This archived article was written by: Nathaniel Woodward
Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you are the resident expert, the only person who can make the decision and provide solutions to any number of problems? I recently found myself in just such a predicament where I came to the gut-wrenching realization that I was overwhelmingly unqualified for the task at hand, parenthood. I have three children, that’s not much of an accomplishment in itself, they’re not terribly difficult to make, however, getting them from birth to adulthood physically intact and emotionally stable is another issue entirely.
There’s no book on this, well no book worth reading, if my kids are each this different from one another, I can only imagine how different they are from other children. This month I had the responsibility of watching my oldest offspring while my wife took the other nursling off to Michigan to see her family. Now, I’ve been at this parenting business for a while now, but if I’ve learned anything over the years, it’s that life takes you by surprise, normally by a huge gut-check into the boards when you least expect it.
I’ve never felt terribly old, but at times, I find myself shocked at just how “adult” I am. Once a week my daughter has a gymnastics class in the morning which, due to my graveyard work schedule, I am normally asleep, but with my marital consort absent, the task fell to me. No stranger to leotards and tutu’s (not like that, I have five sisters), I was able to navigate the proper trousseau with little to no stress and getting to the class on time proved no more onerous. I had this in the bag. Once my daughter was on the floor going about her various flips, flops, cartwheels and face plants, I caught a reflection of myself across the hall which hit me like a ton of lead bricks.
I remember being her age, I remember the fun of athletics and particularly the stress of them. I come from a family of athletes, my paternal grandfather Jackie “Jack” Woodward was a standout athlete both in high school and college at Utah State University. My father Wayne was also a multi-sport athlete at both levels which really put the pressure on me.
At any given Junior Jazz or little league game, my grandpa and dad could be found in their normal spots, standing against a wall or fence, arms crossed and staring intently at every move I was making. Twenty-five years later as I caught my reflection I saw them, in myself. Never had I felt so inadequate or unqualified. Who the heck was I? What test did I ace or degree did I earn that qualified me for such an awesome responsibility as being a parent?
I later asked my dad if he felt this insecure at my age, a question he smartly stepped around. I remember being on the floor, playing basketball or whatever sport and seeing him standing there, arms folded, full of confidence and wisdom. Is this how my kids see me? If so I’m in a heap of trouble because last time I checked, I didn’t take my parenting licensing exam. All I can do is try to live up to the men I thought they were at that age and keep up the charade that makes my children assume I know what the heck I’m doing. What’s another 18 years?