Parenting is undoubtedly the most difficult job I’ve ever done. It’s not instinctive for me or intuitive, though Tom frequently argues with me on this, the fact remains that I do not feel like a good mother.
I’m a perfectionist. I’m hard on myself. Most days I fear I’m such a f-up that I can’t raise healthy kids. I fear that things that made me the way I am will be repeated in my children. I vacillate between fear that I am too hard on my kids and fear that I’m not hard enough. And I know that no matter what I do, kids ultimately make their own choices. How does one become a good parent before it’s too late?
If we look at how we were raised we can compare but there’s so much left …
to sheer randomness,
to the personalities of parents and each child,
to the context or environment,
to the spirituality of every person involved.
So we observe others. We learn from our friends. We work on our personal shit. I find myself hoping that the days will s t r e t c h out. And that time will slow down.
Who doesn’t need more time to improve upon themselves? With life moving so quickly and my children dashing into their teen years, I suddenly want to press the slow motion button. I see how quickly we got here, If only there were more time.
If the Bible were a parenting manual (which it is not) I think perhaps it would say work on yourself (character) first and the fruits of your life (spirit) and then perhaps God will add to these things, but there are no guarantees.
One thing I know. The more you try to control the outcome, the less likely you’ll get it exactly the way you want it.
So what’s a person to do? Getting my kids report cards, I felt as if I was back in middle school. I want so much more for my kids than what I had, everyone does. I don’t want their choices in life to be limited by their current lack of imagination, or willingness to work hard, or the incentives as they perceive them. And as I rail internally against my own feelings of failure, I relive my wretched school years and I cry a bucket of tears, full of my own regrets and feelings of failure.
I am left with more questions.
How do we teach our children that we love them unconditionally – that no matter what they EVER DO, seriously I mean EVER — That our love is irreversible? This is a super power, this unconditional love. If they get this one thing I believe all the rest will fall into place for them.
I never believed I was unconditionally loved growing up. I thought love I received or didn’t was connected to my behaviours, choices, failures and successes, “the B should have/could have been an A” because nothing was ever good enough to make my father happy.
How do we make it absolutely clear to our children that no matter what job they do some day, or what grades they get or what degrees they accomplish, or what hobbies, interests, sports or other talents they choose or naturally have, no matter, they are loved!
And I think perhaps parenting is a daily laying down of my life — giving up my rights — my power — my control, and sitting with the Holy One, admitting my weakness, my brokenness and that I cannot do it alone.
For a perfectionist it is hard to admit there is no perfect parent, that mistakes will be made, are made daily. And ultimately I am not in control.
For a perfectionist it is hard to let go and accept that who my children become is entirely up to them!
Celebrate them. Enjoy them. Affirm them. Give them every opportunity.
And also give them space to find themselves.
Just as I am.