If This is How My Kid Sees Us, Maybe We’re Not Such Lousy Parents
Why the lens of a child is more telling than anything.
I spend more time than I care to admit critiquing my parenting skills. I’m constantly fighting that internal voice telling me, “You should have picked the kids up earlier”, “You could have cooked something yummy and healthy for dinner”, “Why can’t you make spinach taste like chocolate?”
It never ends.
The pressure to be a good parent is my own doing (and to be fair, society’s too, but for the sake of maturity and owning up to what’s mine, the onus is on me).
I want to be a better parent for my children. They deserve it. Kids don’t ask to be born, we make that decision for them, so shouldn’t we at least try to make it as lovely and beautiful and unicorn-like as we possibly can?
Some days, I give myself a pat on the back for doing the best that I can. But other days, there’s that incessant mutter in my head reminding me I could be doing better. Like, “You know, if you spent less time on your phone, then you’d be more present!”. And “Why did you forget it was Spirit Week at school? The other kids’ moms remembered!”
Or like the time we drove two hours to a birthday party, only to find no cars parked anywhere. I thought we were early. Turns out we were a day late. My husband called it an honest mistake. That didn’t keep my kid from crying hysterically.
Don’t good intentions count for anything?
It seems that no matter how hard I try, I still end up feeling inadequate. And the worst part is, that I thought I would be a great parent.
I always loved kids. I started babysitting when I was twelve, I was a youth group leader, camp counselor, and a school teacher for over 15 years. I mean seriously, how hard could raising my own kids be?
Turns out it’s not easy peasy lemon squeezy.
Parenting can sometimes feel like teaching 24/7, without a bathroom break, while trying to run a marathon and having dodge balls thrown at you, in the rain. And without sleep.
Yet, aren’t there images everywhere of ‘happy’ women getting everything done? Mommying it up while working at home, the office, and the gym. And they somehow find time for that weekend getaway with their besties, champagne glasses sparkling between perfectly manicured fingernails.
Well, I’m calling BS on that.
I think any woman who claims that she can easily balance family, work and ‘me time’ is either lying or superhuman. OK, maybe she’s just gifted. Or maybe she has a full-time nanny. And a personal assistant. And a cook. And a cleaning crew. And a stylist. I don’t know.
A good day for me is finding my uniform (yoga pants and wrinkled shirt) in a drawer and not a pile of laundry. A great day is when I work and have dinner ready before the kids get home. An excellent day is when I’m done with my chores before 9 pm.
It’s hard for me to feel like I am giving any of area of my life the best of me because:
- By the time my kids come home, I’m so tired. And they have so much energy, and that makes me more tired.
- My work schedule adapts to my family schedule. It doesn’t always feel professional having to cancel an appointment due to a last-minute field trip, or because I was up all night shooing away monsters or bad dreams.
- ‘Me time’? Seriously? I added it to the list because I thought it belonged there, not because I actually have a lot of recent experience in that department.
Yesterday, I was getting my little one into her car seat and she asked for a marker and a pad of paper. I found them under a pile of trash in the back seat, but I digress.
Anyway, we were off on our merry way to pick up my older one. While I was driving, my kid tells me, “Mommy, look at what I’m drawing!” I remind her that I can’t look while I’m driving because it’s not safe. She persists, “Mommy, Mommy look, this is you and Daddy!”
I get to the light and turn around and see the most beautiful picture I have ever seen her draw. It was me and Daddy, with wild hair and wide eyes. And there we were, with our heads leaning against each other, smiling. We were also pink.
In the two minutes it took us to get from her school to the traffic light, she drew a masterpiece. She was thinking about me in the car. She wanted to draw me because she likes me. And Daddy too.
This child is a happy child. A child who knows that she is loved. Through her eyes, we are happy and smiling. Despite what we may feel in the midst of our crazy routines, our child drew us the way that she sees us: for who we are, not who we are trying to be.
Despite the lack of sleep, the stack of dishes, the mountain of laundry and the endless lists, I must be doing something right.
Loving my kids is the one thing I’m not lousy at.
What more can I really ask for? Whatever I’m doing — even if it isn’t good enough for whatever standards I have set in my head, it’s good enough for my kids. And that’s good enough for me.