Sunday, February 19, 2006

Compliments of fire.

I look after the kids and Sean has paid work. During my days I see a lot of other stay home parents, we talk shop a fair bit and they are the community from whom I get support and the impression I'm doing okay at this, the most personally involving work I'm ever likely to do. Sean tells me I'm doing a great job too.

I bask in these compliments when things are hairy, but the compliments on my child-rearing which are written in giant letters of fire are those of my childless friends and my parents.

It seems very odd to value the compliments of the childless over those who really know what's involved in work I do. I wonder whether it's the unexpected bonus aspect or the validation given to a choice that is making me less accessible for some years. On Christmas Eve Giles said "your children are pleasant company, more power to your parenting." I'm still smiling about that. Before we'd even got her home from the airport, Adele had watched me talking the kids into their car seats thrice and she said "you're very good at that". Which was simply wonderful to hear as I had been feeling parental embarrassment that they didn't just leap in like keen dogs.

Wanting my parents' approval is simpler to explain. Does one ever stop craving the approval of decent parents? Would a blanket one do? "You're lovely; your morals, priorities, abilities and achievements are all we were working toward when we procreated and your choices and actions make us proud."

My father said to his mother shortly before she died in October 2004: "Two of your lovely great granddaughters are here to see you; Susy's doing a great job, we're very proud of her". That was a very fine thing to hear. Maybe parental approval is addictive and yet harder and harder to get in so many words as we get older, because praise really only counts for things we believe a) praiseworthy and b) within the scope of judgement of the praiser.


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