Wednesday, February 26, 2014

I found the recipe for the PERFECT parent. You have to try it out!

I made a pizza the other day. As I normally do. I didn't use a recipe, I just throw things together. I've made it so many times, that I knew what I was doing and I had never been disappointed before. I promise, it's just that good. Except this time, I bought a pizza sauce from Trader Joe's instead of using the tomato paste that I normally use. It wasn't my first time using the pizza sauce, however, I had used it on a different crust. I didn't even think that it could possibly turn out differently if I used it on the whole wheat dough. But it did, it was mushy, and it was terrible.

Around this time, I was thinking about how different my children are. How although I have done everything the exact same {for the most part}, they react in their own ways to situations. They're unique and they are their own pizza dough with their own sauce, their own ingredients, and their own directions for cooking.

Whoever would have thought that I would have compared my children to food.

Parenting. The best way to describe---- it's like a recipe. You would never think, seeing as how the two have nothing to do with one another, and you may even be certain that I have fallen off my rocker. However, if you start to talk about what each entails, you begin to understand how the best way to define parenting would be by comparing it to just that. A good old fashioned recipe. A recipe which consists of three components; Ingredients, directions , and comments {constructive criticism if you will}

You see, parenting is very distinct, subjective, and full of experts, non-experts, and people that seem to know it all and those that want to know it all. You don't even have to have children to be an expert in parenting. Amazing how that works. In fact, it seems you need no experience at all to know what works and what doesn't, what is effective and what isn't, or what will turn out to be good or not. Imagine being confident that a recipe will turn out perfect without ever even cooking it yourself first.

I don't know about you, but I know when I try a recipe for the first time, I'm a little hesitant. I look over the ingredients, I analyze the instructions, and I think about whether I even have the right tools or equipment to get it done. Doesn't matter how simple of a recipe it may be, I still have to process it all and decide how sure I am that it will work out. Better yet, that my entire family will enjoy it. I also like to compare recipes to others. See what other people chose to do instead. Read what suggestions were made. And figure out which style suits us best. It's like reading all the different parenting books. Different parenting styles. Trying to find the one that sounds right for you. You read what other people have to say, if that particular style worked for them, or if that technique brought success or not. And after doing the reading, the research, and the going back and forth, you finally decide to do the prep work.

The first time you go through this parenting gig may be similar to the first time you try out the recipe. Where you follow every detail line for line and not miss a single ingredient down to the exact measurements. When the product comes out, you taste it. Perhaps something was off. Perhaps overall it was a success but it could have been better. It always can be better. So, that second time around? You may decide to try something different. You may add an ingredient, take away an ingredient, add a spice here or take a spice away there. As time goes by, the more you make the recipe, the longer you parent, the easier it gets, the better it becomes, and the less you rely on the instructions. You follow your taste, you follow your instinct, you pay attention to your child's cues and you do just learn to do it naturally.

And then when someone asks you for the recipe? You stumble to give them exactly what they are looking for. You realize that you just do. And that's just a hard one to translate into measurements. 

It's funny to me that I have yet to find the perfect mac n' cheese recipe. It's MACARONI AND CHEESE! I hear you. But it's true. I've tried so many different recipes. There are a million searches when you google the recipe. Yet, not one has left me with that feeling of... "yes, I'm putting this in the books." 

I have yet to find the perfect parenting book or expert that will yield that very result as well. You can google, you can research, you can talk to however many people you want, and everyone will have a slightly different version of what they think will produce the healthiest child {in all aspects}. They may have a similar foundation, but most definitely will not be the exact same.

The thing about parenting is that you cannot clump people into a category based on what they do/don't do. Although some people may refer to themselves as practicing a specific parenting technique/guideline, rest assured that they may not do everything that is proposed in that specific category. The foundation is there, sure---we used a whole wheat crust. You even layered it the same---tomato paste. But then when you think of what you want to add on, or what you like, it may differ. My pizza may turn out different than yours. I, for one, don't like mushrooms. You may. I know many parents who believe in cloth diapering, extended breastfeeding, baby wearing, co-sleeping. But they hate olives. They never did baby led weaning and they vaccinate their children. Same goes with some people who are relaxed about certain rules in the house but are diligent about others. Some who believe in not feeding their children a particular food group but will indulge in another that others may not agree on.

There are just no two parents that are the same, just as there are no two children that are the same. Just as a recipe may not turn out the same because people have different tastes, different likes and dislikes, as well as the choice to do something however which way they please.

I like my pizza a certain way, with certain ingredients, and baked at a certain temperature. You may like my pizza, but there is also a possibility that you may not. You may want to take the onions off, or you may want to add on some spices. You may just hate vegetables all together.

The great thing is that no one forces you to eat the pizza. You have the choice to have a taste, and you have the choice of whether or not you want to try that again or not. Be respectful that recipes/tastes vary across the board, and that parenting choices differ from person to person. Even your friends won't and don't do the exact same thing that you do with your children.

I've figured out that we have to be our own expert of our own recipes. Nothing will come out perfect the first time, and most likely perfect is just not something that will be part of our lives. That is okay. We may change our tastes, we may change the way we do things, and we may even change our tools that we are so used to using.

For me, I'm okay with trying a recipe and failing. Hungry, but okay. I'm okay with trying something different with my children and figuring out that it's just not for us. Frustrated, but okay. I'm okay with not doing this parenting thing the same as everyone else or cooking the recipe exactly how the experts tell me to cook it.

I've learned that the best kind of recipes, or parenting advice, are those that come out naturally

Ones that we know the best, and ones that we trust the most.

Ones that are passed down to us from older generations in our family.

You can read as much as you want. Research as much as you'd like. But until you try it out, and until you figure out what works for you, you won't know exactly which route you'll take in this parenting journey. Sometimes, you'll even be surprised at what you end up liking. And doing.

It is like a recipe. No one is alike. Everyone has different tastes. And no expert out there can be the expert of your children.

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