So, my 31 days of No Criticizing is pretty much done.
If I can say that they ever started.
More things I’ve learned, some of which I already knew at other times:
1. I am an improver by nature. I am always looking for ways that things can be better. This, I think, is a good trait. It is, however, a hard trait in a parent.
2. Love covers all. At least I hope it does, or most of us are in big trouble. I screw up constantly, but I try very hard to own up to my mistakes, and I tell my kids I love them all the time. My love vocabulary could probably be larger, especially the nonverbal part — but there, see, there is the improver! She is always busy.
3. I hate making mistakes and doing things wrong. Just today I found an old piece of my writing in its copyedited, published form. I had not looked at it after sending it out into the world. It had a couple of substantial changes, and I spent an embarrassing amount of time thinking about the reasons for the changes, comparing my original to the published version to find more changes, and generally fretting about how my piece had obviously been inadequate. Without getting into detail, all evidence indicates that this particular client was been extremely happy with my work, and I’m aware that copyeditors and proofers are not always good at what they do. Still I spent a while feeling very embarrassed about “screwing up” this ancient essay. I had to make a very conscious effort to shush the perfectionist in me and let it go.
It is a dirty, open secret of parenting that we judge ourselves by our offspring, whether we should or not, whether it is healthy for anyone or not. It happens, unless- and sometimes even if–we intentionally stop ourselves. There are certain behaviors my children do that scream out “bad parent” to me — and if I cannot shush the perfectionist I go after the children instead.
4. Children are sometimes intentionally provocative. Even good parents are sometimes going to slip up and allow themselves to get provoked and lose it. This is to be expected in life, kind of like gas or diarrhea, and with comparable moral weight.
5. Child-rearing is almost always really parent-rearing. Or so it seems to me. Another way to say this is that 90% of parenting is learning to keep your mouth shut.
And on another note, here is a view up the beach from our Mexican vacation home:
And here is the view from the terrace, looking slightly south:
It would be impossible to overstate how much I love looking at the ocean.