How Did I Do?: Reflections on parenting as my son leaves the nest

373804_294922787198631_711630545_nThis is our 100th Blog post.  In the 99 posts that preceded this one we’ve learned about developing a child’s creative confidence, tips on fathering, more inventive ways to play with our kids and make them healthier, and we’ve considered the challenges and opportunities facing parents in a fast changing world.

As I consider what topic would be worthy of our hundredth post, my mind wanders to my own son who is soon to leave home for college. As he waits for word on his applications I wonder, with some anxiety, whether he’ll get into the school of his choice. Whether he’ll thrive at college, stick it out, graduate, and then build a career, find a partner and grow up to be the man we believe he has the potential to be.

The thousands of decisions my husband and I have made as parents that have led up to this moment come back to me now: where we decided to live and work, how we’ve supported him in school, in sports and in making friends; how much TV, what foods, what parties, how to teach him respect and generosity, and how to protect him from bullying, from trouble, from pain and danger.

I’m left with the question that overshadows all others, “How did I do as a mother?” And in the asking, there’s a pang of uncertainty. For all the many books, lectures, TV talk show experts and manuals, in the end, we have to parent our children every day ourselves. We make countless daily decisions in the absence of advice and counsel. We have to trust our gut in the moment and hope that because of or despite our fears, our blunders and our best efforts, our sons and daughters will follow a path toward a healthy and fulfilling adulthood, a path that is not only of our making but of their own. And, as adults, we know their path will be a long one, full of twists and turns, just as ours has been.

Here at Boston Children’s Museum we talk a lot about empowering parents to confidently take up their role as their child’s first teacher, their playmate, and their coach. Through our blog, our Lunch and Learn speaker series, our many cultural festivals, our days of celebration like Happy Noon Year, and our many learning resources and play activities, we hope we can be a place of fun, learning and happy memories, and a help to parents during their challenging child-rearing journey. We know that our museum, along with other cultural institutions, can help children develop literacy and social skills, introduce them to knew ideas and open their eyes to the world around them; all skills that we hope will lead to a fulfilling adulthood. Just as we ask how are we doing as parents, we also ask ourselves daily, how are do we doing as a museum?

It is my hope that our blog postings, along with the museum’s many efforts can help us all to become more confident parents. So, although we may not know, “how we did” for many years to come, we can be satisfied that our love and our genuine effort at doing our best was good enough.

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