Out of all the weeks I’m “getting real” about this year, this one might be the hardest. Why? BECAUSE PARENTING IS THE HARDEST JOB IN THE WORLD. I know we all know that, but because we don’t get a degree for it and *some* of us didn’t take family and consumer sciences in high school, the whole parenting thing can feel surreal. I’m supposed to do what? For how many years? Bathe? Feed? Counsel? Console? Teach? Whaaaaa???
Or maybe it’s just me.
I’ve written a lot – in reality and my fiction – about my own parental issues (quick synops: raised by my paternal grandparents and was estranged from my biological mother for twenty years and then on again for about four and then off again for going on seven years.) So, hey, if you’re raising your kid and doing the best you can, give yourself a pat on the back because you are sticking with it.
Of course doing the bare minimum simply isn’t enough because a) we want to be super parents and b) society is very judgy-judgy no matter what decisions we make so it’s easy to think we’re always failing. Also, it feels incredibly easy to screw our kids up.
So let me get right to the point with MY biggest parenting fails, past and present.
1. Not giving the kids my full attention. Whether I’m on my phone or in la-la land where my brain can typically be found, I’m not in the present moment and that’s a daily struggle and one I hope to get better. But, let’s face it. This will always be my cross to bear.
2. Letting them eat junk food. Even though I’m on a relative health kick, I still let the kids eat too much sugar. Think about it: sugar is practically in EVERYTHING. While I *want* to be a super freak about nutrition, I do let them get sodas on occasion and our pantry is always stocked with Cheez Its. Today I even bought my teen daughter a Happy Meal after school.
3. Going too easy on them. I’m pretty sure I could be stricter both in length and severity of punishments. I love when they try to negotiate with me on anything (I think it’s a critical life skill) but honestly I could just be being lazy and/or soft. Yet I always swear I’ll be tougher next time. I could also push them harder – in everything – their clubs, leadership, getting a job, and so on. But I don’t. I give them a talk – sometimes stern, sometimes peppy – and then see how things roll.
4. Harming themselves right under my nose. Think it matters that you’re RIGHT there with your kid all the time? Let’s see, my kids have had so many bruises and falls right in front of my eyes from when they were toddlers and would miss the pillow and hit the bricks or tripping on the pavement as I held their hand, or all the times I used to bonk their heads into the door frames when I held them. I also likely was there when they rolled off a bed or a changing table and they probably also slipped under the water in the tub while my hand was around their slippery arm. While I do make my youngest where his helmet when he bikes, I don’t make him wear it while he scooters. What the heck? That makes NO sense. Actually much of parenting makes no sense to me. And accidents happen. And sometimes the world sucks, so there’s that.
5. I’m too paranoid/I’m too trusting. Again, this is an example of how you can fail on both sides of the coin! Sometimes I’m too paranoid (I’ve told y’all about my anxiety and OCD ruminations) and other times I’m too trusting. Do I have my eye on my kids 24/7? Nope. In fact, I was so trusting when my son was in kindergarten that when he had his FIRST playdate over and they were in the backyard playing, I went upstairs to get something and when I came back down, they were GONE. He’d never taken off before – always stayed where I told him to and behaves so it blew my mind he’d run away the first chance he got with a friend to show off. In those few minutes, they had gone in to the garage, got scooters, raced across TWO streets to the playground where I found them frantic minutes later. And, NO, they didn’t put helmets on themselves, either. Man, I was so upset over that one that I cried to my movie club about it that weekend. Other times I feel so paranoid (or simply cautious) that I feel I’m encroaching or being too helicoptery. JUST YOU WAIT FOR IT, PARENTS OF LITTLE ONES. It gets even HARDER when they are teens, not easier. Like driving, dating, activities away from home? Yeah. Hellah hard! Just in a different way.
Thing is, we probably all make these fails and more. I’d like for us to cut ourselves some slack AND try to be the best parents we can be. We need to ask forgiveness when we’re wrong and be good listeners and great teachers and good role models. That’s not just tough as a parent, that’s tough as a human being. But that’s kind of why we’re here on earth, right?
This week, I’m getting real about DOING WHAT I SAY I’LL DO and really trying to stay in the present moment around them. Listen, talk, laugh, whatever. I love those boogers.
Next week I’m talking about one of my favorite things of all time and that’s INTUITION. And I swear it’s a heckuvva lot easier than parenting!
P.S. Working moms and dads, stay at home moms and dads, let’s cut each other a break. In my world view, Pinterest moms and Store Bought moms can live in harmony. Amen.