Before the news about Bill Cosby surfaced and broke my heart, to me, he was a parenting rockstar. He was the one who made us laugh and feel that this whole parenthood thing wouldn't be so bad after all.
My first labor was induced, so we had time to kill while we waited for the Pitocin to kick in. What did we do? Being stand up comedy lovers and children of the '90s, we watched Bill Cosby do stand up on a laptop in the hospital room. He was funny, he was sentimental, he joked about kids and sang, "Dad is great! He's giving us the chocolate cake!" We laughed and relaxed, feeling that this parenthood thing was gonna be alright.
That was then, this is now.
I remember when my 7-year-old said, "I believe in Santa Claus. I pretty much believe in everything."
Those were the days, huh? I remember when those were my sentiments exactly. Santa, Bill Cosby; not much to debate, distrust, or worry about. It was what it was, and what it was was all good. Bill Cosby is off my list now. So is Santa. So are many others I used to trust and look up to.
The journey of life is filled with disillusionment, reality checks that make us question, retract our trust and move on.
It starts with Santa, then its a parent, eventually its Bill Cosby...
My boy still "pretty much believes in everything," but they'll come a day when he pretty much questions everything. He'll find out that grandpa and grandma are divorced and will question if love will last for him. He'll find out that his friend doesn't believe in God and question why he does. He'll find out that we won't always understand him and he'll question our decisions.
What am I going to do about it?
Let him walk just because the world (read I'm) not perfect? Nope. What I've learned is that disillusionment is part of the journey. A healthy part, actually, and I'm going to make sure he sees that by showing him what empathy and what compassion looks like.
I'm going to teach him what I learned, that disillusionment is just like the word says -- it's removing the illusion. For better or for worse, it's coming to know a person in their entirety. It's what helps to understand them and, eventually, to forgive them.
My parents divorced when I was in high school and I didn't see my father until years later. It was a defining moment in our relationship when we met again. I was able to see him in a new light, expectations off, fully human, flawed, interesting and in many ways, like me. I could see that he wasn't going to be a typical dad, because he just wasn't wired that way. The illusion was off, but through that I could see the good that was there too. He was a brilliant mind, well-traveled, interesting and off-beat. I had to be disillusioned before I could have a real relationship with him.
Same goes for Santa, I guess.
We need to find out that the magic of Christmas is something we all contribute to through generosity and caring, and we need to find that out by realizing that it's not one person doing it all every year.
On one hand it's sad, but on the other its freeing, because no one is perfect and once we let that expectation go, we can feel more comfortable and forgiven of our own imperfections. (Unless of course you are Bill Cosby, but that's another story...)
I'm going to parent through disillusionment by teaching him the phrase, "Everyone has room to grow," and then show him that by being forgiving when he falls short of my own illusions, keeping my critique to myself, helping him to feel he has the space he needs to grow and that I trust who he will become.
We're not all there yet, even as adults we have parts of ourselves we hide.
But if we let go of the illusion and give value to the good that's still within, we'll be ok...and so will our kids.
This article appeared on Win the Kids | A Marketing Mom's Solution to Parenting
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