Perhaps I was a bit hasty in claiming to have realized the greatest fallacy of parenthood. All submissions ring painfully true, and could be - and may be - discussed in further depth. I think that all of us, no matter how much we babysat, helped raise younger siblings, carefully observed peers as parents, or otherwise considered ourselves prepared for the realities of parenthood, have experienced the shock of having our assumptions shattered, one by one. Assumptions that we were so sure were true that we didn't even know they were assumptions; they went without saying. But now we are saying them, and we call them fallacies.So without further ado, which is the greatest of them all?
That the parents are in charge.
Responsible, yes. In control of many things, I'll give you. But in charge? Sadly, we are not.
This came up in conversation with my sister Maren when I was venting about the sudden chaos that has taken over what was formerly regular naptimes for both girls. Suddenly Hazel's not napping one day, crashing on the floor mid-morning the next, totally throwing off the nap zen she'd achieved over a year ago. And don't get me started on Ginger's "schedule." I was explaining each example, complaining about the illogical injustice of it - "What's going on here?" And this clever mom of three gave the only explanation that can be given: "You're not in charge." (Choirs, spotlight.) "As much as you want to be, you're not in charge."
By "in charge" I guess I mean controlling all parties - in this case, making the kids do exactly what I want when I want. I can suggest, bribe, persuade, threaten, tempt, request, beg and manipulate but in the end there are few things I can force them to do. I suppose this goes for all ages. I've got a little more control but less leverage with these little ones, and I assume (there I go again!) that those scales will tip the other way as they get older.
Of course my Mom has been telling me this for years, at least since my first "HELP!" phone call after Hazel was born. Each time it would half sink in, but then I would counter that when I was little I sure thought my parents were in charge.
"Right," she would answer.
Ah. So it was all an elaborate hoax, and I fell for it. I would feel like a schmuck except for two things:
1. Feeling like my parents were in charge provided me with a feeling of safety and security while growing up, and allowed me, as I got older, to develop independence over time, and
2. Now that I'm a parent, this bodes in my favor. Even when things are totally out of my control, if I can keep the kids believing I'm in charge, we may have a measure of familial harmony.
Kids are who they are, and meant to be free agents. Not to say we as parents can let it all go to pot; we certainly have to give it the ol' college try and teach them how to be responsibly independent, among other things. But with the very little ones who are constantly, and so quickly, developing and maturing, I at least need to stop wasting time wondering, "Why?" and start asking, "How can we make the most of this?" or at least, "How can we get through this?"