Education, Preparation and Kinda-Sorta-Parenting

14 Mar

I am a psychology major. This phrase is almost second nature to me, because I get asked a lot – “Oh you’re in college? That’s wonderful! What is your major?” It comes with the territory of going to school; it’s an icebreaker, an easy topic of conversation. You’ll know what I’m talking about one day.

 Honestly, I have no idea what I’m going to do with it. Honestly, I just majored in it because I found it interesting, not because it promised any flourishing career choices. Honestly, I want to be a writer. But I actually get up in the morning looking forward to my day. I am always excited to sign up for classes. I’m a certifiable nerd and I love it. Because I find psychology interesting, I retain almost all of the information I learn.

 This semester, I am taking Developmental Psychology. I actually had an exam today on cognitive developmental theories, language development and emotional development in infants and toddlers. I know…it sounds SO exciting. Actually, developmental psychology was not a class I ever thought I would be all too interested in. But now, I’m scrambling to learn all that I can. Why? Well, you of course!

 Yesterday, I wrote you a letter about how your were fascinated with blowing raspberries. That once you learned how to, you didn’t stop for weeks. Last night while studying for my exam, I learned that was called a “circular reaction” – when babies learn they can do something and then do it over and over again.

 I know that big college words mean nothing to you right now (because on occasion, they mean very little to me), but I almost feel like I’m cheating on my imaginary parenting test by learning all of this stuff about little ones. It’s neat, though – it’s like getting a glimpse into your mind and how you learn and what you understand. I am becoming well versed in toddler-ese and secretly, I’m hoping that this class, with my knowledgeable professor and tell-all textbook, will  teach me even more ways to connect with you. I might even be hoping that it teaches me how to parent.

 Truthfully, sometimes I wonder if I can consider myself a parent. The title of mother comes with being pregnant and giving birth to you and loving you like crazy, but there are times where I don’t feel as if I’ve earned the “parent” title. Why? Well because it IS something you earn. Being a parent is something you learn by doing, and technically, I don’t think I’ve done it yet.

 Another reason I’m not sure I can be considered a parent? Because the idea of parenting still terrifies me to no end.

 I can’t imagine the pressure of being  parent – you’re responsible for another life. Someone is looking up to you, whether you’re admirable at the time or not. Someone is following your example with no regard as to whether or not it’s worth following. Understanding the impact you have on your child…that’s the biggest parenting scare to me. How you treat them, how you talk to them, whether or not you support one thing over another, the smallest decisions or reactions…it shapes their lives. What kind of parent you are can make or break your child; I’ve seen the results.

 But the thing is, I still mess up. I still make mistakes. I still swear in traffic and wake up late and leave dishes in the sink for days. I’m not perfect yet. I don’t see a day when I will ever be perfect, but I still want to be a parent, and the two seem mutually exclusive. I always imagined you had to be past the “messing up stage” before you could be responsible for getting someone else through it. That’s the kind of parent I wanted to be anyways.

 I am your mother. And one day, I hope you will look up to me and follow my example and come to me for advice. But right now and forever, The B’s are your parents. They are responsible for all of the stuff that scares me and they seem to do it effortlessly, fearlessly. I’m over here with my Developmental Psych textbook, praying that the information I learn will somehow prevent me from accidentally screwing you up for life, and they’re over there just…being parents, not seeming to worry about whether or not they’re doing it right, and you are the happiest baby I’ve ever met. I don’t know how they do it, but I admire them.

 Even amongst my doubts that I can be considered one, I hope you see me as a parent. I hope that one day you see me as a role model. The only reason I’m afraid to be one is because I want to be the best one I can be for you. I want to be the best shining example of love and support possible. I want to be everything you will ever need. I want to say the right things at the right time. I want to be perfect for you. I know it’s not possible, but I want you to know that even though I can’t be perfect, I will do my best for you. I will overcome my parenting fears for you. I will stop worrying about doing it right and just love you instead. Maybe that’s all it takes. Either way, you deserve it.

 But until then, don’t mind the big, heavy textbooks that I lug around with me and stay up late reading at night. A little education and preparation never hurt anyone, right?

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3 Responses to “Education, Preparation and Kinda-Sorta-Parenting”

  1. Peter F. Hartwick March 14, 2012 at 11:47 pm #

    Two things:

    One, you already are a writer, and a very good one too!

    Two, “Perfection” is not a destination; it is an ongoing pursuit that eludes capture, simply because you never stop trying, and the definition is perpetually changing.

  2. infertilityawakening March 15, 2012 at 10:37 am #

    Renee,
    When I was a junior in college my professor called me up after class and asked me what my major was (it was Hotel/Resort Management–not really because I loved that, but because it just sort of worked out that way). When I told her she looked me straight in the eye and said very directly “Why? You write better than my grad students. You need to be a writer for women’s magazines. The world needs your voice.” That day Sheri Carinci planted a seed that forever changed my life–though it took 15 years to sprout.

    Why do I tell you this story?

    Because now I am a professor, and I read your words, I hear you say that what you really want is to be a writer. So Renee, I am calling you to the front of the classroom and passing on the gift once given to me. You write better than any student I have read essays from. The world needs your voice. Follow that inner passion and drive. Write!

    You’ve been given the gift (a rare gift) to speak in a way that allows even strangers to listen. So write Renee, write! Write as though the life of your soul depended on it. Because for those of us who were born to light the world with the pens that flow from our very souls, a part of us will never fully live without those words being born into the world.

    • Letters to Little Man March 17, 2012 at 12:19 pm #

      Wow, thank you so much. I can’t tell you what that encouragement means to me. I will definitely continue to write! Thanks for being my Sheri Carinici :)

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