Parenting is full of inherent contradictions which I believe are specifically designed to keep us from ever feeling completely competent in what we are doing. Consider, for example, the following:
We get excited over every milestone, calling friends and family (and posting to blogs) as each one is reached. She smiled! She rolled over! She's playing peek-a-boo! Then they grow up and we can only thing about how we miss them as little helpless blobs dependent fully on us.
When the children are having a little too much fun, what does any good parent do? Send them outside or ask them to be quiet of course. Excited children do not make indoor noises. But when they comply and the house becomes eerily still, our suspicions are immediately aroused. Because mischievous children make no noises.
Then there is the blatant disrespect for all rules that somehow goes completely unpunished, because, well, how can you? Sure my son is not allowed to play with the scissors without supervision. Nor is he allowed to scale the bookshelf to get to where they are kept. Nor is he allowed to pull out a stack of school paper to cut to smithereens. He knows these things. He really does. But when the evidence is presented to you in an envelope with a hug and kiss as a get-well card because you are feeling sick, what option do you have but to say thank you?
Then there is the baby. She is sick. She has a croupy cough that sounds awful. And at night, her breathing is labored. She sounds as if she is struggling to draw breath. So I lay awake, listening to her to make sure that she draws that next breath. I drift in and out of a restless sleep, continually aware of that raspy noise. Then at 3:00AM I am jerked suddenly awake by silence. She is fine. In fact, she is resting peacefully and is no longer having any trouble breathing. But since I cannot hear her, I get absolutely no sleep. Instead I just stare at her, watching her chest rise and fall to make sure she is still breathing.
They are conspiring against my sanity.