Children of My Own

by “I.M. Wyzer”

Sitting in the grocery cart ahead of me in line was an adorable, curly-haired boy. Smiling at me, he reached over to grab a candy bar while his mother unloaded the cart. She saw the candy bar in his hand and said, “Not today, honey.” The little cherub responded by transforming into a wailing, flailing demon. I smiled at his mother in sympathy but thought to myself, “No child of mine will ever act that way in public”—and then I had children of my own.

I listened as my neighbor told me of her horrifying night; first the call from the police, and then the agony she felt as she drove to the hospital not knowing if her son was still alive. She was stunned to learn that he had been drinking and dismayed that her don’t-drink-and-drive lectures had not been effective. I murmured my support but thought to myself, “I’ll always know what my kids are up to. No child of mine will ever drink and drive”—and then I had children of my own.

I read a story in the paper about a young man who had attempted suicide. His parents were devastated because they had no idea he was so depressed. At times he had expressed sadness, and they had reassured him that the feeling would pass. The suicide attempt was a complete shock, and the note he left mystified them. Why would he think the world would be better off without him? I felt so sorry for them but thought to myself, “Why didn’t those parents know what was going on, and why couldn’t that boy snap out of it? I’ll make sure no child of mine ever feels that way”—and then I had children of my own.

It’s too bad Irving Stone already used the title The Agony and the Ecstasy because it would be perfect for a book on the parenting experience. At the beginning of my journey, I was determined to be a perfect parent. I would make sure that my children would be well nourished, never neglected, well mannered, excellent students, supremely self-confidence, and always happy.

This plan worked well until they reached the age of eighteen months. It was then I discovered that these little beings were not made of clay. The children of mine that I thought would never act that way were acting that way. And instead of being the mother duck proudly leading my ducklings along the path, I sometimes found myself running frantically from side to side trying to keep them on the path. For the most part, we had great fun as they waddled towards adulthood. After I stepped off the path to let them try their wings, they intermittently fell and lost their way. I could no longer protect them from the bad things, control their choices, or make them be happy.

For parents, doing our best does not guarantee success. We wait, watch, hope, and pray that our best is good enough. My children are what they are. They give me joy and cause me pain. I think back to the times when I judged other parents and silently berated them for their failures. I apologize to all of those people—because I have children of my own.

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4 Responses to “Children of My Own”

  1. planejaner Says:

    great post–how easy it is to judge, and to stand on a tall precipice looking down on others as they journey through parenting…
    then, we are there, sharing the path, hoping to make eye contact with anyone who might relate.,,and share the joys and the sorrows.
    i did so much judging of other parents…then I became one…!
    jane

  2. Kristin Says:

    Great story. When I’m at work I always see kids misbehaving and making my job harder, and I think “Why are their parents letting them act that way?” But my kids might act the same way when they’re older, no matter how hard I try to prevent it. I think a lot of parents do the same thing.

  3. Classmate Says:

    I think it’s a great story! It’s a perfect aid especially for those parents who blame themselves for how their kids behave.

  4. classmate Says:

    This was really great and it goes along with life perfectly you like to judge a little bit until your in that position and then you think differently.

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