2 min read

Trying Hard

Trying Hard

🍼 With a babe in arms, it is no wonder I've been thinking a lot about parenting and my place in the world.

It's a surreal place I'm in, having both this stunning little 4mo who depends on me for so much, and an incredible 16yo near-adult who’s dependence on me is now tenuous at best.

It’s not a liminal state, I’m not in-between. I’m living as consciously as I can, aware of it all, choosing it all, every day. But it is surreal.

Both of these kids are learning so much about the world for the first time; the older a little more confident in what they think they already know. Babies are happy to just be. Teens need to decide constantly and continuously what will make them happy. Who they’re gonna be.

I find it hard to find time to ruminate on what it means to be a parent; how I’m doing at it, if I could be doing better, and what I’ve been doing wrong.

It’s hard to meditate on, because you’re always going. You’re always doing, reacting, responding. Paying attention, doing the things, worrying if they’ve eaten enough (it doesn’t end when they can feed themselves).

You dream about them.
It’s relentless.

This quiet morning with the fall rain, while everyone was asleep, I had an epiphany on something I’ve been doing wrong:

I, too often, too strongly, project my life onto theirs; I assume their path will be similar, but better, than my own.

I don’t always let them be them.
Not really. Not free of my own experience.

I think it’s a natural thing for parents to do; you see them as a tiny you. Better than you, but at their core, you. The next version of you. The new you you made with someone you love.

It is natural because they’re a part of you; literally, figuratively, spiritually, emotionally—they are you. Of you.

Letting them be their own, discover and grow and desire on their own, it’s hard sometimes. It has been for me.

But I’m learning, or trying to, not be that way.

As a parent, you can’t always assume. You shouldn’t assume. You need to watch carefully and listen closely. You can watch for clues and interpret actions to help divine intentions. You should let them love what they love. Be who they will be.

I’m trying hard to do that for both of them.

A bunch of essays, photos and thoughts by Pat Castaldo.