Sometimes when I finally put my head on the pillow after a long day, I just want to cry. If I’m being totally honest, I do cry at the end of those days.
I feel like all I did was yell, argue, discipline, clean up mess after mess and made no difference whatsoever. I failed at cleaning. I failed at loving. I failed at discipline. I FAILED big time at patience. I have so much love for my children, but did they feel any of that? I’m not sure, and that makes me feel like GIVING UP. But giving up isn’t an option. And even though it’s hard to remember it in the moment, I am a big believer in the philosophy that it takes many failures to breed success. And so, I will try again. The next second. The next minute. The next day. The next year, and on and on until hopefully one day I will look at my children and see that my endurance paid off.
What is this successful payoff? I think that is different for every parent and for every child, and it changes, possibly from day to day. For me, right now, success means lessons learned; whether it be table manners, empathy for others, or self-esteem. I don’t know it all so I can’t teach it all, but we can live it together, take each challenge as it comes and hopefully above all, love each other through our failures and our victories no matter how big or small. My biggest challenge right now is to stop beating myself up over not getting it right the first, second, third time… and then trying again, all the while respecting the “failure” in the first place; meaning actually learning something, no matter how small, from each stumble.
What is a “failure?” I have so many. Losing my temper. Having zero patience. Treating a child like an adult. Pushing them to their limits and then getting angry when they break or when they don’t have the emotional maturity or vocabulary to articulate what they need the way I want to hear it. Not knowing enough as a parent. Not reading enough; not learning enough. But then for not forgetting what “they” say and trusting my instincts enough. There are so many opposing views and more opinions than anyone can handle these days, and they don’t just come at you in the checkout line anymore. They are in your bed, in your bathroom, and they can creep in when you are feeling your lowest.
It’s so easy to get down on ourselves when we are constantly presented with the best versions of everyone around us through social media. Look at how awesome my family is, growing organic gardens, taking nature hikes, going to ballets, arts and science museums. But what happened before or after that photo? Or behind the scenes as the shutter clicks? A puke attack? A complete meltdown? Screaming at your kid to smile and look happy!? Organic dirt thrown in your eye? Probably all of these things. But we don’t see those, who the heck wants to expose that side? (some people do, and I sincerely thank them for that – I get my reality check from my girls over at nursingandcursing.com, their podcast is so hilarious and makes me feel just a little bit normal).
It’s no big deal, we all do it, and so we all KNOW deep down the pictures we see are not the reality of parenting (at least not the majority of it); but see it over and over and over, especially when you are having a bad day, and it creeps in. Why is everyone else so much better at parenting than I am?? The feeling of failure and isolation in a world that is so “connected” is overwhelming and confusing.
But when I take the time to quiet the status updates, parenting articles, and book advice swirling through my brain I’ve come up with this:
LOVE each other.
RESPECT each other and ourselves.
DISCIPLINE of one’s self as well as behavioral discipline.
WORK We all have jobs to do; age appropriate chores are good for everyone.
PLAY Play is a child’s work; they need time to be unstructured.
FAITH Faith in each other, belief in the goodness we all possess. Faith in ourselves; we are doing a good job.
Success to me is a well-adjusted, happy kid (who doesn’t act happy all the time), with a well-rounded exposure to many different aspects of life. But if I could gift my children one lesson to take with them on their journey, it’s that failure is okay. It’s more than okay–it’s how we learn. Failure is actually how you succeed. And so I will lead by example. I will CONTINUE to fail as a parent every day. And then I will regain my composure, take a deep breath, give a big hug and try, try again.