I long ago reconciled myself to the “good enough” parenting philosophy. Perfection is unattainable, and really not even preferable. What child needs to grow up with that kind of standard? We learn more from adversity than from perfection, in my imperfect opinion. Once in a while I can even forgive myself that my children spent years in a divided home. I think the fact of divorced parents and a gay mother made Emma stronger, more resilient, and more accepting of different ways of being in the world early on; but it fell hard on at-the-time teenaged Nicholas, a residual sadness that has influenced our adult relationship. I hope someday we can talk about it; but like me, he finds deep soul conversation difficult. We both avoid it, sticking to solo dancing.
I have taken a break from Mama this week to visit Nicholas and his family, including my two grandsons, in the North Carolina mountains―my second favorite place on the planet. When I sit back and observe Nicholas in the dance he and Kristy engage in as they care for their household, I know that in spite of it all, my children’s dad and I were good parents and good role models. He is at ease with parenting 10-month-old Ethan and six-year-old Max: feeding, changing diapers, pitching a baseball. He assumes kitchen duties without being cajoled. He is an excellent cook and he uses his skills regularly. He sees what needs to be done and does it.
It is an evolution from what he saw as a child: his father was willing, but crossing traditional roles was not assumed, at least until he was defaulted into it following the end of our marriage. I asked for “help” or “child care” and he obliged and did it well. The dance in our family was less fluid; more like a jitterbug than a ballet. But my children’s father showed up at the ball, which was not the model in his family of origin and even less so in mine.
I’m proud of Nicholas. He had good enough dance instructors, and he took what he learned and taught himself some new steps. Now I have graduated to spectator on my son’s dance floor and I like what I see. Next week I will return to my own dance with Mama. I need to teach myself some new moves.