Have you ever strived to be the perfect parent? You try and try and feel yourself falling short? I do. All the time. The mom guilt is brutal some days. I’m not feeding my children a hot meal every morning, they don’t get organic whole foods every time. I lose my patience and yell. (I mean, I said it three times already and they didn’t listen!)
They say parenting is hard, and it is. Most every day my house is a disaster. I’m tripping over toys in every room. The playroom doesn’t contain the mess. My threenager has gotten out every item of clothing she owns, and and she’s crying again for no apparent reason (I probably gave her the wrong spoon).
Your children push you and test you. They test your patience, your need for cleanliness, your need for quiet. They make you question your own neuroses. Any of those ‘OCD tendencies’ you try to keep in check will be on fire.
When they’re young they’ll pee, poop and puke on you. They will spill something almost daily, yell and scream for no apparent reason – at home and in public – and upon investigation you discover you gave them the wrong cup. They’ll get out every toy they own and spread them all over the house every day, and as soon as they can open drawers, all of their clothes as well.
As they age, they will question you, blame you, put you down, disobey you and probably lie to you. They’ll make the same mistakes even though you told them not to. They will do things differently than you expect.
And you, the parent, will lose your patience and yell at them even when it’s not warranted (though many times it will be). You will struggle to do everything right and fail.
You will think you’re failing because of these things, but don’t believe it!
In the middle of their tantrum over whatever is going on, you look at them and you love them. No matter what they do, you love them. It is your capacity to love them through it all that makes you a good, no – a great – parent. Because there is no such thing as a perfect person or perfect parent. We all fall short. There is one force, however, that surpasses us. That force is love.
When you love them unconditionally, you show them it’s also okay for them to fall short, to be human. When you show them you love them anyway, you give them a safe place to learn and grow. When you love them through it all, you give them the perfect gift. All children, all people, need to feel loved. It gives us a sense of hope, of security.
To feel loved is to be home.
I think back to my childhood, and though my memories are fuzzy, one theme stands out, that my parents loved me. Despite all of my mistakes, poor choices, the times I yelled at them, they loved me. The teenage years … need I say more? They weren’t perfect, but I always knew they loved me, and that made them perfect to me.
So chin up, parents. You’re doing better than you realize. Keep on loving your children because that is the memory that will stand the test of time.
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