FILED IN: Parenting

Sort of like the DIY Channel, but for Imperfect Parents.

My addiction started about a month before the birth of my oldest daughter – heavy with child and achy with sciatica – I was obsessed with do-it-yourself-type television, especially anything that had to do with everything…baby.

For me — nearly twelve years ago and before internet parenting community boards — it was television that closely emulated my reality and networks that catered their programming to those insomnia suffering, Charlie horse-ridden and graveyard shifters (a large number of which who, perhaps, happened to be way pregnant) like me.

And, for me, the guru of all things good and pre-natal would have been T. Berry Brazelton, M.D. and his Touchpoints (behavioral regression) approach to raising children.

To be honest, I have never actually read the whole book (my obsession for Stephen King being stronger and a little more familiar at the time) but I remember changing channels one night and staring at this man with the deeply furrowed smiling face filled with very large teeth — who was speaking in surprisingly hushed and very feminine-like tones — and I also remember thinking, “Oy…but he’s got an annoying voice…make it stop!”

Remember, I was pregnant and little things like that irritated me.

Instead, I lowered the volume, grabbed for a salty snack, settled in and watched this empathetic guide of desperate parents for while crying my eyes out for the next hour, or so, wondering “How am I ever going to survive this baby!?!?”

Who knew that four children later I’d still be wondering the same damned thing, over and over again?

Yet, surprisingly, I have survived…barely — and I’ve got plenty of stretch marks and gray hairs to prove it — but, in hindsight, I wish that I had read the book.

Which book?

You know…the book…the almighty compendium of the “how to” or “what not” sort of thingies that has all the right answers?!?! I bet it’s out there and I’ll double-down on that same bet that a well-known and very knowledgeable person holding a doctorate degree, not to mention harboring a few issues of his or her own, probably wrote it. Or, I missed the infomercial during a bathroom stop…or something.

Because, you know what?

I got plenty of behavioral regressions of my own I’d like to reach out and touch someone about…get the point!?!?

**heavy sighs followed by many itchy right-click fingers**

Okay, I’ll get to the point.

It’s like, I’ve got these four wonderfully funny, warm and totally smart kids hanging around — not mention listening to every word – and I can’t help feeling, like, I know that I’m going to totally screw it up.

Perhaps it’s because so much time has passed and my life has changed a great deal since those early baby days. Hell, I’ve changed (some for the better — I’m not a total loser, ‘kay) and the more I think about the future, the less I’m able to recognize what in the hell it is I want out of life.

Okay, you have my permission to click ahead and onto much funnier fodder.

**takes a sip of coffee and waits**

You still here?

Thanks, I truly do love you and believe that there is a shiny peaceful place in heaven….just for you.

HEAVEN!!!

Oh, yeah, now I remember where I was going with this!!!

So, not long ago, my parents called me shortly after eight o’clock in the morning and told me that they’re sixteen-year-old dog needed to be put down and that, and I quote, “The guy who does this sort of thing is not in today and we have to come back tomorrow.”

They didn’t know what to do and were just sitting there, in the parking lot, crying.

To make a long story short (I know, too late) they brought poor Jamie down to my house and — a couple of frantic phone calls later — my husband took my parents and Jamie to an animal hospital that deals with critical care emergencies.

To say, “That hot summer morning was brutal,” would be truly an understatement; since, not only were my parents heartbroken, they felt as if they needed to keep apologizing to me, as each of the kids kissed Jamie and said their goodbyes.

Brutal.

Oh, and the kids affirming, “I hate it when someone dies,” and “I hate my life,” as well as asking, “When are you going to die,” and “Why did you let them kill, Jamie?”

Wickedly brutal.

And as I sat there, totally depressed and viciously wiping at a constant flow of tears, I swear I heard Dr. Brazelton’s girlie voice say, “Don’t be an asshole,” and feeling as if I were given a virtual slap, I snapped into mommy-mode.

I listened to their thoughts, answered their questions the best I could and even dared to believe that perhaps I wasn’t such an asshole-type parent, after all.

Because I finally get it!

That — no matter how tired or down-hearted I get and all behavioral regression aside — there is no greater high than finally admitting that, “I am an imperfect parent!” and accepting those moments, when my children look to me for reassurance and comfort, as not only an absolution…but, just what the doctor ordered!

Later, my husband brought my parents back and, as my ten-year-old (and second oldest daughter) presented them with a picture of Jamie flying up to heaven (signed by all four of my kids) I offered them a fresh hot cup of coffee and reassured them, “You were great parents to Jamie, too.”

Thanks Jamie, for being such a good friend to all of us….for touching our lives….and for allowing me to carry the point, home.