I know there are a lot of theories about parenting, and I actually like some of them, and wholeheartedly agree with others. But there is a difference between theory and practice. My actual practice of parenting, with almost 15 years of experience so far, can best be described as “hold on for your life – fly by the seat of your pants – whatever gets you through the day.”
Practice is what happens when theory gets slapped in the face by reality.
Practice is what happens when you have three children who are completely different, when what worked for one, will NOT (despite your best efforts) work for another. Practice is what happens when you are too utterly exhausted from postpartum sleep deprivation and hormonal shifts and newly breastfeeding nipples to follow through on a “consequence” for your toddler. Practice is what happens when you turn to the television as a babysitter so you can get some sleep. Practice is what happens when you can’t let the baby cry because your older two need to sleep for school, and you can’t let the older two be too loud in the morning because the baby needs to sleep. Practice is what happens when autism (or another “special” need) crashes into your world and you have to learn a whole new dictionary of terms and theories and educational philosophies and laws, while having to keep up with your “typical” kids. Practice is what happens when you’re depressed and you know your kids deserve more of you, but you’re doing your best to give them what you can. Practice is what happens when you say, “Of course I’ll talk to my kids about sex,” but when your young teenager asks, “Mom, what’s oral sex?” you find yourself stuttering and wanting to hide.
Practice is what happens when we realize we’re not perfect, that our kids are not perfect, and that there is no ONE way to do this parenting thing. There CAN’T be, because each parent is different and each child is different. And in the case of parenting, at least for me, practice will never mean perfect – but I keep “holding on for my life – flying by the seat of my pants – whatever gets me through the day,” hoping and praying that even through the mistakes and missteps my kids will know I’m trying my best to guide them into a “centered” adulthood, and that no matter what, I love them.