Mumabulous is one of those annoying people who rarely watches TV and only listens to ABC 702 radio. I haven’t quite made it to Radio National but no doubt my dial will get there eventually. A weeks ago I caught the gist of a conversation between Gretel Killeen (who was filling in for another of my embarassing crushes James Valentine) and journalist Angela Mollard. Those two are Mumrades from way back and they were nattering about parenting styles nowadays. I was multitasking at the time, trying to concerntrate on the road whilst drowning out the whinging coming from the back seat but I distinctly remember Angela saying something along the lines of – Today many women come to motherhood from the corporate world and their approach to parenting is similar to their careers. Its like they are measuring their mothering skills against some mystical kpi index.*
Huh? If that’s the case then Mumabulous is in for one very sorry performance review. My parental kpi consists of the following very basic objectives – 1) feed, 2) dress, 3) entertain, 4) bathe 5) bed and 6) get to daycare at a reasonable time. With Dadabulous’ help I just barely meet this agenda. However for goals beyond these I am a non-starter. My girls have too much screen time, too much junk food and I’m never accross the housework. To top things off , the only thing consistent about my discipline is its laxity. In short I am muddling through everyday, doing what is easiest at the time.
Parenting methods were in the spotlight again this week (is this topic ever out of the spotlight?) thanks to 60 Minutes’ expose on Attachment Parenting. Riding on the coat-tails of the infamous “Are you Mom enough?” article in Time Magazine, 60 Minutes dragged out the old chestnuts of co-sleeping, extended breast feeding and basically making the child the center of the known universe. Of course they hunted down some extremist nut jobs to interview, people who ask their children for permission to change their nappies and believe that controlled crying causes brain damage. I can almost hear a nationwide chorus of “bullshit!” in response to that spurious claim.
Although I can disregard this outing as another media attempt to gain ratings by stirring the tired old pot known as the “mommy wars”, it got me thinking about my own parenting philosophy. Do I even have one? I’m adverse to extremism of any kind and lean towards doing what is practical in the moment. Its hardly a philosophy but I think its the path most people are following. Then I remembered some timeless words that capture exactly how I feel about raising my girls. It seems irritatingly hippie/new agey to wheel out Kahlil Gibran. Its the kind of thing my parents were into. Nevertheless when I came accross this piece it really struck a chord with me and I remind myself of it in moments of doubt.
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
Which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and
He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies, so
He loves also the bow that is stable.
Hold the bow stable? I think Dadabulous and I can do that.
Happy archery people.
* kpi = key performance indicators