Joy photo

I’m convinced so much of parenting is just one big crap shoot.

We all do the best we can and hope, pray, grit our teeth and laugh our butts off…wishing, watching and waiting to see just how these little beings we call children are going to show up in the world.

I have two kids. Hank is 20 and Helen is 17. I personally think they are the must extraordinary creatures on earth. Strong willed, open minded, hyper focused and independent…they scare the bejeezy out of me more than you can imagine.

But what’s fascinating to observe is how they each dance and stumble their way through life…so remarkably un-alike.

There are two instances as babies that reflect their un-alike wiring like no other.

When Hank was almost two years old…I had stepped away from our living room briefly, to take a phone call in the other room. (Remember when phones were attached to the wall?)  I came back a few moments later and was both shocked (and humored) to discover Hank had drawn multiple circles around himself with bright red marker…on our pale grey carpet.

When I scolded him…his little lip quivered for several seconds, he lowered his head and cried quietly…wounded and whimpering.

Helen, on the other hand, about the same age…got a hold of some fingernail polish and did her version of a paint job on the wall in her room. When I scolded her…she looked me dead in the eye and threw her head back and laughed…stopped just long enough to see my reaction and then did it again!

As the mom to these two people…I have had to rely heavily on instinct and “gut” in my approach to parenting them. Cuz…the truth is…what worked for one doesn’t always work for the other. As a matter of fact what worked for one usually DIDN’T work for the other.

Until I had kids…I could be pretty harsh on parents who birthed the unruly ones; heck…I used to be harshly judgmental of my own parenting…measuring myself to some boxy standard that I’m coming to understand really does only exist in boxy books and boxy theories.

Because the truth for me is this…parenting is hard, it’s messy, it’s gooey, it’s red marker on the carpet and fingernail polish on the wall.  It’s laugh with joy one minute and not sleep for days with worry the next. It’s up and down and fear and love all squished into one crazy roller coaster ride.

I think it’s harder than just about any other role we as humans undertake. (And yet we keep undertaking it. How funny is that?)

And while I didn’t (and still don’t frankly) at times, have any clue whether what  I was doing was okay or not…I do know that I loved my kids with all my heart and will tell them that even when we argue, shout and stomp out of the room.

“I LOVE YOU DAMMIT” works pretty well as a show stopper…and I’ve been known to use it in the heat of those amazing, frustrating, what am I doing, we are all struggling with adolescent behavior here moments.

And this is about all I know and I’m okay with that.