Going through my cellphone recently, I came across a video my three year old had made. The video is mostly of his hand, but the very clear audio is him asking over and over, “Where are the PARENTS? Where ARE the parents?!”
I remember the first day he asked me that question. He had been caught standing atop a 60 pound lion statue, playing pinball. This was after he had pushed the statue across the room to the pinball machine . . . Which he had also managed to turn on and somehow knew how to operate. Upon finding him I sputtered something like, “How did you do this? What is going on?!” I mean, seriously – how long had it taken him to move the statue across the room and commence his personal pinball party? How had nobody noticed? He immediately looked at me with a wry smile and asked, “Yeah, Mom! What IS going on?! Where ARE the parents?!”
After admonishing him to ALWAYS find an adult before moving furniture (or statues), my husband and I sheepishly laughed at his inquiry as to where in the world the parents had been while he was mid-shenanigans.
The truth is, he has learned this incredulous question from us. It’s a joke my husband and I sometimes make when we’re in the midst of a crisis and find ourselves looking around for a responsible adult to “parent” the situation.
So now, I have to be honest about the “joke” . . . There are times when I really do wonder where the parents are, because there’s no way I’m qualified to do this.
I mean, I have parents . . . they’re wise, they’re calm, they seem to have all the answers, they are responsible adults. They helped me get through childhood, the frightening teenage girl years, college, love lost and found, marriage, pregnancy, childbirth . . . everything. And it’s no secret, I wish they lived with us. Unfortunately, they can’t be here 24/7, and they aren’t my children’s parents. They’re the grandparents who get to hang with my children and then hand them back to us when it’s time for a parent.
There are days, hours, minutes, moments that I realize I have absolutely ZERO idea what I’m doing as a parent. I realize that these two tiny humans I love so much are looking to me to be in control, to be the adult, to parent. Sometimes I just feel so overwhelmed by the weight of the responsibility – too worried about what the RIGHT thing to do is to make a decision. I find myself wishing for a parent to help me . . . parent.
This feeling probably first crept over me when I was pregnant with my son. At some point in the second trimester, I realized that the tiny human growing inside of me was mine. Mine to keep, to love, to care for, to protect, to inspire, to discipline, to teach, and set free. That was terrifying. Since then, no matter how many times I’ve looked around for someone more “parental” to step in and handle the scary situations, no one has shown up to take over. My kids and I are left with just the parents they were given, my husband and myself.
Thankfully, (for ourselves and our children) we aren’t completely alone. We have friends and family who support and love us. Also, regardless of how inadequate we feel, how busy we get, how many times we don’t do the exact right thing . . . our children don’t know any different. We’re the only parents they have, so they aren’t grading us on any kind of impossible scale. When we’re just doing so-so, our little ones don’t have anything to compare it to, and they love us anyway.