Imagine trying to build a house, sew a garment, or do anything that requires precision with rulers that are just a bit off. At first you may not realize that you are off the mark, but upon completion and you move in to the house/wear the garment, etc. will you realize that sumpin’ ain’t right as we say in the South.
In this vein, I often think of my father, who was an architect of the old school, before computer aided design (CAD). He had a magical assortment of T-squares, triangles, straight edges, protractors, and other tools of the trade to help him draw accurate scale drawings by hand. As a youngster I would examine his array of tools displayed on the hole-filled pegboard that all fathers in the 60’s seemed to have in some part of their home, office or garage, and wonder what each one was for, and why he had so many of them. The end result of his labors often provided us with pages and pages of blueprints that he would bring home for us to make homemade “coloring books.” I can still smell those blueprints, and though it is rare for me to handle a real blueprint anymore, I often want to stop by Athens Blueprint & Copy Shop on my way home from choir practice and just smell the place. (Maybe it would not smell the same, but rather there would be an array of scents with pretentious names like Umber Toast or Celadon Spring.) It might be better if I just continue to drive by the place every Wednesday and feel nostalgic.
When I got older I realized that when it comes to parenting, there is no perfect T-square, ruler, triangle, and that my dad knew that, but he could use his skill and experience to get as close to the ideal as humanly possible. The buildings he designed ended up being sturdy, safe, and attractive, even if they weren’t perfect. They are sprinkled across Western Pennsylvania and I wish I could get up there more often to tour these structures, especially now that Dad is no longer with us. I imagine though that the bank, library, and schools that he designed do not want an older person with tissues in hand walking around the building in a tearful trip to bountiful. Again, perhaps it is best if I simply look at the pictures. But I digress.
Along the same lines, when searching for perfect parenting methods or tools, it is good to remember that we’re skewed. We want to do the right thing by our kids, but our parenting experience will be a blend of the good, the bad, and the ugly side of us. On the bad/ugly side we have our sin nature, our insecurities, our misconceptions, and our overcompensation for what we feel our own parents overlooked, just as they attempted to right the wrongs of the previous generation, and this will go in perpetuity. (As Isaac Newton explained for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.)
On the good side we will bring our love, passion, talent, time, and treasure, and share it with the amazing little people who now call us Mom and Dad, just as our parents did with us. (For those who did not have a happy home life growing up, there is always the negative template–not to be flippant, but one can often recall what not to do.)
We will do this to the best of our ability, with God’s grace, and that is all ok. We don’t have to be perfect, our parents weren’t, and our offspring won’t be. So for those waiting for their bundles of joy, relax and ask God to help you, to give you wisdom, and to give you patience, and love. That is a pretty good starter kit for young parents.
I know some of you new moms have asked me to share more details about life with a newborn. I promise I will write about that soon…just as soon as I figure out a way to make that funny. I realize that some of your newborns will be in middle school by then but…till next time.