I don’t know about you, but if I had a dime for every time I second-guessed my parenting abilities, I would be one seriously rich woman.
Every single rule I set, every decision I made, every transgression I let slide, every punishment I meted out...all have been subject to post-incident scrutiny. Did I handle that right? Should I have done x instead of y? Was I too harsh? Soft? Indecisive? Involved? Uninvolved? Argh!
Yeah, I’m betting you’ve been there, done that, too.
Because unfortunately, this parenting gig doesn’t come with a set of instructions. And even if it did, those instructions would very likely need to change with each individual child, because what works with one might be the worst possible thing you can do with another. Sure, you need to have some basic ground rules, but let’s face it, not all children are created equal, and neither are all parents. Rather, we’re all a work in progress...and sometimes I think we forget to honour that.
You see, there’s a process to raising a child that goes beyond societal expectations or expert
advice. A process that requires us to take a step back now and again so we can see ourselves objectively...as parents, as our child’s partner in growing up, and as human beings. As much as your mother/mother-in-law/sister/best friend/(insert other well-meaning party here) would have you believe, parenting isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. Instead, it's trial and error, it's angst and joy, and it’s hundreds of thousands of tiny little adjustments we make on a daily and weekly basis as our child grows and changes and life throws various hurdles in our way.
And it never ends.
I’ve lost count of the number of hours I’ve spent researching ways to help Mika cope with a world that overwhelms her—and for ways to help myself cope with the terrifying responsibility that sometimes overwhelms me. I’ve read dozens of books by experts, spent thousands of hours on the internet, and tried and discarded hundreds of suggestions that didn’t work—some for her, others for me, a few for either of us. We’ve had some major differences of opinion along the way, but that was part of the process, too. The same process that has allowed me to come to know my daughter as no expert possibly could, and it has allowed her to know herself.
Did I make mistakes? Hells, yes. There are dozens of things I wish I’d done differently, and hundreds of occasions when I wish I’d considered my words more carefully before speaking them. But those are behind me now, and I cannot change them. More importantly, I’m not sure I should change them, because each has in some way made a contribution to where we are now. Made us who we are, if you will.
Sharp words have become opportunities to model apologies; failures have become chances to admit and face our weaknesses; bad decisions have illustrated how to take responsibility for our actions; and emotional breakdowns have shown that we’re all human...even parents.
It’s all been part of the process...of parenting, of being human, of living. And if there is one gift I could bestow on all of you reading this, it would be to trust that process, because yes, you are doing it right. Right for you, right for your child, right for your family.
P.S. We all know someone who could use this reminder...please share using the buttons below! :)