I don't normally fill this space with many words, or tackle big issues. It's not the space I've meant to play that part. But lately I've been thinking about one issue in particular, mainly because it's been tearing at my heart, and because I'm facing it on a daily basis.
Since becoming a mother I've seen my fair share of the parenting articles that make the facebook rounds. There are those that remind us that we are an example to our children, that we should remember to lay down our phones, and that it will all go by so quickly. There are the responses to those also, that always circulate a few days later. There are the articles that tell us to always put our children first, and then those that say the opposite ("remember to take care of you!"). Everyone has a nugget of parenting wisdom, and the internet has provided a way for everyone that agrees with you to chime in. They all have a lot of good things to say, but sometimes I wonder if I really need to be reading them. Yes, they're all good reminders, but sometimes I wonder if they don't simply remind me of an area that I already know is lacking. And I wonder if that's not the case for many of the other parents reading it as well, because really, is the parent that
know they shouldn't yell at their kid actually connecting there? I'm not saying that it isn't good to be reminded of things, or that the authors of those articles haven't offered the world some great good. I'm just questioning how often we as are parents are told how to do this thing right, or how we are doing it wrong. Because here's the thing; I am going to fail my child. You are going to fail your child too, in ways that are obvious and in ways you will never know. And as much as we are told what our children need, there is one thing for sure: our children need to see us fail.
You are never going to do this thing perfectly. You are going to say the wrong thing, do thing wrong thing, and choose the wrong road sometimes. You are going to lose your temper when you are short on sleep and your wide eyed child won't lay down for a nap. You will yell and cry and ache at this thing called parenthood that puts you in the position of shaping another human beings life. You will yell and cry and ache at that little human being too. You will remember your own hurt as a child and swear to never repeat it, only to create a new grievance that you'll hear about when your kid is a teenager and decides it's time to tell you about your failure. Or not. Regardless, the point is that you will never do this exactly right, that's life, and your kids need to see it. They need to see you fail miserably, and then recover, so that they know how to recover too. They need to see you forgive yourself, as much as you need to forgive them.
I'm a Christian, and I believe my children need to see me trust the grace of the God I say I believe in. They need to see me believe that he already died for that dumb ass thing I just did to them, so I can acknowledge it, apologize, and move on. That's me, but no matter who you pray to, or if you don't, it doesn't matter. Your children need to know that you are human, and they need to learn what humans do. Humans are awesome. They are loving. They are beautiful role models, and they are also failures. They suck at being parents from time to time. They break, and hurt, and are wrong. (Just to clarify, I am in NO way encouraging any situation where there is real abuse or neglect, that is a different situation entirely). I'm simply saying that in a society that is filled with information for the average parent, we need to remember that this is real life. In real life I'm going to look at my phone sometimes when I should be looking at my child. I'm going to yell at her for being the strong willed, stubborn, mini version of myself, and she's going to cry when I hurt her feelings. I'm not damaging her. I'm not ruining her life. I'm being human. You're being human when that happens to you too, and dehumanizing the role of parenthood just isn't helpful.
Most of us are doing the best we can at this crazy ass thing called motherhood, or fatherhood, and most of our children know that we love them. My child is not the center of my universe. She is a deeply intricate part of my life, and my heart. She knows that. But I'm really not loving her if I can't show her what humanity is, and how I'm learning and growing and figuring out this life with her. I'm not a static being. I'm a passionate, flowing, changing thing, with emotions just like her. I'm learning too, and she needs to see that. Five minutes ago I yelled at my child, through tears, because she has been fighting sleep for a month straight. I'm tired. But today I'm going to choose to remember that this is part of life, and as much as she needs to learn that I know how to handle my big emotions, she also needs to learn that sometimes I don't. And that there's enough grace in me, and her for that.
There's my parenting article against parenting articles. ;)