challenge we will face.

And I will admit that I am pretty proud of how I've done so far.  I always feared I would be an inadequate parent, but Lily is, happilly, a happy and healthy 17-month old and I've been a large part of making that happen.  I am keeping in mind, though, that I'm coming to the end of the 'easy' part so I want to make sure I'm armed with a strong parenting plan for the years and learning we'll be adventuring through next.

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