Today’s word is search. What do I search for? Today, I search for the right way – the right way to be a good mother for example. The right way to be a good friend or a good partner. The right way to be a good employee and a good community member. It’s not simple. First, all these right ways have many aspects to themselves – does my child need comfort or discipline, independence or support? How can I give all that without my child deciding I’m bonkers? (I’ve gone with simply being bonkers. I’m a parent, after all.) Then, the rights have to be balanced against each other. Taking the right way as a parent might mean writing an e-mail, but taking the right way for being a partner might mean watching a show with my spouse. Sending out a resume might be the right thing to do as an employee, or it might be preparing for tomorrow’s lesson. And then there’s taking care of my own needs – spiritual and otherwise. Maybe I could even – gasp – get some sleep. Even when I figure out what might be the next right thing to do, I still have to fight to do it. The next right thing might be to have a glass of water, but I really would rather have some pop instead, and sometimes I just can’t find, no matter how hard I search, the words I need to say to myself to keep myself from grabbing that coke drink.
I search for the answers everywhere. I read the inspirational books, I talk to the inspirational people, I journal in the hopes that my own fingers will reveal the truth. I pray to God, hoping She can keep me sane or safe or something. (She too, being a parent, often seems bonkers.) I go for walks, hoping that the beauty that surrounds me will inspire me. All of those do provide insight – and yet, there are so many moments where I just want to scream because I don’t know what I’m doing.
It’s that “I’m a fraud” feeling that parents occasionally get when they think about all that’s involved and say to themselves, “I can’t possibly do this. I don’t have the skills, I don’t know the right way to parent, and even if I did, there’s no way I have the willpower to make myself do all that stuff.” We decide to pretend that we know what we’re doing until the real parents show up and tell us what to do, and hope that no one finds out – and meanwhile, we search.
It’s a search that I often feel I’m getting further from the answers to all the time. When I was younger, there were aspects that were easier. Heck, before I had kids, parenting wasn’t that hard at all! If you’d only have come to me for advise, I could have told you exactly what to do. With each passing year, and each passing kid, I know less about how to bring them up right. Also, I’m more tired. Doing the right thing time after time is even trickier now than it was. Sometimes, it’s really tempting to do the easy thing even knowing it’s wrong. So, I gulp down the pop, give the kid a candy and we both make it through the horrible whatever-it-was, with me *knowing* beyond the shadow of a doubt that that was the wrong thing to do.
I think about just doing the things that get me through each day, right or wrong. Why am I bothering with this futile and ridiculous search? And yet…it’s not a search I can ever give up on, because people are depending on me. There are people in my community, people in my family, people I work with – many people who depend on me to do the right thing. I have to find what it is, no matter what, and I have to find that secret something that will help me look.
It seems so frustrating and ridiculous. A search for something that can never be found? A “hotter/colder” game where I continually get further from the goal? I grind my teeth no and then, in frustration.
Sometimes, though, there’s this magical click. I swear you can almost hear it. The end of the day comes, and your kid has been super-polite at dinner, or did all his chores with grace and humour, you’ve avoided the pop and somehow fit in an email, a resume and a show, and managed the blog as well. It clicks. It’s gone 30 seconds later, and you’re back hunting for the elusive right way that isn’t there – but for those 30 seconds, that click feels wonderful. I figure it’s God’s reward for the search, and I go back to looking.