Whenever I try to navigate the parenting landscape, I'm struck by the need to define the indefinable. Attachment parenting, helicopter parenting, laissez-faire, retro, instinctive parenting, passive parenting, authoritative parenting: at some point, so far, I've defined my self as each of them. But there is not a single one I could pick to define our parenting choices throughout. Because, like most parents, we are of the "make the best decision we can, with the knowledge and resources we have at the time" school. Our family unit model has changed, growing over six years to include one, two, then three children. We have had combinations of full-time working mum, stay-at-home-dad, part-time working mum, full-time working dad, stay-at-home-mum, with spatterings of formalised long day care, before and after school care and grandparent and uncle care.
Today, I am letting go of the desire to define myself as a 'type' of parent. Because that inherently leans towards placing value on one type over another. It has taken me some time to accept the ebbs and flows of the beach conditions, and know that every circumstance is in some way ideal; not just the sweet, sunny days. Rugging up in warm clothes and meandering around the rocks on a windy day gives us an opportunity to see things in a different way. I never expected our circumstances to involve an extended period of full-time leave from work, but I am very grateful for the time and the lessons I have received in that time.
This parenting work is truly a task of building the plane mid-flight. Children are growing, their needs are constantly changing. Adults are evolving constantly, too. Circumstances around finances and values (and how to align the two) are always shifting, and vary wildly between families. From now on, I will stop working so hard to label what I do (and what you do, too) as a parent, and work to enjoy the connection and the ride.