Monday, August 19, 2013

Parenting--A Journey of Imperfection

There a a million articles online that tell us all how to be good parents.  There are a million more blogs that give advice on how to have the happiest children.  I mean we should all be perfect at this point, shouldn't we be?  How do we STILL screw up so much?  

Last week I read an article that went viral about not telling my kids to "hurry up."  I read it quickly because duh, I was in a hurry.  I was moved and vowed to slow down and never say hurry up again, ever. I vowed to get it right, starting that moment. I vowed to be a perfect parent. We were going to have a great day. And then I promptly turned around and noticed Wade had no shoes on, Peyton was laying on the couch playing on his stupid Kindle, Lucy hadn't brushed her teeth and JT was still in his god damn pajamas.  "What are you doing?!!!" I screamed.  "We're going to be laaaaaate! Hurrrry uuuuuuuup!"

Total failure.

But seriously, I'd told them the plan for the morning, laid out the clothes for the little ones, reminded them seven thousand times to brush their teeth and given them "five more minutes."  What the hell?  Didn't they know I was trying to be a perfect parent?  

As the kids get older it gets harder to hide my parenting failures.

Every time we get in the minivan to head to my oldest son's games he looks nervous.  Two times (two times!) I got a little lost and we were late to his games.  Considering he's almost 12 and he's played a gajillion games I think that's a pretty good record.  But he never forgets.  "You're lost aren't you?" he asks when I look the least bit frazzled on the way to a game.  And he usually adds an "I knew it."

"Well, children, I'm doing the best I can and that's what we all do," I calmly plead explain.  "I mean we should really have compassion for each other, right?"

This statement/request is often met with a few eye rolls.  Usually one kid is a kiss-ass and says "yeah, mom is really trying hard you guys" with a smug smile that says "I am the favorite child right now."

It's like the time I sent him to Pajama Day in Pre-K and it wasn't Pajama Day.  He hasn't ever forgotten. He always checks and rechecks those special dress up days at school to make sure they are legit.  And he always brings extra clothes in his back pack, just in case mom screws up AGAIN.

We laugh about the Pajama Day now.  Even my serious, un-trusting oldest child laughs a little. Time does heal.  And aren't failures some of the best teaching tools?  Aren't the quirky mistakes our parents/families have made the stuff of legend and laughter later in life?

I picture my kids as adults lovingly telling stories about their unorganized, but hilarious mom getting some details (like directions and dress up days) wrong.  Then throwing their heads back with laughter.  "Mom was never boring," one of the kiss-asses will say and then they will all nod thinking "my god I love that woman."

Almost every day I look at my kids and I am very conscious that this is their right now, their moment where everything matters. 

Bubble machines outside of a store? Sweet. This was our moment yesterday.  This mattered.  Spontaneous bubbles, I mean, come on, they matter.

The karate game that I find so stupid and dangerous is also what they might tell stories about later.  The lazy days of summer that are seemingly never ending and making me a little nuts by now will be some of their best memories.  I remember mine.  Summer 1985: We played a game called Green Glob in the grassy knoll in the middle of our condo complex and every time we played (every time!) a kid got hurt.  It was stupid and dangerous and drove our parents crazy, but it was the best summer of my childhood.  We'd ride our bikes down to the pool that was the size of a ping pong table and available to all the people that had condos and the nearby apartment complex.  My mother, who didn't swim, found it a little disgusting and germ-y.  But I swam every damn day that summer.  I honestly sort of remember her getting on us a little about our rooms being messy, but I really remember the grassy knoll, the Green Glob and the most amazing swimming pool evah.  It was my right now and it was amazing.

So, yeah, I mess up, I yell a little (some days a lot), Wade almost always puts on and wears his shorts backwards, I get some of the details wrong sometimes.  But I move on.  Perfect is boring.  They won't remember a lot of the daily little failures, but they'll remember their right now and I will do my best to honor that.  And the failures they do remember, I hope they can laugh about them and know that I was doing my best.

Most of us are really doing the best we can.  But parents are humans.  We get tired, we get stressed.  The constant reminder that life is going fast and we are missing the moments and screwing up our kids can be a little overwhelming.

So today I vow to not be a perfect parent.  Perfect is boring. I vow to slow down more and say hurry up less.  I vow to get it right more than I get it wrong.  I vow to be nice, be in the moment, breathe deeper, laugh harder and forgive myself when I screw up and have to start over.

And I will continue to read the articles and blogs, not only to get advice, but to feel less alone on this imperfect journey to give my kids the best right now possible.


  1. A big amen to the feeling less alone. Every day I wake up and I promise myself that I'll try, because really that's all we can do. Try.