There’s no secret police, only in-laws.

“In this age, y’all are going to have a really hard time protecting your parental rights from the federal government,” my mother-in-law said.

“Why? Are you reporting us to Trump’s secret police?” is what I did not say.

Apparently, in spite of our whole Republican government, the beady-eyed liberals will be coming for our baby like a flock of flying monkeys. I don’t know.

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Hey guys!! There’s burgers on the grill out back!!

Family is weird, that’s what I do know. I’ve never met one that wasn’t. And now my husband and I are having our own baby to make mildly uncomfortable for the rest of our lives.

Yeah, we do that same thing that all not-yet-parents do – we talk at length about our own upbringings and how we’re going to do it so much better than our parents did. We do that same thing that I guess most people do all their lives – we believe that there’s such a thing as “better”, when sometimes there’s really only “different”.

Sure, there are bad parents, and hopefully their children grow up and they do do better. But my husband and I had good parents – have good parents – and we’re going to do parenting differently, but it won’t be better.

Our parenting will be tailored to the 21st century we now live in – that alone will make it different. But the end result will be that our children grow up to sit around talking about how they’ll do parenting so much better than we did.

I really hope I’ll be okay with that.

When I studied abroad at Oxford, my flatmate was a brilliant psychology student named Melanie. She was doing a course in child development and one of the books that sat on her desk all semester was called, They F*** You Up.

Of all the literature I studied that semester, nothing stands out in my mind like the memory of sitting on Melanie’s bed, listening to her describe her professor and her course, holding that book.

Loving, intelligent, informed, thoughtful, mindful parents damage their children. Not in the same way that unloving, uncaring, thoughtless or cruel parents do, but still.

So, we sit and judge our parents, and we sit feeling judged by our parents, but ultimately the highest judge will be our child. And I doubt we’ll get better than a C+. I doubt any parents ever do.

My plan is to read the best books and learn the best new practices and do the best I can, and then to have faith that the love will be enough. It was enough for me with my parents and it was enough for my husband with his parents, and it still is. We take the beauty with the boogers with the awkward dinner conversations, and the love is always enough.

May our love be enough for you, Little Skullface. May you one day grow up and forgive us.

2 thoughts on “There’s no secret police, only in-laws.

  1. I love this! I know that when you’re pregnant – especially the first time – you really can think you’re going to be way better at parenting than is actually possible. How many times have you watched some poor, over worked, under-rested try to keep her child off the blood pressure machine at the grocery store and thought “I’ll never let my kids do that!”? (p.s. Never say “I’ll never let my kids do that.” It’s a sure way to curse yourself).

    I think appreciating that “good” parents still mess up is a really important part of having grace for yourself…and your kids….and your parents. It’s just hard to get everything right all the time. It doesn’t mean you don’t try, but you can have a little more mental/emotional breathing room.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. A friend told me just today that by caring about your kid, you’re already a good parent. Caring about your parenting makes you a good parent. My friend said he gets worried when parents DON’T worry or care or ask questions. It was insightful for me because all I can seem to do is sweat the small stuff.

    Liked by 1 person

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