A Window into Life in the Suburbs

"Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these." Luke 12:27 (NIV)

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Parenting is Life (2)

I learnt a very important parenting lesson today about toilet training. While it is without a doubt, an exercise in patience, it is fundamentally about timing. I sort of knew that from the first child but because I'm a bit slow on the uptake, it's only taken root today. Both my girls have been comparatively late adopters of the sit down toilet concept and I've wondered about that many times. I have flipped flopped at various times... blaming myself for not trying hard enough and for trying too hard. In the end, despite all my meagre and best intentions, they both did what they were inclined to when they were inclined to.

3 year old told me the night before last that she didn't need her pull-ups for bed any more and as far as I could tell, she didn't wet her bed. No foul odour eminating from the bed, thank God. She's been doing all her ablutions in the sit down big person toilet the last few days... all on her own. No cajoling, no chastisement, no bribery and no charts. She's been the easy one too. Been sitting on the toilet cheerfully since she was 2 1/2 because she thought all the cool people in the house did it with no concept of its true purpose until the last few months.

There's really nothing glamourous about parenting. It's meat and potatoes, bread and butter stuff. Still, there is something quite exhilarating when the penny drops.
It's a relief... and deeply humbling... just to know that their lives aren't really ours to control.

Of late, I've been hearing a lot about Christopher Hitchens, the well-known British journalist and egregious critic of theism. He's been in the news a fair bit  in recent days because he's been undergoing chemotherapy for oesophageal cancer and I'm guessing that everybody wants to know what a life that has rejected God thinks about impending death. In his article in Vanity Fair, Hitchens talks about his encounter with his mortality. It's deeply moving and extremely well-written. Hitchens is 61 and my mother was almost 63 when she died of cancer a couple of years ago. He writes:

I have been taunting the Reaper into taking a free scythe in my direction and have now succumbed to something so predictable and banal that it bores even me. Rage would be beside the point for the same reason. Instead, I am badly oppressed by a gnawing sense of waste. I had real plans for my next decade and felt I’d worked hard enough to earn it. Will I really not live to see my children married?
It surprises me that someone like Hitchens who has led such a highflying, colourful life is worried about something as "mundane" as not seeing his children married. So perhaps it is true after all that death is still the great leveller. We come to the end and find ourselves occupied with the same concerns in life. We come to the end and we see new significance in the mundane.

At mum's funeral, one of my aunts, in her by-proxy eulogy, mentioned that mum had said to her before her passing that she was ready to go and at peace that all her children were now married and were doing a good job raising their children. My mother was a pretty accomplished person and to hear that was to me a great comfort. One, because mum never told us that herself and Two, because it reminded me that at the end of the day, parents with any shred of affection for their offspring would want nothing more than to see their children do well in life, embracing the values that we've hopefully imparted.

I'm waiting for the day when I publish my first novel... whenever that may be. I'm going to have to write it first, of course. (I keep telling myself that the amount of time I've spent blogging the past few months I could have already finished the first draft of a novel)

But I can't do it yet. Not while the children are young anyway. I don't know how to do it with children around. Perhaps I will get my chance... when they leave the nest...

What if I don't get that chance... I don't know... it's too far ahead to say. I want that chance.
But I also want them to know that mum was there for them when they needed her most.

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