The other day, I came across a copy of one of the first columns I ever wrote. It was about being a parent. As I read my own words from 14 years ago, I found myself laughing at the naiveté.
The simple worries of a parent with a baby.
Well, that "baby" has just celebrated his 16th birthday, and his younger brother and sister are far from being babies as well.
The headline on that column read: "How do you know if you've done right?"
If nothing else, in the past 14 years I've learned the answer to that question: You don't.
Sure, one gets an inkling from time to time, but then a day later something happens that makes you think again.
There are just so many more things to worry about as our children get older. Not to mention the serious issues like alcohol, sex and drugs, there are so many things that can take a child's mind off their education. And a good education is where a successful future starts.
When they're babies, the main concern is trying to understand what certain cries mean. Are they hungry? Do they feel bad? Is a diaper change all they need?
Then comes the power of speech. And after the 764th time they've asked the question, "Why?" one almost wishes for the guessing games of the past. Then come the teenage years, and it's back to the guessing game once again.
"How was school today?"
"What are you doing?"
"What are your plans for the night?"
For a person who makes her living with words, answers like that just don't cut it with me, and that's when I become a pain in the butt.
"Mom, sometimes you just care too much."
Too much? How can a parent care too much?
The oldest is a lot like his mom, poor guy, so perhaps that's why we butt heads so often. At least that's what my husband says. Unfortunately, he's usually right about stuff like that.
But I do care, and if that makes me an overprotective parent, well then, that's just what I'll have to be.
When will we know if we've done right?
Perhaps someday they'll tell us themselves.