Most of you are eager to share the positive and apparent successes of parenting. Fewer of you, however, may be willing to admit to inner doubts of how you measure up in this difficult task of raising children.
In reporting on their child’s school involvements, friendships, sports successes, dance and music lessons, grades and other achievements, parents easily show a sense of pride in what their children are accomplishing and how creatively busy they are. For many parents, this is an outward sign that they are providing every opportunity for their child; proof enough that they are a “good” parent.
However, in the quieter moments, every parent must admit to times of living in a doubtful place: Did I say the right thing, am I spending enough time with my child, did I choose the right disciplinary consequence, did I give them too much or too little (attention, food, punishment, gifts, sleep, money, etc.), why isn’t he motivated in school, why doesn’t she have more friends, why do they talk back to me, why are siblings always at each others’ throats? And so it goes, on and on, for a lot of years. The world of parenting uncertainties is unending.
In her first two excellent parenting memoirs, author Katrina Kenison describes her experience of parenting at both ends of the spectrum, one end filled with joy and delight, and the other end, harboring uncertainty and despair. She does not bring us parenting techniques in her books, or right and wrong answers. She simply shares, with raw honesty and revealing truths, how it has been for her.
In her first book, “Mitten Strings for God,” Kenison speaks of the innocent and unfolding world of early childhood, the delightful times of shared discoveries in nature, of snuggling together to read favorite books and special bedtime rituals.
She is intentional about creating space to build relationships with her two young sons. “And just as our children depend on us for three meals a day, they also need us to prepare peaceful spaces for them in the midst of this busy world.”
In “The Gift of An Ordinary Day,” a second memoir, Kenison continues to share from the bared soul of a mom who has now advanced to parenting two adolescent sons. It is not easy to start the gradual, yet necessary, process of letting children go, and the author does not hold back in her descriptions of parental confusion and moments of despair.
She is honest about missing those two little boys with whom she once shared “guppy kisses.” She is equally honest about the amazement she feels for the teens who have come to replace them, and who are emerging as capable young men before her very eyes. “There is no doubt that both my sons are on their way. The only question now is, how gracefully will I be able to step aside and allow them to become the adults they are meant to be.”
The journey of parenting is a lengthy and challenging one, made easier if shared by fellow travelers along the way. It is not only good to celebrate the growth and achievements of our children, but also necessary to honestly grapple together with those struggles all parents experience.
Kenison spoke recently at a local author’s forum, sharing with parents her stories of being richly blessed by her own children, both in the peaceful moments and in the confusing ones as well. She encouraged parents to be open about both the difficult as well as the delightful aspects of the parenting journey.
Kenison was honest about her own struggles concerning one son who has dealt with addiction, and their painful journey to overcome and move forward. It is this kind of vulnerability that reminds us that parenting is a perilous journey at best, one that does not always have our imagined outcome in the end.
Let’s be honest about parenting. In this world of parenting uncertainties, we need each other for encouragement. In the quiet moments of nagging doubt, we need honest souls like Kenison to reassure us that our children are on their own path. Eventually, we will need to let them go and trust.
Try reading Katrina Kenison’s books:
“Mitten Strings for God,” “The Gift of An Ordinary Day,” “Magical Journey,” and the latest, “Moments of Seeing.”