Parenting can be a like a puzzle with one piece that is eternally missing. But every day, I add another piece that makes the task a little less daunting.
Think of it like car maintenance. It’s a giant machine that should work. Should. But sometimes, it stops and you don’t know why. There are so many parts and pieces that it’s hard to know where to look first. So I came at it the same way I came at parenting, one piece at a time.
When I wanted to learn how to change a tire, I figured out just that and nothing else. I didn’t worry about the engine, the air conditioner, or the radio. I focused on learning what it took to lift that car up and change out the tire. Once I learned that, and only that, I had a piece of a puzzle.
Another time, I was feeling a little more ambitious and taught myself how to change the oil. I learned that I’ll never do it again, not when there’s a Pep Boys down the street that does it for the same price and half the effort. However, I walked away with another piece of that puzzle.
Every time I learn how to complete a specific task, I’m adding a piece to the giant puzzle called, “How To Fix A Car”. Taking out the radio in Bex’s car, another piece. Adding coolant to my car, another puzzle piece. Pretty soon, I had enough pieces to put that puzzle together and car maintenance didn’t seem so overwhelming anymore.
Like I said before, Parenting is a lot like that. At the beginning, I had no idea what I was doing. Then I figured out how to change a diaper. Then I learned how to make a bottle. Pretty soon, I was working on advanced ninja-level skills like laying the sleeping Boy Wonder down in his crib without waking him up.
I’ll never consider myself an expert and the The “How To Be A Good Dad” puzzle is far from complete. But these days, I don’t go to DEFCON 1 every time he cries. I know what to listen and look for and how to react. Dare I say, I’m feeling more confident in my Dadbilities?
Of course that’s when he’ll turn into a toddler, then a teenager, and smash my precious puzzle to pieces without remorse. Then I’ll have to start this thing all over again.
Will someone remind me to ask my mom if she ever felt like she had the puzzle all figured out? My guess is that there was always one piece that she couldn’t seem to find.