To Guide or to Raise, that is the Question
I used to think that my husband and I would ‘raise’ our children. As if they had tender shoots and fragile roots and would produce a crop one day. We took a parenting class. I read books and prayed a lot. I learned to mean what I said, and not make threats I didn’t want to carry out.
Parenting did not come easy for me. Raising kids required much more than weeding and watering a tomato plant.
They say you should have your end goal in mind before you start something. I don’t excel at this concept. I had a vague idea that we would have children and they’d ‘turn out all right,’ but I never thought of all those hard steps in between.
Parenting should not be undertaken by the faint of heart or the faint of faith. It involves blood, vomit, blow-outs, endless questions, boredom, innocent wisdom, belly laughter, lasting memories, family legends, and friendship.
Along the way, I learned that one does not really ‘raise’ children. One becomes a guide. To raise implies that one will define the course and the outcome. People raise cows, pigs, chickens, and crops. The calf turns into a cow, the piglet into a pig, the chick into a chick and the seeds into a crop.People raise cows, chickens, and crops--not kids. Click To Tweet
Kids, on the other hand, turn into adults—able to think, act, react, choose, and disappoint all on their own. The myriad variables that go into their lives could each cause a different outcome based on genetic makeup, generational trauma, or a host of other factors.
The only surety is that they will grow up.
I Gave Up on Believing I Could Raise My Kids
I stopped raising my kids a long time ago. Life got in the way of my grand plans to have perfectly behaved children that everyone loved (ok, I think they behaved perfectly and everyone DID love them).
Instead, we tried to guide them. I had to realize that their choices belonged to them (along with the consequences of their choices). I learned to let them make mistakes and fail in epic ways (not easy for this natural helicopter). Shoplifting? Yep. My girls did that. Cheating on tests? That, too. Disrespecting adults? Absolutely.
The older I get, the more I realize our girls had a bunch of blind guides. What we thought we knew in our twenties didn’t amount to much. The wisdom of our thirties and forties has morphed into the reality of our fifties. We made mistakes.
But the journey has taught me two things. One, parenting is the hardest job you’ll ever take on, so don’t forget to pray without ceasing. Two, the rewards of all that hard work outweigh any of the stress (and distress) I may have experienced in the past.
I can’t think of anyone I would rather hang out with than our daughters. They know me and they still love me. We share a wacky sense of humor and can talk for hours. We can also read for hours in the same room (nerd nights—an Ojeda family tradition).
So, while I failed to raise our girls, I count myself lucky because I got to act as their guide until we became friends.