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The Big Dipper, Dr. Spock and a Bout of Doubt

This week has been a convergence of situations, salient points and sage advice, and each bright star – seen in retrospect – is getting close to coming together to reveal a point of clarity at the site of the “big dipper” in the sky.

On a cloudy day, the big dipper is hard to see, yet when each star shines bright enough, we look up and celebrate that the stars are shining bright enough to form a shape that leads to other shapes and constellation “awe-ing”.

This also can be an analogy for parenthood. In the ZagZig of everyday parenthood, things happen; sometime good and happy, sometimes challenging, demanding and at times, darn right perplexing. At times we see clearly and at times there is a lot of fog in the way, until the clouds break and then it all seems so… clear. That was my week.

On Saturday, I attended the Wholly Loved Women’s Conference, and this question has stuck with me through the week and is even fresh on my mind today: “What label(s) have you allowed to scream louder than God’s voice?” Whether you are faith-based or not, the message is that we allow these negative voices to creep in and take over. For me, it is that I am not enough, so I keep working hard at it…. whatever it is.

Each of the four kids this week had something that made me pause as a parent – have I done enough? Are they prepared enough? Number 1, who lives three states away, texted about managing a challenging adult in her life. Number 3 was not feeling well, but I encouraged him to go to school so that he would not fall behind on his grueling schedule. Number 4 had back-to-back events over the weekend and when he was on the edge of laryngitis, I made him drink tea and truth be told, I would have been ok with no talking for a while after he complained about having no free time. Number 2, on the other hand, celebrated a two-decade birthday and I thought where has the time gone, and have I done enough for her?

On Thursday, I took a phone call and during this delightful conversation about life, honing the core message, finding the silver bullet, the person on the other end reminded me of wisdom I had forgotten somewhere along the way in my pity party of not being enough. The person reminded me of the wisdom of Dr. Spock, the famous baby-whisperer of the 1960’s and well beyond, best known for his book, Dr. Spock’s Baby and Child Care.

My mom read Dr. Spock’s book, and as a child I have vivid memories of her soft copy, the pages so worn from re-reading, the tagged corners and a cover that has been through a few rounds of high pressure hugs during challenging moments.

One of Spock’s sage advice moments was to "trust you." He said, “Bringing up your child won't be a complicated job if you take it easy, trust your own instincts, and share concerns with your friends, family, and doctor or nurse practitioner. We know for a fact that the natural loving care that kindly parents give their children is a hundred times more important than their knowing how to make a diaper fit tight or just when to introduce solid foods.

After I hung up the phone, I paused to reflect on that advice, and in an instant the week’s moments came back to me. I had allowed some self-imposing “untrusting labels” to scream loudly, especially as I worked with each one of the kids and got caught in their moments. And, while I am well past diapers and introducing solid foods, I let their growth moments become my worries that made the voices of doubt scream even louder. In an instant, the week came full circle and I could see clearly.

Then, from the vantage point of seeing the big dipper, I reflected on the events in Las Vegas on Monday and the tragic deaths of nearly 60 people who are parents, children, siblings and friends. The circumstances behind the event are appalling and unclear, and the consequences are heartbreaking. Our hearts and prayers go to those families.

In retrospect, I am enough for me and for my family. My personal pity has temporarily gone away with the clouds, but my heart is heavy as we grapple with big issues that are beyond our control and have to ZagZig to make sense of it all.

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