Archives for posts with tag: parenting

Browsing through a bookstore the other day, I came across (on the buy 2 get 3 table) a book by Larry Winget, titled “Your Kids Are Your Own Fault”.

I picked it up out of curiosity. Wow… Yep, featured on Fox News… um, okay…

As I gingerly placed the book back on the table (didn’t want those cooties!), my Best Friend told me I needed to buy it. We argued for a few minutes, until I realized that I’d be getting the book for free anyway (3 for 2, you know…). I relented.

About a week later, I opened it up in a mall food court after having spent a couple hours at the DMV (seemed appropriate…), and I began to skim the pages.

If you’ve read how I feel about Fox News, you can imagine how quickly I skimmed. Just following my Spiritual Guide’s instructions – minimally. Yes, I felt verbally assaulted and insulted by Mr. Winget’s presentation.

But I continued skimming, shocked with myself.

Damn, I agree with this guy.

He’s got some good ideas about parenting… Yes, Larry, I’m already doing all these things you suggest… Thank you for the affirmation… Gee, maybe my great kid is my “fault”…

As I drove home, I contemplated the new world I had entered: a world in which I agree with someone associated with Fox News.

Maybe I’m not liberal after all… Maybe I do need to watch more TV… Maybe Larry’s right, and the world is a mess…

…maybe I’m going to hell in a handbasket…

Here’s the thing: Larry’s book is a little over 250 pages long. He could have presented his parenting philosophy in about 25 pages – max. He chose to fill about 200 pages with words like this:

“If you are looking at a thirty-five-year-old disaster, face it, folks: it’s too late. You have failed as a parent. You have failed yourself, your child, and your child’s children. You have failed society. And all of us will end up bearing the burden of your failure. Thanks! Think of that next time you bump into a thirty-five-year-old idiot; you should send his parents a thank you note because it’s their fault.” (from page 12)

Why? Why does he feel he has to yell at me – yes, me? (he specifies that several times…)

I wonder why people “like Larry Winget” (who are, of course, empty of inherent existence) feel they need to yell at people to get their ideas across.

Maybe he thinks I’m stupid and can’t think for myself.

Here’s the Buddhist stream-of-consciousness commentary:

Well, if Larry Winget is appearing to my mind, then I created the cause for this appearance, my angry-commentator-karma has ripened, oh damn, what do I do, what do I do?

Then my Best Friend pointed out: No, we brought him to your attention, you’re just peeking into the world as it appears to others for a moment… It’ll be over soon…

Whew. That’s better. I’m so glad Larry Winget stopped yelling at me. Now I can get on with my (hopefully) loving parenting.

By the way, if my son turns out all right, please give him the credit. All I’ve done is tried to be a good mom.

(this post was inspired by this post from giulas41 and this post by Anupadin)


I put together this little video

We had a remarkable snow here in Atlanta a week or two ago.

On one of my walks I was struck by the sight of the melting snow running undernearth the crust of ice on the street.

It looked like the pavement was crying… reminded me of an essay I had written on Heartbreak

Think about how much an active womb resembles a roulette wheel. The shape, the throwing of the ball into the bowl, the chances taken – all of it fits on some level.

I believe I know why I’ve never heard of a gambling-themed baby shower.

Just the same, I can think of three ways parenthood resembles a trip to Biloxi. Thrilling uncertainty: it lures even “practical” people into wild visions of delight. The chance of walking away with a “gift”: this appeals to anyone with a shred of longing. But the willingness to accept any outcome… now that, ladies and gentlemen, really brings the analogy home for me.

When we’re expecting, we examine many things, just as others examine us. Of all the wonderful explorations that occur around conception, birth and growth, my most riveting came from one question: “Am I ready to – consciously – surrender the rest of my life to uncertainty?”

Parents never discover the effect their little bundle of joy will have on their lives until it arrives. Then we often – unconsciously – commit to fulfilling all the expectations of others and ourselves. Most of these expectations catch us unawares after we’ve walked away with the winnings. Sure, we can make decisions. We can decide what numbers to play. But if we think that gives us control, we’re kidding ourselves. Children have an amazing knack for dropping into whatever slot on the wheel they pick, regardless of where we placed our hard-earned cash. Even when all the medical screenings come back bright and cheerful, and even if our DNA seems promising, we cannot predict how many times we’ll have to keep our cool in the toy aisle. Or take a deep breath when our teenager has a meltdown. Or watch our 3-year-old undergo general anesthesia.

If you can walk away from a table in Biloxi empty-handed and still say you had a good time, then you’re ripe for parenthood (and life). No matter the outcome, we can find ways to experience our children as amazing gifts and teachers. No amount of cash winnings can compete with that. Actually, children emerge to surprise and test us. This may come as a surprise, but your roulette wheel is biased. And it’s also all arranged in advance. That’s the funny part: we get exactly what we asked for. We just didn’t anticipate how our wishes would come true.

For instance, I went through years trying to figure out the cleverest way to please the most people, so that my life could be predictable and “successful”. In 2000, my son received an Autism diagnosis; he quite often rolls outside the region of expectation and predictability. Yet every time I stop cringing in dread of unpleasant outcomes and uncover my eyes long enough to see how we’re doing, what do I see? This beautiful boy instinctively understands and lives what’s important… and makes good grades too. Over the years, I’ve noticed that every one of his little “quirks” seems to directly address one of my hang-ups. One by one, he helps me release them. What a selfless gift.

The most powerful blessing arrives with the attitude that accepts whatever arises.

Can you imagine a roulette gambler expecting to control the spin of the wheel and the settling of the ball? Expecting to know how children will turn out creates a similar invitation to learn first-hand about odds. It’s so tempting to plan, hope, dream, and use our children to define ourselves. That’s the giddy anticipation part. Yet those expectations hold no sway over how life unfolds. Parenthood sometimes seems to imply responsibility for the outcome. I visualize gamblers glaring at each other once the ball settles onto its number, as if one of them made it fall right there, right then. Somehow, it’s much easier to laugh at that image than to chuckle at our own unvoiced expectations surrounding parenthood.

When we view parenting like placing a bet on a wheel, we give ourselves permission to have no idea what will come our way. ‘Permission’ plays a key role in how much we enjoy our spin of the wheel. Feeling permission to wonder, question, and observe liberates us. Releasing self-expectation is one of the most generous and liberating acts a parent can perform.

For anyone who experiences an exuberant moment, learning that she/he faces the prospect of parenthood, it’s worth also taking a pregnant pause. Consider the deep blessing of meeting uncertainty as teacher, and that you’re about to get your butt kicked by having your wishes fulfilled. Embracing the uncertainty of parenthood states that you’re willing to take whatever may come, place your bets, and continue breathing while the wheel slows and the ball gets ready to drop.