Monday, March 9, 2015

Parenthood – Week 93: The Choices We Make

I talk to my students about making choices all of the time. On the wall of my classroom there’s a piece of paper, which in large letters reads “choose _______.” The idea is that whatever they are going to do in class is an active choice. They choose to participate, they choose to be a positive member of the class or they choose to be disruptive. It’s actually not that simple as many of my students are in developmental stages where their words and actions aren’t really active choices, but this mantra, this idea of choice and self-determination is empowering for many students.

The thing about choices that I didn’t realize until becoming a parent is that decisions limit other choices in life. The fact that Diana and I chose to have Ollie, meant that we had fewer choices that we could go out to eat as a family. The fact that we chose a certain type of residential arrangement gave us fewer choices financially, which led to less choices around our careers and childcare options for Ollie.

The common response to the complaint “I don’t like the daycare my son is going to,” is “well, you chose that daycare, so simply choose another one.” The reality is that it is never that simple. First off, finding the right daycare or a nanny is very difficult. Often parents aren’t choosing between many good options, but only find one or two that are feasible. If this is the case, then shouldn’t a parent have been aware of all of these issues before choosing to go to work necessitating daycare?

There’s the rub.

You do the best you can to prepare for all of these issues as a parent but the reality is that you don’t know the consequences of all of your choices until it’s right in your face. Generation gaps, parental amnesia and our societies’ refusal to openly discuss or address most issues associated with economical, emotional and societal challenges related to parenting, leaves too many of us jumping in the deep end that is parenting, barely knowing how to swim.

Maybe we can’t know all of the consequences of our choices as parents but we should be made aware of more of them. Yes, it could be worse, but it could be a lot better.

I'm choosing to deal with all of the consequences of my choices, but sometimes I feel lost, sometimes I want to complain and sometimes I want a break from it all.  I also choose to deal with all of these feelings, choose to focus on the joy of parenting and choose to be for my own son.

Becoming a parent isn't just one choice.  It's a cascade of decisions, interwoven together into the fabric of our lives.  Sometimes it takes all you got to keep your head about the maelstrom.

Choose to not give up on yourself and your child.  It may be the most important choice you make in your life.

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