Guest Blog Post: The MisEducation of Progress by Mykal White
As parents, you’d think we would learn from the past. By now, and with the billions of other parents who’ve gone through the business of raising children, you’d think we would be better able to recognize the writing on the wall – especially considering how long it’s been there.
In each of us, there continues to be this inherent need to prove ourselves as parents. Whether it’s rooted in the desire to shatter the legacy of whatever it was our own parents created for us, or it’s merely because we’ve become entangled with the pressures of “getting it right” – we only manage to continue this tradition. I wonder why it is that we still pass a torch when we live at the time of the light switch?
Parenting is a process designed to be about as perfect as life, itself. Our children don’t arrive into this world as blank pages of their own story, but as pages added to a book already incredibly thick with content. Planned or not, our lives as parents begin with the interruption of a life that was already in progress, a story still being written, and very much unfinished. Children find us at the place we are. They can only emerge from the influences of all that preceded them in the life that came before. And of course, every parent, is but a person and a winding road that would eventually lead them to that child.
And then we hold our baby in our arms for the very first time, and we are overcome with a deep ache to be everything for them, the constant best version of ourselves that till now, we haven’t quite figured out how to be. The Future. Potential. It’s all we can see. Almost immediately, we fixate on doing whatever we can to set them up to meet the promise of that future.
A large majority of my “friends” on Facebook are people with whom the bulk of my school years were spent from K-12. Today, many of them have children of their own. Few things amuse me as much as my Facebook thread. I see all the pictures and posts and can’t help but chuckle. They have become exactly the sort of grown up they swore they’d never be back in the days of their carefree youth. They are the parents we once felt so separate from, the doting parents we said we wouldn’t turn into.
And then there’s Technology.
We take advantage of social platforms in the glimpses we offer into the life we share with our children. Inviting our friends and family to the posts in reflection of the love and pride we feel for our growing babies, as the changes are all happening so fast. We can’t take enough pictures in a life so full of rich moments, and we quickly surround ourselves with images of the very moments that might have otherwise been missed completely. Thank you, camera phones! Thank you, luxury of convenience!
We’ve grown quite accustomed to experiencing what’s right in front of us through the screens of our devices. We’re so clever. So clever that we’ve managed to forget the value of the story living quietly in the photo’s backdrop. Instead, we have chosen to leave a legacy of childhood via Dropbox files our children will inherit. Snapshots, without the memories that bring them to life.
The saddest part, is in the crucial pieces being left behind for the sake of progress. We are revolving around a streamlined processes, this evolution of digital self. And for what? None of which will ever own the complexities of a human life.
Parenting is far too messy and unpredictable for technology to understand.
You’d think we would know better. You really would.
Once upon a time, we were little children under the impression our parents made on us. And now that we are adults, who should understand better than us, how this all works? EDUCATION. CAREER. MARRIAGE : Time eventually reveals these things to be the little man who was always hiding behind the curtain. They are only a small part of the quality of a person’s existence. We know this too. We live with its truth everyday.
At the end of the day, when it comes to our children and their future, the only part that will be ours to keep is the reality of whatever the years saw established between us and our kid. Everything else is important, and yet, nothing else can matter this much.
Mykal White is the mom of a 9 year old girl and lives on Long Island. She is the founder of PaperBanking.com, blogs, and is working on a book. You may subscribe to her blog. She is reachable at firstname.lastname@example.org and you can follow her on Twitter: @MykalWhite