I thought I went into being a mom with my eyes wide open, but today’s parenting reality can be an upside down world.
We can’t be afraid of everything or our kids will do nothing, so we wing a prayer and send them out into the world. Not before we cover a few bases, though. Don’t be afraid of strangers, but here’s what to do if they try to take you. Don’t be afraid of adults you know, but here’s what to do if they touch you. Don’t be afraid to try new things, but don’t expect to be perfect at all of them. Don’t be afraid, don’t be afraid, don’t be afraid, but…
We send them to school with a fervent prayer that our kids won’t get caught in the middle. Of a domestic dispute or a disgruntled employee taking revenge or a bully run amok shootout.
We worry about peer pressure, just like our own parents worried about us: the pressure to drink, to smoke, to have sex too young. Only now we’re also worried about sexting and doing drugs. Oral sex in middle school. Online bullying and eating disorders and a slew of other adult issues that show up far too early in their lives.
We think harder about sleepovers – do I trust the people in that house? Will my kid know what to do if things aren’t kosher? We decide to say yes and pray they’re safe, but then we have to explain to why they can’t spend the night again in a house where the adults yell at each other.
We send them outside to play. After all, they need exercise and fresh air and that’s why we bought a house in a safe neighborhood in the first place. Except there are no safe neighborhoods anymore, but we don’t want to teach our kids fear. So we send them out anyway and hope nothing worse than a skinned knee happens.
We want to see the world so we travel, but now we need to explain the police with automatic weapons in the airports and on the streets. There’s a bombing the week before we leave so we have to explain the increased security they’ll pass through just to board an airplane. All the while we’re telling them the extra security will keep them safe, but the brutal truth is that nothing keeps you safe from a crazy person in a suicide vest so all we can do is go on faith.
Control is an illusion.
There is no control over what our kids will encounter; all we have now is the hope that we’ve prepared them to live their lives.
It all pretty much boils down to the fact that parenting in the tilt-a-wheel takes an enormous leap of faith.