Pick up any parenting magazine in the dentist office waiting room, and you’re bound to find articles which tout the idealism of the “perfect mom”. They don’t mean to do it, I don’t think, but the internet and parenting blogs too fill your mind with “Just do this y thing and x will follow”. Parenting books are rife with promises of a new kid by Friday or actual magic if you can just 1, 2, 3, follow their plan, say their magic words, do the thing, and Ka-zam! the child will be different.
To that I say a resounding, big, fat, N to the O-P-E.
As much as I wish it were true, kids aren’t mathematical formulas. I do the best I can to be consistent, to teach them emotional intelligence, to laugh with them, to play with them, to discipline calmly, be kind, to be present, to be affectionate, to pray with them, to reinforce good behavior and character traits I’m trying to build…blah blah blah.
The other day my kid (who is double digits) punched me. Hard.
I feel like I’m failing everyone when I make a mistake as simple as running out of frozen pizza for our Friday night pizza tradition. If that can make me feel like a failure of a mom, what must I be thinking if my kid flat out punches me in the middle of a melt down?
I have at least two kids with neurological differences. A couple with learning disabilities. I have extraordinarily loud and inquisitive kids, which often makes their needs supremely difficult to meet. I also have several children, and feel spread too thin a lot of the time. I’m a good mom.
So are you.
My difficult kids are absolutely good-hearted. As are yours. My challenging kids are grandly loved and adored. So are yours. Sometimes my kids literally don’t have self-control. When they’re already tweens, it’s especially hard to acknowledge that “it should be like this imaginary scenario I have lovingly created in my head” actually isn’t. The “should be” in your head might be different from the “what is” also. I’m well-intentioned, and intentional. You are too. My kids generally don’t ‘toe the line’ like some adults expect them to, but they are thoughtful, and generous, and kind, and loving, and lovable. So are yours.
My children do not follow any kind of equation of “x kind of discipline + y kind of home life + ‘great mom’= good kid.” This might make them more difficult to raise, but they’re still good kids.
When my children are “misbehaving”, barefoot in church, or accidentally trip a stranger because of their rambunctious behavior, I try to remind myself they are good kids. They might be playing hide-and-seek in the clothing racks just because it impulsively seemed like fun, or perhaps they are screaming at each other or at me, or I’m feeling embarrassed by their actions, and it’s hard to remember they ARE good kids. When they do stuff they should know better than to do, I have to remember that I’m a good mom. Just like you.
I’m doing the best I can.
As are you.