Every parent is made up of a measure of good,
a portion of bad and
occasionally a dollop of ugly.
I don’t care how good a parent you are; this is true. The problem that we run into is focusing on any one part.
Many parents focus on the bad. They forget that there is a large portion of good. Others focus on the good and forget that they need to work on the bad. And occasionally, some see only the dollop of ugly. Each of these scenarios lessens our ability to parent well, long term.
Let me share three personal experiences.
1. I was on occasion, not nurturing. I can recall hearing a child gaging in the night and then pulling them out of bed, running them down the hall, all the while repeating in an urgent voice, “Hold it. Don’t throw up.”
2. My youngest daughter wanted to be a cheerleader. During the try-outs, she had to do a solo routine and fell. It seemed like an eternity until she looked up towards the bleachers where I was, although only seconds had passed. When she looked my way, she saw me standing in a sea of sitting parents. She saw me silently sending the message, I am proud of you. I want everyone to know I am your mom. Get up, you can do this. P.S. She made the squad!
3. We had six kids, were living in Montana, and money was tight. One night I found an open Tampon in the bathroom garbage. A child had been curious, opened it, and it was now no good. I had, on occasion, found myself without that needed necessity. I flipped.
I drug six kids out of bed, lined them up in the hall and went up and down the line shaking the Tampon in their noses, asking repeatedly, “WHO OPENED THIS!”
Story one is bad. A good mom sits on the side of the bed with a pan, soothing a fevered brow and speaking calm and loving words. They aren’t concerned with vomit and cleaning it up. Right?
Story two is so good. I mean, doesn’t it make you want to be that mom?
Story three is ugly, totally out of control.
And there it is. We all have our ugly moments. We all have moments when we shine. And we all have moments when it’s clear that although we aren’t the worst parent on the planet, we surely could be better.
It’s vital to remember that you are not just one part, you are all three. There is no perfection in parenting any more than there is perfection in friendship, relationships, or life.
We need to focus on the good. We need to improve the bad. And we need to forgive ourselves for the occasionally ugly. When we do this, we are better parents. There is power in seeing the good, acknowledging the bad and forgiving the ugly and that power helps us parent better.
Here are a few things I have learned
about kids that make it easier for you to improve and forgive yourself, to worry less and to know that it’s going to be OK in the end.
• Kids love their parents unconditionally
• Kids are quick to forgive
• Kids are resilient
• Kids have a way of moving on
Our goal is not perfection. There is always going to be something you don’t know, haven’t mastered yet or that is messy. In a family, in life, there is always work to do. Keep improving yourself. Do more good, improve the bad and you will lessen the ugly. And in the end, it will all be OK.