It happens to all of us I think. I think at some point every mother ends up in the middle of the room yelling, “WHY DO I EVEN BOTHER TALKING WHEN NO ONE LISTENS!!!” Or we at least break down in tears; we think we are the worst parent. We can’t find out happy place. Our children refuse to clean; our husband has us tuned out because we have ranted about the same problem ten times. Maybe it’s not just Moms, Dads too. How many times have we yelled and screamed in our minds and at some point we loose it. Maybe we slap our kids hand for having a massive melt down and we can’t get their attention, or we spank them or we yell or we say, “What’s your problem?!?!” Maybe we have gotten in their face and yelled or something, something we are not proud of.
As a daycare provider I see it all the time. Parents trying to convince me they are a perfect parent. They try to convince me that things are going smoothly when I can see the struggle in their eyes. Guess what, me too; I have spent nights up crying. I went through a very tough couple years after my Dad had his stroke where I would yell and scream at my son for being a kid. Not every day but some times I would just loose my marbles. I would plan birthdays and events and be irritable and cranky to the family as I was getting things ready. I wondered why I was even a Mom. I couldn’t get my shit in order to have dinner planned or even clean my house! I was a fraud, a sham; maybe I should give my kid up for adoption to someone who knew how to parent. Look at all these put together parents with their hair and nails done. They have matching clothes that are washed and they look like they came off of the cover of parent’s magazine!!!! What am I doing wrong?!?!?!?!
Then it happened, one day it all made sense, it all was clear. I was doing nothing wrong. Instead of cleaning I was playing with my kids. Instead of cooking I was putting together whatever I could with the little money I had but got to enjoy more time talking to my kids. I stopped trying to reach parent perfection. I was just trying to be a perfect parent to my kids. I spent more time building my son up vs. telling him what he did wrong. I made consequences clear and stopped giving chances. I just told them, “you do this and this happens.” I found that if I started the day with clear set goals with my kids and talked to them we had a smoother day. If he was having a bad day we talked about it and maybe I relaxed on the rules that day because we all have bad days. I started realizing the kids were well, little people who needed me to sometimes just listen.
Then another thing happened, things were moving smoothly along and I lost my stuff again. I couldn’t find happiness and I was yelling all the time. My mother was dying, I was taking care of my father, and I lost my FIL and my uncle. I couldn’t figure my way through the grief. I couldn’t find my balance and I was lost. Guess what, I am a human, I am a person who has an emotional threshold like the rest of the world but I started comparing myself to others again. Well, how is it that so and so can keep it together while they are going through a divorce? Why it is a daycare provider can care for kids 12 hours a day and not loose their mind? Why is it?
You know what it is? You know what it all really is? It is the fact that we don’t see when a parent looses it. When they break down and start crying because they are watching the child they love take over the house and they don’t know what to do next. You are not there when they start crying because no one napped and they haven’t even had a shower yet that day. You aren’t there when they just can’t get to the grocery store so they grab whatever they can find to make a meal. (Veggies over rice anyone?)
There is no such thing as a perfect parent. We can only parent as consistently as possible. To find balance inside of us at all times is hard.
My sisters thought I was a very angry Mom and not a happy mother. When at home my son and I were always laughing and playing together. We had the most amazing time cuddling every night and talking. He would fall asleep in my arms nearly every night until he was 5. No one sees my daughter and I cuddle every day and how I tell my kids I love them every day. I tell them I am proud of them every day. I tell them how much fun they are to be around. I also correct their behavior as needed and I work hard to get clarification if they are moody.
So judge your parenting on just a couple of notes and save yourself the misery of perfection.
1. Are they fed?
2. Are they happy 97% of the time?
3. Do they know they are loved?
4. Do they know you are the safe arms to go to?
5. Do they know that you will never give up on them?
6. Do you tell them you are proud of them for every new accomplishment?
7. Do they feel like they can take over the world?
You are an imperfectly perfect parent. It is a wild and crazy ride. There are days you feel like you are failing, that you can’t understand what is up with your children. There are days that they will catch you off guard and do something that shocks you, maybe breaks your heart but in the end, just remember to tell them you forgive their imperfections and you love them. Just as you need to forgive your imperfections and love yourself.