Parenting: When Do I Get My Grades?

Mar 7 2013


I’m doing a terrible job as a mother. Just a terrible, horrible job. Making all the wrong choices and messing up my children far more than I intended.

Or I’m doing a brilliant job. It’s hard to tell.

The trouble with parenting is no score card. No grades. No assessments or evaluations or reviews. No hard data to tell us how well we’re doing. Nothing except our brains and our hearts which often give conflicting reports.

I used to think we’d get our results someday. Someday, when our kids turn out great or fine or weird or totally effed up, we’d know whether we did well or failed or sort of passed but only with a D+ so we can’t go on to Advanced Parenting thank God because the lessons are cumulative and we barely survived Beginning Parenting anyway.

But then I thought, when’s someday? When is the someday that assessments arrive in the mail? Because I am 39 and, if assessments were already sent to my parents, they are completely screwed, you know? Because I know what their report says. It reads, “Your daughter is great and fine and weird and totally effed up, usually every minute.” Which feels inconclusive. Inconclusive but normal, I think, like their report card should read, “Congratulations! You raised a human being.”

And so here we are, in the middle of the parenting game, without a good way to measure our success or our failure or our particular ratio of both. Except that is a measure of success, isn’t it? The fact that we are, for better or worse, in the middle of this parenting game. We’re here, suspended, running in the air by choice, feet flailing, arms askew, without the hope of certainty. And we’re here because it’s the right place to be.


 Yes and No Sign image credit digitalart at