At this stage in pregnancy, I’m thinking less of perfect parenting than damage limitation. I keep telling Glen, he’s got to be normal enough for us both. Nonetheless, I’ve been doing a bit of market research on the parenting business – and I’m struck by how fraught with guilt it can easily become.
Breast-feeding (Because “Mother Nature” knows best and anything else is short-changing your child) versus Bottle (Because Mummy needs flexibility and Daddy must pull his weight too)
Disposable nappies versus The Environment.
Full-time Nursery Care (Because Mum’s career is vital too) or Staying At Home (Because you LOVE Your Child).
Routine or Freestyle.
Daddy Day Care or Mummy Dearest.
Frankly, I haven’t a clue. But it strikes me that without the gospel, parenting becomes an overwhelming arena for guilt and shame. The child-rearing options available to you are never just options, they come down from on high, written in tablets of stone. We’ve barely begun but it feels like the law abounds and condemnation is always just around the corner.
It should be obvious that I’m new to all this but here’s what I’m thinking… Surely, as with friendship and relationships and work and free time and life …you take it as it comes and you do your georgey best and you pray and you make mistakes and actually, that’s ok?
This at least, is what I’m banking on. (That and an amazing singing sheep that some friends gave us which replicates womb noises. No joke).
It’s hard enough taking responsibility for yourself, let alone someone else. And of course you’re gonna screw it up. But hopefully you – and your kids – learn from your mistakes as well as your triumphs. They learn not to be scared of negative emotions. They learn that Mum makes mistakes, but she can apologise to God and He forgives her and helps her to start again. They learn that their parents aren’t perfect – but their heavenly Father is. They learn the difference between perfect and good enough; between winning and trying; between looking beautiful and being beautiful. They learn that every day is a gift of grace. And as they learn, their parents learn too.