Parenting is hard, and I know this because I have great parents. I’ve seen my parents manage to have meat on the table despite struggling to make ends meet. I’ve seen them toil each day just to make my day. I’ve seen them wage battles between them and yet hide them all behind a smile when I enter the room. I’ve seen them go out of their way to keep me comfortable, to provide my needs, to ensure I have my wants, too—even if it put them in an awkward place. I’ve seen them debate over what’s good for me, what’s bad for me, what I should study, where and how I should go to school, how much allowance I’m allowed, how to deal with my adolescent questions, when to have the “alcohol is bad for you” talk. I’ve seen them dabbling in confusion about parenting, and I’ve seen them figure it out. I have great parents.
But they’ve made mistakes, too. It’s easy for me to point out how they should have raised me instead of how they did, but as a child, I’m biased. I’m always going to say that they should’ve let me stay out until 11 PM and let it go if I get home drunk. Not that I’m a “going-out” kind of person, but all children have their own ideas about parenting.
One of the things my mother didn’t do well, is handling my liberties. She forbade certain movies that, when I watched later in life, seemed like nothing to even bother about. She was always over conscious, over protective, over worried that violence in movies would poison my mind. Sometimes it made me hate her—sometimes, I’d wonder why she never trusted me to make the right choices, why she wouldn’t accept that I needed exposure to grow in society.
She always wanted to keep me away from danger—away from the evils of society, to protect me from harassment in public busses, to save me from being mugged in local trains, to help escape cheating boyfriends, to get me through life unscathed and unworried.
She is a great mother.
But I still worry that she’s made me too soft — meek and scared of the great wide world. If I don’t learn the harshness of life, how would I ever face life?
It’s something I think a lot about, something I never stop thinking about.
That’s why I could relate to this poem about parenting. I’m no parent, but as a child I agree with Frank O’Hara. And I think you would, too. Even if you don’t, give this poem a read—it’s got imagery worth your time.