Sunday, January 16, 2005

Parenthood and Children's Needs

My daughter is sick. She's been complaining of a sore throat, so I looked inside with a flashlight and found the surface of Titan: all strange white bumps on top of her inflamed, swollen tonsils.

At times like these I feel less concern than relief. I know how to parent during a crisis. I know who to call and how to research to find answers. I know where to get support and how to make my daughter feel better.

It's those times of wellness that my confidence in parenting is more elusive. She is well. She is developmentally at her milestones. She is fed. She has had a good night's sleep. Now what?

She needs me, she needs me so much. But without crisis, what do I have to give? She needs my imagination, my stories, my attention, my time. Somehow those always seem to be the things that are so hard to give. Need, crisis--these things help to organize our experience. When a child is in need, we know what to do.

The rest of the time, it always feels as if my needs and hers are in conflict. It's easy to subsume my needs when hers are so great. But when our needs are roughly equal, it becomes so much harder.

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