the time in between bath and bed, and the ROI of parenting

February 06, 2017 Candace Morris 0 Comments

Bear with me here, I have like 20 minutes to write this (but it's a new practice in unfiltered writing).

Joel gives Bowie her baths, as part of our carefully constructed and always tenuous "share the work" agreement. In a not too uncommon, unplanned twist of events, I supervised the child bath. I usually distract myself by cleaning the sink, scrubbing my makeup brushes, or playing with how to create a cut crease on a hooded eye.

If I don't occupy myself with these things, I'll reach for my phone - which I do try to avoid. I hate the idea of a picture Bowie's forming in her head of her mother with a device always in front of her face, but it is what it is. I'm over judging myself for it...which is entirely different than giving up the fight. But that's a different blog.

Tonight, she caught my attention because, in the interim between the last bath I supervised and tonight's bath...a few weeks, a month maybe?...she could completely submerge her head in the water and hold her breath for five seconds.

It shocked me because, just this last summer, she would barely even put her face in the water, much less have the skill and agency to do it herself.



And in the 'in between' time of the evening (the time where Joel is reading Bowie stories and I am just finishing up the dishes, lighting the twilight candles, and pouring myself another glass) all my thoughts from the day come rushing at me. Today, one of those thoughts swimming in the sea of political murk and hope was the ROI of parenting.

For those of you lucky people who have never worked in a corporate setting, ROI means return on investment...the reward, the sign that all the rigor you put forward and risk you took in the beginning of your endeavor is starting to pay off, and your back to making money instead of shelling it out. (Disclaimer: this may be a reductive definition, I sure as hell am not spend my in between time opening up a tab and looking up ROI on Wikipedia...I do that shit all day long for real work).

The ROI of parenting...

Bowie's drawing after watching the Women's March on Washington.


It's odd how good I felt about Bowie dunking her head in the bath water, like the super smug kind of good. Yep, I am shelling out money and time for swim lessons because someone told me that responsible, healthy, enlightened parents teach their kids how to swim...and here I am seeing a total return on that.

She's making tangible, provable progress toward a goal of becoming another amphibious human.

It's working! I am winning at parenting. She won't drown!

It felt especially good because she drove me crazy today - we've hit the sassy phase, plus she's playing with all kinds of learned helplessness that triggers me. Today of all days, I was grasping for ways my parenting is "working." The swimming thing felt good. Was there more ways I was winning?

And then I stopped short at that cold question. Was I really looking for an ROI on something as unquantifiable as a relationship between mother and child?

Damn you, age of reason! (FIST)
And oh thank you, age of reason. (SIGH). But that's a different blog.

There is very little data or feedback in parenting. And in a society that...I'll let a friend explain it:

...ours is a society that honors and celebrates the mind {the masculine, intellect, drive, mental toughness, and so on}, but neglects and, often times, rejects the sweet balance that the heart provides {the feminine, empathy, compassion, strength through vulnerability, introspection, creativity, and so on}."

Yeah, in that kind of society - I have to remember to invite the feminine voice along too. To ask my heart what it thinks of my parenting, too...since it has such a different set of data points. 

Bowie's not going to give me proof because she's not an experiment. She's not here to teach me how to be a better parent or help me undo the damage done to me. That's my job. 

She's not here for any other purpose than to live out her soul's work. I hope to be one of the people clearing the runway for her to do it. 




You Might Also Like

0 comments: