Seeing Flowers

Parenting is overwhelming.

Not necessarily on a daily basis. On a daily basis you are required to keep the children safe and feed them. That’s not bad.  I mean they keep requesting to be fed three times a day this summer, but if they are all still alive at the end of the day you’re winning. It’s when you start to think about the tiny humans you are raising and what they might become that the weight of the parenting responsibility comes crashing down like a summer’s worth freeze pops and pool floaties.

Are you raising them to be kind but also to stand up for themselves? Will they be generous but not taken advantage of? Are they polite? Do they wash their hands when they are supposed to? Do they know how to fold a paper bag and collapse a cardboard box? Can they cook a meal? Have you taught them not to talk to strangers but also to be friendly? Can they swim? Can they ride a bike? Do they have decent morals? Have they learned not to lie but also to tell white lies when opening gifts in front of people? Do they eat the food they’re given? Did you remember to teach them how to behave with strange dogs? What do they do with a bully? Are they the bully? …

Parenting is overwhelming.

Today I took my kids to the beach (either I was trying to teach them that if you hurry up and do chores then you can play or I was just tired of being hot and sweaty myself, I forget which). While we cooled off in the lake we noticed catalpa flowers floating by, the girls started to swim them down collecting as many as they could.  As we gathered a small pile on our floatie and tried to tuck them into swimming suits and behind ears as decorations, we heard a group of girls squealing about the toilet paper that was floating by them again.  Aghast I looked up to avoid this floating health hazard only to realize that they had misidentified the beautiful catalpa flowers as toilet paper and were swimming in the other direction. I was still aghast, but for a different reason.

A dramatic re-enactment of the situation staged in our rain barrel.

Parenting is overwhelming.

Are you raising them to be curious enough to look, really look, at the world around them? Are you remembering to teach them to use their brains? (One of mine is in middle school, she forgot how to use her’s but I’m hoping it comes back to her in a few years). Do they run from something different or lean towards it? Can they tell the difference between a nasty piece of trash and flower dropped by a tree?

I left the beach thinking that maybe the only parenting goal should just be to teach children to recognize a flower when they are faced with one.  Even if it’s out of place, even if it’s different, even if they have to stretch their brains to figure out how it came to be there, even if it’s something they’ve never been faced with before.

And if they can do that maybe they can do anything.

Except fold a paper grocery bag.

That one is apparently much trickier than I thought.

Parenting is overwhelming.

But I fed mine more than once today and they got to bed alive, if hours past bedtime, so I’m totally winning and I bet you are too.



7 comments on “Seeing Flowers

  1. Imelda says:

    I hear you.

    Your post resonates with this mother.

  2. petespringerauthor says:

    What parent can’t identify with this, Jessie? We make a million decisions as parents, and hopefully, we get the majority of those right. (though I’ve also learned to cut myself some slack when I’ve erred.) Our twenty-six-year-old son lives halfway across the country, and we’re finally going to see him this week after six months. The fact that he is happy and a good human being makes up for all of the times we miss him. One of the strange things about this parenting business is you raise your kids to be independent and self-sufficient, but when they no longer need your help, it’s a weird feeling. About the only thing, he’s asked for help with during the past couple of years was to proofread his papers for his master’s program. Now that he has his degree, will he ever need anything again? I like to remind my wife that I’d be way more worried about him if he WANTED to live with us at his age. Ha-ha!

  3. Children do not remember much of what they hear you say, but they remember everything they see you do. You’re a great “doing” parent, Jessie. They will be good people and have good lives.

  4. Widdershins says:

    Congratulations, you made it through another gold-star day. 😀

  5. Missing your posts. Everything okay?

  6. andreasop says:

    Magnificent on many levels! So eloquently stated, anything I write in reply sounds elementary. You are a wonderful parent and your children are lucky to have you. I’m grateful to feel less alone regarding the worrying about raising kids well on so many different levels.

  7. Love it, helping them learn to recognize unexpected flowers. Priceless. HAvent found time to read for awhile, so I’m sorry to hear about your accident and hope you feel much better and never experience Cow Cirque du Soleil again!

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