Sunday, March 9, 2014

I'm not a perfect parent

Earlier in the week a gorgeous friend of mine (you know who you are) posted this article on Facebook.

I read it and "liked" it.  But you know what I "liked" more?  The comment her friend added underneath that read "Hmmm, do they have an article titled "Love your Parents. Leave them Alone"? I would like to read that one!!"

Because while I can't help but enjoy and be inspired by articles like this and this and I like they way they make me think, remind me and push me to be the best parent I can be, sometimes they can feel a little overwhelming too.

I love the idea of being the Zen parent that never rushes or speaks harshly to my child.  But perhaps I need to acknowledge that this is never going to be me.

And maybe I need to acknowledge that there is a part of me that just doesn't really want to be that parent, not that much.

Because I mean when the authors talk about their children being happy as clams and brimming with pride at being respected by their parents, I'm all for it.  But perhaps these women are just better people than me.  Certainly better mothers, if what they say is true.

To never tell your child to "Hurry up"?  Sorry, look I get your point, life gets lived when we slow down, but seriously?

By son loves it when we are not in a hurry and I let him play in the front seat of the car before we head inside.  He pushes all the buttons, pretends to drive, and rearranges all the mirrors.  Sigh.  And I let him do it because he loves it, and because I love watching him love it.

But seriously, at some point we have to go inside.

People need to eat, stuff needs to get done.  I mean I know I'm "letting go of my to do list" and all, but lets get real here, folks.  If I lived on my kids timetable I'd still be on the footpath watching him play in the car and the seasons would have changed.

And in terms of leaving your kids alone.  Again, I take the point.  I understand it's a radical experiment in treating your kids like autonomous individuals who have their own minds and can use them - sometimes with results greater than we as parents ever would have credited them with.  I get it, I do - like I've said before, the best parenting I do is often when I get out of the way of my kids.  

But I also have to be true to myself, and I am just not that kind of parent. And if that means admitting I am not a perfect parent, or not as good a parent as you, then so be it.  

I am just not that parent who can negotiate with my kids about potential future cavities and dental co-payments to try and gently persuade them to clean their teeth.

I am not going to tell them "It would be really helpful for Mama if you tidied up your toys this time" when what I really mean is "Clean up your toys, or mama is going to lose her shit in a major way." 

This might not be perfect parenting.  This might not be Zen parenting.  This might not be parenting that acknowledges the intrinsic intelligence of the whole and autonomous humans I am raising. 

But it is real.

My kids know when I am angry.

And if and when that anger goes too far and we collectively lose our minds and say or do things we don't mean and and now regret?

They know when I am sorry.

And they know that I love them.  

Because I tell them this every day.

And I show them in the way I treat them with respect, I acknowledge them, I choose them over other things, and I protect them.  All. The. Time.

Not perfectly.

Not always patiently.  Or prettily.

But really.

I love them and will raise them in my imperfect, often impatient, too often angry, but always honest, always striving to be better way.

The best and only way I can.  That will have to be good enough.  I hope it is good enough.

We all have to deal with the imperfections of our parents, I guess.  And my children are no exception.

But let's be real about this.

Do we now have to feel guilty about telling our kids to "Hurry up", or telling them they to brush their teeth, "Because I said so."

Let's just ease up on the perfection we demand from ourselves as parents, just a little, okay?

Let's just be pleased that we are at least trying, really, honestly trying to do our best.

For them.  Always for them.

How do you rate yourself as a parent?

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