2. a : free from pretense or deceit : frank
b : easily detected or seen through : obvious
c : readily understood
My last post was a bit of a stretch for me. I felt the need to write it, but knew even before I did so that it was likely to garner some discussion. How our children interact with technology is, I believe, a key parenting challenge for my generation. I think we'll all be better off if we'll share our successes - and failures - openly so that others can learn from them. But this level of transparency takes a bit of work on my part. And it sometimes leaves me feeling a bit bruised. Luckily, I recently had an acquaintance who is pregnant with her second child say that my blog encourages her because she sees how hard I try as a parent and that my children still make mistakes. Well, yes, they do. I do, too.
I feel it's so important to be frank, honest and open about parenting - and life - because if we all walk around pretending we have it all together, everyone ends up miserable. Miserable because even if we're excellent actresses when we're with others, we know how often, how deeply, how tremendously we fail. The internal dialogue says that if no one else is failing I must be the only one.
How can we change that? By being real. By admitting the failures as readily as we offer the successes. By not allowing shame to push our parenting missteps to the depths of our minds, where they stay hidden, but fester in our memories, looming larger and larger.
I don't want to intimate that parenting is all doom and gloom. It's not. I considered writing this post on LEARNING and how I am seeing it every day in each of my girls right now - in a metaphor A created about Martin Luther (his ideas were lightning bolts), in a paper K wrote on what she would do if she were President (take care of her country), in a book by B about her favorite food (tomato tart, of course). But my camera is broken (thanks to my imperfect 11 year old), so I have no visuals to go along with these lovely examples of learning. It doesn't mean they aren't happening, just that I can't properly document them.
Living transparently means sharing the good and the bad.
One of the challenges with choosing to live as transparently as possible is that people can really see me for who I am. While this brings its fair share of blessings, it means that others are free to judge me when they don't like what they see. Is it paradoxical to hope that I can both live transparently (easily seen through) and have a thick skin?
Someone asked me yesterday what my biggest fear was about A's recent online behavior. It's that her actions were prompted by loneliness. A's been honest with me that she's been lonely this year. I anticipate that will ease next year with her sister at home for school as well, but that will bring its own challenges. I want to talk with A about loneliness - how much she is feeling it, what she's doing with those feelings, what choices she can make. Because she does have a choice in her loneliness - she can choose specific ways to combat it and she can, if necessary, accept this as a part of her current journey. I have found that a depth of relationship combats loneliness far better for me than a breadth of relationship. An hour of conversation free from pretense does more to fill my emotional tank than three hours of small talk. I suspect this may be true for A as well and I need to keep that in mind as I parent my girls. If I feel better when I can really be myself around someone, I think it's safe to assume the same is true for them. I want them to have the freedom, the comfort, the safety to be completely transparent here in our home and in our family.
This doesn't mean they will share their every thought with me - we're nearing the time when that will not only be less likely, but less beneficial as they prepare for life on their own - but that they can authentically be who they are - without pretense, without deceit, without hiding. So that they can be more fully understood.