While reading about past adventures of the Used Diaper Salesman, you may have wondered, "Who does this guy think he is, some parenting expert? And where did he get such a cracked sense of humor?" The answers are "No way." and "I have no idea." Ninety-eight percent of what you read here is just me having some fun while trying to figure out this whole parenting thing, and I'm just happy to have you along for the ride. I don't pretend to know any more than you about parenting and marriage, and whether or not I turn out to be any good at those things remains to be seen, but I'm happy to say that I have some excellent role models for both. Thanks, dad and mom.
Parenting is like going to school all over again, but without a textbook which holds all the answers, and when you take the tests, about half of the questions weren't on the homework. I'm learning more all the time about what it takes to raise average kids with the hope that they'll grow into exceptional adults, and the more I learn, the more my appreciation for my own parents grows. I'm a relative rookie to the parenting game, but through my limited schooling on the job, I've gained a bit of perspective on what it took to raise a wiseguy like me. The levels of sheer personal sacrifice and Tums consumption must have been staggering.
Retrospective self-examination, anyone? I don't think I was an unusually difficult kid, but looking back, I can see hundreds of things I did or didn't do that made my parents' job a little harder. I won't bore you with details, but upon further review, just about all of them can be filed under the category of "What the heck was I thinking?". Normal growing pains for me, but probably quite trying for my parents, who only wanted to see me succeed and live to see adulthood.
At any of those moments, mom and dad could have thrown up their hands and given up on teaching me the finer points of how the world works, but to their credit, they just took a deep breath, popped a few more Tums, and stuck with it. They'll be the first to admit they weren't perfect, but they did their best, and as far as I'm concerned, they did a great job. They also prayed for me many times daily, and still do. I plan on doing the same for my own kids for the rest of my life, since I'll eventually see them behind the wheel of a car, and only God can protect an invincible seventeen-year-old with a driver's license.
Even if you don't see your parents as the best role models, I'd be willing to bet you could still think of a number of things you learned from them, whether they're things you want to emulate or things that have made you realize what you don't want for your own kids. Either way, they've helped make you who you are, and by extension, the parent you are. The hard part? What you do with what you've learned from them is up to you.
For my part, I'll send out a big "thank you!" to my parents, the original Used Diaper Salespeople, and do my best to carry on the family business. It's a hard job, but somebody's gotta do it.