Stating the obvious right? But sometimes, I feel like we expect things to be easy, or easier. But truth is, they’re not. And we get tied up in this downward cycle of being frustrated that it’s not easier to parent our own children, and thoughts of “they’d be better off without us” get thrown in, and before we know it, we’re crumpled on the bathroom floor with our heads in our hands, tears streaming down our face, wondering how to face it all. The truth is, parenting is hard. The truth is, you can’t be perfect. BUT, the truth is, you can do your best, and that’s all you can expect.
Just yesterday, I woke up in a grumpy mood. (It’s pretty common for me. I’m not a morning person.) I proceeded to trudge through my morning chores, shuffling out to the kitchen to make sure the corn puffs didn’t end up all over the floor, or that the honey didn’t flow too freely. All four of my children were up and sitting at our bar, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, as the saying goes. They began their usual routine of bickering/saying many repetitive phrases over and over again/poking each other/getting in each other’s personal space/arguing. You know how it goes… I reacted with anger. Barking at them to be nice, to be quiet, to leave each other alone. My voice getting louder with each warning. At one point I realized I was yelling, and then I told Drew to “shut up.” I hate that phrase: “shut up.” In my mind, it’s not okay for me to say that to my kids. I’d just crossed one of my own boundaries. I felt like poo, and I was still grumpy. I figured Kevin had probably heard me from the other room and was stewing about it himself as well.
Then Kevin and I drove the boys to school together, and other conflicts ensued. Kevin lashed out because he was already angry at me for yelling at the kids. I gave him the silent treatment and resolved to get out of house. We ended up in the bathroom together, waves of irritation rolling off of each other so thick you could almost touch them. Finally, Kevin says we need to talk about this before I leave. Since this is kind of our policy, to talk things out, especially when we are angry with each other, and because I knew we needed to, I stayed in the bathroom and began that painful dance we call communication.
And I ended up sitting on our closed toilet, head in hands, tears streaming down face. Uncontrollable emotion because I’m thinking that I’m just not capable of being a good mom to my kids. Maybe somebody else really can do a better job than me. Maybe my kids would be better off if I wasn’t around.
But you know what? Those are lies. No one is more capable of being a better parent to my kids than I am, and my kids would be shattered if I wasn’t around. The fact of the matter is, parenting is hard.
It’s not exactly something that you want to remind yourself of each day, but I think it needs to be remembered often, if only to help a parent be fully prepared for the task at hand. Raising this child (these children) isn’t going to be easy. It’s going to require loads of your time, all of your thought, all of your Intention and Attention. It’s going to be physically draining. You’re going to get sick, and they will get sick. You are going to be tired and irritated. You are going to make mistakes… And your children will survive.
If you consider yourself well-adjusted, (I do. Most days.) If you consider yourself a success, (I do. Most days.) If you consider yourself loved, (I do. Every day.) Then, you have a parent (or parents) to thank.
The fact of the matter is, when I look back at my childhood, I see mostly good days. I had a great childhood. I knew my parents loved me. I knew they were doing their best to raise me. In fact, I think they did a pretty darn good job, and I am thankful for the sacrifices and the effort they put into raising me. But you know what? They weren’t perfect. They made mistakes, and I am ok.
I’m tired of analyzing all the up and downs of my childhood and how my parents raised me, and how my husband’s parents raised him, and how my parent’s parents raised them. I’m tired of worrying about screwing up my children if I don’t do every little thing just right. (And, what is “right” anyway?) That is an unbearable weight to live under. It gets in the way of the real day-to-day and moment-to-moment parenting that needs to happen. I become paralyzed by worrying about making some mistake that will affect my kids and cause them to be unhappy later on in life, and thereby make the bigger mistake of taking no action at all. The fact is, that none of us are perfect parents. That is an unattainable thing. The only thing we can do is our Best. And when we make a mistake (because we will), we set it right.
And so. I resolve to remember that parenting is hard. That I do have what it takes to be the best possible parent for my kids. That they are better off with me. That I’m not going to be perfect. That my parents did a good job raising me, and I am thankful to them. That I can correct my mistakes, and apologize and make things right with my children. That I love them and they love me, and I can do this.