Friday, May 16, 2014

Get Real

My friend Maddie said the other day, "I've always heard that it's better to be an imperfect parent.  If the parents are great all the time, the kids aren't really ready for reality.  The world hits them in the face."  I've had that very statement in the back of my mind for a week and slowly but surely, it's starting to sink in.

I put a lot of pressure on myself to be a great parent.  (I'm sure you can't relate to that at all...)  Every evening I will sit and tell my husband stories about my day and list things I could work on.  "I really feel like I left Drew to play on his own for too long today while we worked on Luke's reading," I will say.  Or "I was really hard on Luke today.  He had me so frustrated that I raised my voice and told him to just go away.  I hope he's okay..."  Or "I barely even made eye contact with Rosie today! The boys took so much of my attention!"  If I don't say it out loud, I think it.  I am constantly reviewing our interactions and taking a mental inventory of time and attention spent on each of them.  It's exhausting and, I'm beginning to think, unnecessary.

No matter how hard I try, I will never be perfect.  I have moments (or days) that I am filled with frustration.  I run out of patience.  I raise my voice.  I hurt their feelings.  I am unfair.  As much as I love them, they are absolutely maddening sometimes.  They push my emotions to their very limits. I can be brought to tears while looking at their sleeping faces one minute and then feel tears spilling over at the exhausting life of motherhood when I have to clean up an entire bottle of syrup that was "poured" on our new kitchen table.  I can feel incredibly blessed when they pick a flower for me then cursed when start fighting with each other.  This is a hard, hard job.  Why make it harder by beating myself up?

I'm realizing that the more times I lose my patience, the more opportunities I will have to teach them that it's okay to mess up sometimes.  I can tell them I was wrong and that Mommy has bad days, too.  If I raise my voice, I have an opportunity to teach them about forgiveness.  If I ask them to please, for the love of God, give me five minutes to read a book, I am teaching them how important it is to take time for yourself.  They will need to learn all these things and more.  Maybe if I give myself a little grace, I will begin to see that perfection is the last thing I should be striving for.  Real is so much more fun.

How can you give yourself a little grace for being less than perfect?  What can your children learn through your imperfections



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