14 Sep To the Parent Without the Right Answers
Tears streamed down my child’s face, the frustration apparent.
The frustration was clear, but the real issue wasn’t. I couldn’t get to the root of the matter. Was it exhaustion? A misunderstanding? Did something happen at school? What was really going on?
I never figured it out. My questioning and probing did no good with the child sprawled across my bed, so I couldn’t make sense of it.
Which basically summarizes being a parent.
I’ll never forget bringing home a 5 pound newborn and listening to her cries in the night, wondering what they meant. Hunger? No, she just ate. Wet diaper? No, she was just changed. What was going on? Sometimes I never figured it out.
I’m a person who likes to have answers. I sat in the front row in school, taking copious notes and comparing my answers to those in the back of the book. If I missed a question on a test, I couldn’t let it go until given a thorough explanation. So even now, as an adult, I can’t sleep until I feel like I’ve made sense of things in my mind.
I don’t do well with not knowing. But being a parent means often not having the right answer.
Where should he go for preschool? Should I enroll her in dance classes? Which brand of formula will agree with her tummy? Is he old enough to leave in the nursery? Should I take 6 or 12 weeks for maternity leave? Will I scar her for life if I go away for the weekend? Is he getting enough sleep? Should I allow that friend to come over? Is he old enough to read Harry Potter?
I don’t know.
So many times over my 12 years of parenting, the conclusion I’ve reached is “I just don’t know.” Because sometimes I just don’t.
And when we just don’t know, there’s only one thing to do.
The best we know how.
When we don’t have the right answers, the best thing we can do is the best we know how. And after that, we trust.
We trust that being a good parent doesn’t mean being a perfect parent, and we trust that the One who created our children will keep them in His care. We trust that one decision won’t ruin their lives, especially if it’s only a matter of preference. We trust that our prayers and parental instincts will mostly lead us the right way, and we trust that most decisions aren’t really that important.
We trust that our kids are more resilient than we know, and we trust that unbridled love is the most important decision, anyway. We trust that our thousands of good decisions will overshadow any less-than-good ones we might make, and we trust that love covers a multitude of sins.
No, I don’t always have the right answers. But I’m learning that sometimes it’s OK not to.