Straight-A Adult?

I still get mad when I think about the lone B on my college transcript. It was a writing course, of all things, and there was a single comment about a short story in my final portfolio reading too much like an essay. Ten years later, and I’m still bitter.

I was a very good student. Even in the subjects I didn’t love or have an easy time with, I could pull off a good grade and I was usually got straight As.

When we’ve spent roughly 20 years of our lives studying, testing and being graded, what happens when we are suddenly out in the world without these very clear measures of ability, but still the need to learn and progress? Life tests us every day, but it’s not the kind of test you can cram for.

Sure, you can read a million books about anything: parenting, entrepreneurship, gardening, cooking, investing. And you can learn. But the fact of the matter is, no one is grading you. There is no A as reward for your diligent mental note-taking. In fact, the most constant judge in your life is yourself.

Parenting is opening my eyes to this fact (and the fact that perhaps I’ve been waiting for the report card from these last 8 years).

Yogurt Baby

Linden is by most measures an “easy baby.” But after sleeping through the night since less than a month old, she started waking, needing to eat, not wanting to go to sleep without us around the 4 month mark. Baby sleep can make a person crazy. I’ve read several books, blogs and articles, conducted at least a million late night google searches from the cold corner of my bed as I waited for Linden to wake yet again.

Her sleep issues began to shake my confidence in every aspect of my parenting. The easy, self-assured mommy attitude I’d had since her birth melted  into a puddle of constant worry, self-doubt, and anxiety about everything I was doing. And the frustration. Oh, the frustration. It takes a lot of effort not to throw the yogurt some days.

Studying up on baby sleep helped me form a plan, and the plan has helped me feel more confident in my approach. But it took a commenter’s remark on a blog post that there’s no A grade in parenting to fully appreciate the fact that there are no right answers. There’s no instructor, no test. I can’t just read the book and pass. But, this also means I can’t fail.

Sleeping Baby

In some ways, adulthood is harder for this. Life was less complicated when my job was to take notes and get an A. The weight of free will can feel like a burden, and sometimes we may weaken under the pressure we put in ourselves to be Amazing–our Ideal Self.

But in other ways, this reality is freeing. Because there is no RIGHT WAY, the possibilities are many. And the ability to grow into a unique person is profound. I can take all the advice I want on how to parent my child, but in the end, it’s how I read her, how I apply what I’ve learned, and what I value for our relationship that determines my approach. What grows out of that is something that no outside judgement can touch.

Have you faced a challenge that’s shaken your confidence? Are you still waiting for the report card?

P.S.: You may have gotten a glimpse into my writing process as I mistakenly published an earlier draft of this post. Sorry!

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3 responses to “Straight-A Adult?

  1. My husband and I were talking about this the other day! I was a straight A student too (and yes, still a bit bitter about those 1 or 2 B’s I got) and it’s hard not being graded as an adult. I’m starting to learn that because there is no “report card” anymore, it means I can manouevre my own course in life now. And while that is freeing, it can also be so daunting! ….I don’t know sometimes if my output is A material or F material, because I’m so used to other people (i.e. teachers) grading me! :0

    P.S. Linden is adorable!

  2. Most omportant rule: Don’t wake a sleeping baby. Second rule: sleep when baby sleeps. It gets more complicated with second baby.

  3. You can write , Jean. Good to get a new post from ye! Happy Summer, Ty breathing in , calm; breathing out, smiling,

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