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(all baby owls think a lot)

DH and I have been separate for 8 months now. I moved out of the house 4 months ago. I've been doing a lot of thinking, about lots of different things.


I'm forever grateful that DH and I were always and remain still on the same page as far as parenting goes. The separation has caused no great struggle there: we support each other in our mutual contention that none of this is Jack's fault and we both love him very much. I won't fault DH in his parenting (except to note that he's not dependable, but that touches every aspect of his life, not just his parenting). Even if I did, there's nothing I could do about it.

The best I can do is examine my own parenting and work on being the best mom I can be, raising the boy I have to honor his potential, become a functioning member of society, and, hopefully, do a little better job at it than his dad and I did.

Am I doing it wrong?

Most of the time I go with my gut. Most of the time I make my own decisions. What feels right for this family of two? Is it OK that we occupy the same space but we're each hooked up to a different electronic device, sometimes for hours at a time? Is it OK that this child of mine thinks fruits and vegetables are poison? Is it OK that more often than not we sleep together on the bottom bunk in this tiny one-bedroom apartment I've rented?

I've turned to the dewey decimal system for some help. Last week at the library I checked out two books: Good-Enough Mother by Rene Syler and Raising Boys Without Men by Dr. Peggy Drexler.

I endured all 1050 pages of L. Ron Hubbard's Battlefield Earth. I've read 76 pages of Syler's Good-Enough Mother and I'm returning it to the library. Nonfiction is somehow easier for me to give up on. First, I'm naive enough that I didn't know Rene Syler is (was?) a TV newscaster, but I should have known just by the jacket's photographs what kind of book I was picking up. On the cover she's all done up, and so are her kids, and they're darling and smiling and perfect. Photos on the back cover show them in more of their smiling perfection, even when Syler is mock-reprimanding her son with a gentle shove to his shoulder.

The premise of the book is a good one: kids are going to present you challenges, and your energy will already be depleted by the demands of a full-time job and a husband, so how do you do the best you can without going crazy? Syler contends that your efforts are good enough. Well, thanks, Rene. But because I found your book in the parenting category of the dewey decimal system, I guess I was expecting more solid advice and less memoir. I get it. Your kids are ill-behaved, but aren't their antics cute, and didn't you show serious aplomb in the way you weathered that grocery store temper tantrum by invoking your "I don't care" mantra? You obviously care more about yourself than your reader. It's classic "Enough about me. Let's talk about you. What do you think of me?"

I'll crack open Raising Boys Without Men next. At least it's penned by "a research psychologist and former gender scholar at Stanford" and reviews reveal it's well-researched. That's what I was looking for when I turned to books on parenting.

Speaking of books on parenting, the title of this post is an oft-repeated line from Martin Waddell's children's book Owl Babies, which in itself is a good book on parenting from the child's perspective. Sarah, Percy, and Bill wake up one night to find their mother is gone. They think about it, wonder where she is, turn to each other for comfort, and ultimately rejoice in their mother's return. After she swoops in, she says, "What's all the fuss? Didn't you know I'd come back?" The owl babies knew it. And I guess that's the best a mother can do. Be there for her kids.


Gnightgirl said…
My friend wrote this post 5 years ago, and it so resonated with me that I went to search for it, just for you.

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