I have a working theory that supposes that (intentional*) parents are all working to give their children, not only a good life, but a better life than they had as children themselves. A kind of, "There. I fixed it." parenting.
This theory is based on me.
(Okay, and a few friends I've polled about it, but yeah. Mostly me... and The Mister.)
Here are some more thoughts I have been thinking about that.
Since the glorious running-through-meadows-in-slow-mo freedom of the Summer, we've pretty much let bed time go. Instead, at 9pm, we invite the people to have some quiet time in their own spaces. The premise is that they are free to play until they are ready to go to sleep.
My chronically social son who cannot bare to spend a moment alone always chooses to go to sleep instead. (To be fair to him, 9 0'clock is usually when his battery runs out anyway.)
My chronically self sufficient daughter, on the other hand. She seems to really enjoy that time and stays up till about 10 or 10:30.
There we were in the middle of Breaking Bad, The Mister and I, and we heard The Call - "I'm ready to go to slee-eep!" We immediately popped up and trooped in to give her goodnight kisses and cuddles. As I was walking in, I thought to myself how lucky she is to have This. After all, I don't recall being tucked in by anyone, let alone BOTH parents every night. Neither did I have the scandalous luxury of staying up and playing till I was ready to go to sleep.
She sure has a cushy happy childhood to look back on, I thought.
I realized that's probably what my parents were thinking about me. And rightly so, given some of the experiences they've related to me about their own upbringing. My life was pretty damn cushy. And my father, now ass-less, worked it off to provide me with said life. My mother made it a point to share some really meaningful experiences with me and to build strong relational bonds with me. While I cannot speak for them with absolutely certainty, I know for a fact that at least one of them was working to give me the kind of life(style) that they never had.
It's a kind of double vision that seems inevitable for parents. There is the life the parent had as a child, and that which they (hope to) create for their own children.
I suppose we don't have any choice but to start with our defining memories, the history that was given to us in first, second and third persons, and to some how 'retrofix' it through our actions now.
Which led me to the conclusion that my own children may someday - if they become parents (or even if they don't) - look back at their childhood and see missing pieces; things they would do differently. Which then led to me finally conclude that no matter what I do, it will one day be seen as lacking.
And hopefully, reconciled. Seen for what it really is, which is me doing the very damned best that I can with all the resources that are available to me. Double vision and all.
* I say "intentional" because I think some parents don't give even one single iota about what kind of job they are doing or care about what kind of life their children have. Obviously, those are not the parents I'm talking about here.