There’s a new little man in my house this week. I’m not talking about a new garden gnome, nor have I been visited by faeries. I’m talking about baby Joseph, who along with his mom has come to visit for a few days.
Like many babies, he’s a delightful little creature, full of energy but with a very sweet personality. Watching him interact with his mom and with us reminds me to some extent of my own children’s babyhoods, and yet in many ways it feels very different. Having not had a baby around in many years, my skills are rusty and the rules have changed. No peanut butter or honey, for one thing.
But it also calls to mind broader things, like the nature of parenting and the complex relationship between parents and children. Not to sound squishy or sentimental, parenting is an odd thing if you think about it. We bring these little helpless creatures into the world and then spend the next couple of decades teaching them not to need us.
I went to dinner with friends the other night and as it usually does, the conversation ranged freely to a variety of topics. But we bookended the conversation with discussions about parenting – first, talking about the challenges of raising teens and ending the night with some of the challenges we’ve had with our own parents. It struck me afterwards that of all the topics we discussed that night, these two were the most heart-felt and in some ways also the most painful. It seems that both being a parent and being a child are complicated things, but it’s also part of being human.
I’m not sure I have any great wisdom on this. Parenting is harder than it looks and it’s easy to judge both parent and child. For me, I’m going to enjoy the little ones when I can and make sure that my kids know how much I love them. In the final assessment, I think that loving each other is really all we can do anyway.