I had my annual performance review at work this past week. All the projects, all the hours, all the metrics were laid out in black and white. A year’s worth of work neatly packaged up and quantifiable with a boss telling me whether I did a good job or not.
It sort of made me wish parenting was as clear as the work we do at, well, work. But at home? With our kids? It’s so much trickier. It’s invisible work. We don’t know what’s working and what isn’t, what’s important and what isn’t. And we won’t know, possibly for decades.
It might be tempting to lean into the clarity of our jobs but that would only be a distraction from the real work. Important, invisible work.
Cecilia has a district trombone audition at the end of the month and its been interesting to watch her approach it. Initially, we did try to give her more feedback and try to get her to understand the gravity and level of preparation required. Of course, this was coming from two middle aged people with years of experience.
Kids have comparatively little experience, wisdom, so confidence. It’s nuts. And of course hearing about our own expectations (and maybe projections) doesn’t help. We finally came to our senses and stepped back. We would still be there if she needed us, but we weren’t going to lean into it. It was her thing. She would take what she would from it. She would gain some experience.
In this way, parents are very much like producers–we provide the funding. We connect them with the right talent. We help them solve problems. We are there to comfort through disappointments. We help the artist realize their vision…and we gladly let them take all the credit when they succeed.
Welcome to January. Maybe just the thought of life changes or resolutions makes you tired. Maybe it energizes you. Just make sure you’re running toward something, and not just away from something.
After a solid year of indoctrinating the girl’s into the genius of Prince, maybe it’s time to go further down the funk rabbit hole. New Year’s resolutions always make me think of the Sly and The Family Stone’s line:
Running away to get away
You’re wearing out your shoes
Look at you fooling you
Change can be good. Just make it intentional and reasonable.
A little self-discipline is good, but you also need some self-forgiveness, don’t fool yourself if you want to make it stick.
All I want for Christmas is a crowded table. The kids want the presents. As a parent, I just want presence.
I love seeing them excited about the gifts but I get more excited when they don’t disappear into phones or air pods but pile into the kitchen to help with a meal and then gather around the table together.
That seems like a good measure of success as a parent.
The shot of summer late this week reminded everyone of two things: first, Dad’s rules on using the air conditioning and second, summer Dad camp is not that far away.
This year was the first where we didn’t sign up them up for camps and then tell them where they were going. We let them choose. This might have been a mistake. Turns out most kids have no idea how to make a decision.
What seems obvious to us, dinner, wardrobe, book to read next. Is an almost existential crises for them. How can they pick a summer camp when they can’t pick a cereal?
Turns out I vastly underestimating the amount of skill and experience in making decisions. Sure, most of the decisions we make as an adult mean nothing. Pick something and move on. But to kids it can be almost paralyzing. At least my kids.
This will be the summer of choice. Perhaps empowerment. Perhaps regret. But they will choose. They will learn. Life is a series of decisions. They will be prepared.
It was one of those roller coaster weeks the seemed to consist of only parental highs and lows. One hour you are crushing it on Dad cruise control. The next hour you’re in the gutter and feeling guilty that you’re not doing enough.
I’m lucky that neither Michelle nor I fall into the guilt trap together very often. We have each other to pull us out, but God bless single parents. But that guilt. It’s impossible to avoid all the time. You might feel it for what you’ve done as parents. For what you haven’t done as parents. For what you think maybe you could or should or need to have done.
Here’s the thing: the guilt doesn’t help. Easier to see when you’re not in the throes of it, but it doesn’t make you a better parent. It only makes you feel worse. If anything, it takes a toll on you that makes it harder for you to actually get yourself out of that emotional spiral.
This Dad and Mom gig is hard. You have screwed up before and will screw up again. There’s not a lot of room for guilt. We have to focus on what we can do now. What we can change now. What we can tell them now. Hint: I love you, I support you, I’m here to help you.
That’s it. And it’s more than enough to feel good about as a parent.
I was surprised to learn that you don’t need to to autolyse your pizza dough. In fact, it may be detrimental. All the artisan bread recipes say you need a rest period, typically called autolyse (AUTO-leese) after the initial mix. That it is critical to let the dough rest and for the gluten chains to form. If it is so critical to good, well developed artisanal bread, then why is the step often lacking in pizza dough recipes?