Monday, April 02, 2007

It's what you do when it rains

Like I've said before, few things feed my self-doubt like parenting. In most other things I'm involved in, I'm reasonably sure of myself and believe that I can do the job just as well as anyone else. Parenting though - oy veh. I doubt almost every decision I have to make, and as every parent knows, there are LOTS of decisions. Is it okay to give them snacks before supper once in awhile? Should I get them involved in as many activities as their friends are involved in? Are they doing enough chores around the house? If I say they can't play soccer during the winter because we can't afford the exhorbitant rates of indoor leagues, will it damage their chances of progressing next year? Should I let them quit piano or should I push them a little harder? If they have a fight with one of their friends, what's the best way to respond? Oh the pressure!

Every once in awhile, though, the light shines through, and I know I've given them some small intangible gift that makes up for some of the poor decisions I might have made.

Last week, Craig Kielburger was talking about an experience he'd had somewhere in Africa. He'd been visiting a village where they'd helped dig a well, and when the rain started to pour down, the visitors had all run for cover while the local people had run out into the downpour. One of the villagers had come to him and dragged him outside saying "It's raining! We have to dance! Rain is good! We need rain for our crops to grow!"

While he spoke, I smiled - remembering that just the week before, Maddie had tried to drag me outside. "Mom! It's raining! Let's go outside!" I was busy at the time and didn't really want to get wet, so I stayed inside, but she went and played in the front yard and came inside soaked to the bone and grinning.

Suddenly, as I listened to Craig's story, the memory of that moment made my eyes fill with tears. Of COURSE she wanted me to go outside - she still believes that that's what you do when it rains! Last year, when it finally rained after a dry spell, the girls and I all ran outside to dance with the raindrops. (You can find pictures here - check out Maddie's face!) We followed our dance with a walk around the block where splashing through puddles was mandatory.

The moment of realization was a tiny affirmation that I'm doing alright as a mom. I might mess up now and then, but at least I'm raising a child who believes that when it rains, you really should dance.


Gina said...

Heather, I totally remembered that post as soon as you said Maddie wanted to go outside.

I think you strike an excellent balance at discipline, guidance, and lightheartedness, which is just as important.

Anvilcloud said...

Love your kids, and do your best. What else can you do, eh?

Anonymous said...

I'm going to remember this post - I am struggling with my parenting decisions this week.

hellojed said...

Ah, to be a child again. Your post brought me back...

Pamela said...

my kids are all adults... and I still feel I'm making mistakes.

They are always our kids.
I think they play in the rain with their kids..too. So thats a good sign. Thanks for reminding me of walks in the rain, and splashing in puddles

karla said...

Your posts always leave me feeling like I am wrapped in a warm blanket.

I too remember the day you and your kids danced in the rain.

Whippersnapper said...

Your kids are the most non-neurotic, easy-going, unselfconscious children I have ever met. I'd say you're doing a great job.

Judy said...

Mistakes are okay.

It gives us a chance to model forgiveness.

The fact that my children have forgiven me - well, it teaches me that they understand grace.

I think the best parents are the ones who question what they are doing. For the ones who think they know it all, they never question.

I feel sorry for their children.

Joyce said...

I don't know what to say... I just so relate to the mixed up reality of being good parent/evil parent, and usually all on the same day. Often in the same minute...

I guess we hope the good rises to the top like good rich farm cream.