Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Being good versus being perfect.

Sometimes I feel like we, as parents, are expected to do everything right by the book. The first time. How to say things the right way. How to approach a situation in a calm, patient manner. How to love and nurture but not love and nurture TOO much. How to praise but not overpraise. How to discipline but not discipline. No time outs. No yelling. No taking away things. Big no no on bribery and threats. Practice what you preach, and be the best role model there is.
Just when I think that my biggest challenge is to stay calm and not yell during situations that challenge my patience the most, I realize that I have to further evaluate every detail down to what I do and say. For instance, having to think about how I word phrases.
" I like the way you drew that painting instead of "You are a great artist!" Why? Because added pressure will harm them as they grow older and they may have instance of failure and/or depression.

"I'm doing it all wrong," I say to myself.

Should I have reacted that way. Should I have lost my patience. Was I right in what I said/did. Could she tell how frustrated I was. Should I just let it go and let her eat what she wants instead. Am I pushing her too much in this subject. How do I get her to listen because she wants to, not because I said so. How do I be present without being overbearing. Where is the balance.

I'm always over analyzing. And the more I read, the more I do this. The constant thinking and replaying in my head. Sometimes it really eats away at me and I put so much pressure on myself that it is absolutely overwhelming. Beating myself down for not doing it the "right" way from the beginning.

Today, more than ever before, we feel as though the root to solving problems such as crime, depression, suicide, bullying, mental disorders, and more is to really break down parenting in every form so that we can mold what the "right" parent looks like. We have invested so much time and energy in parenthood that we are quick to judge a person's actions based on their upbringing and the decisions that their parents made. We look and analyze every scenario that is placed in front of a parent without thinking of outside circumstances and tell them in a black or white manner: this is right or this is wrong.

I mean, for Pete's sake, we are doing research on crying it out method and brainwashing people into believing that letting a baby cry a little to learn how to self soothe {at the appropriate age} is equivalent to abuse and can have damaging effects on them as an adult. Fear. Instilling fear into these parents because by putting it that way what loving parent in their right mind would ever want to be the cause of emotional damage to their precious bundle of joy. It's that simple.
But we are humans.

We are humans that want to just parent freely and live without all these expectations, all these rules, and all these high standards that are set forth by" experts" in the complex field of parenting. Experts that cannot seem to agree on one thing. Experts that contradict one another. Experts that ten years from now will come up with a new study that will probably tell me "Oops, I guess this isn't so bad after all."

Here is my idea on perfect: It doesn't exist. And certainly, I'm far from the model perfect parent. And quite honestly, I'm okay with that.

For a while there, I was sending Andrew article after article about everything we were doing wrong. I lost sleep over this idea that I was not in fact perfect. That I was somehow failing my children by bribing at times, or sending them to time out, or not being loving enough, or loving too much, or just plain old sucking for saying things like "GOOD JOB" when they mastered a skill. 
Never did I imagine that I would be scolded for saying "Good job" to my children. 
But then something happened, and I woke up one day and realized that there are so many ways that I am a great parent, a darn fabulous parent, and that I was focusing on all the wrong things in this journey of motherhood.

I no longer have this desire for my children to see me as this "perfect" mom, "perfect" wife, or "perfect" person. One that doesn't yell, one that doesn't get frustrated, one that doesn't get annoyed and tired and worn out. Although it sounds lovely---it's just not who I am, nor someone I think I can ever be.

I admire the women who can and are.

A conversation that I have often with my oldest is about how it is normal to express our feelings. I explain to her that it is okay for her to cry. It is okay for her to have feelings of frustration and anger and be upset about something. I want her to know that it is okay and to not hold it in and to talk it out, and that I am not mad at her for expressing her emotions. Because they are real, they are normal, and they certainly are forgivable. I do the same when I get angry, whether that be at the situation at hand or a particular person. After the fact, I explain to her that this is an emotion and at times it is hard for us to understand what to do with that emotion, and that what is most important is that we challenge ourselves to want to solve the problem at hand.

The thing is, I don't want my children to grow up in a perfect household where they feel as though what they are feeling inside or the way they express themselves is different. I don't want them to think that those feelings or emotions are abnormal in any way and that somehow this makes them a bad person. One day they will grow up and start friendships, be in and out of relationships, and hopefully there will come a time where they too will experience the wonderful joy of having children. They will go through the same emotions and feelings that typical couples go through, and they will deal with the same hardships and challenges that many of us have faced and continue to face throughout life.

So to seek a form of perfection based on this dream that I have built up in our house surrounding our family is just not something that I want for them. Nor desire to work for anymore.

Instead, I simply want to show my children that we should always strive to being better every day. A better human being. I think that our children have already made us better in their short time here on Earth with us, but that we certainly have so much more learning and growing to do. I want them to see that we may make mistakes because we are human. We make mistakes because we are natural born sinners. We make mistakes because that is the only way for us to work through our problems and to figure out what to do better next time. And sometimes, we make mistakes so that those around us, those that love us the most, will learn from us.

I will never get it right the first time. 
I may not even get it right the second time. 
But one thing is for certain, and that is---I will always admit my mistakes, teach my children to talk it out, and show them all the ways to being a good person instead of the one way to being a perfect one.

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  3. YES! Yes to all of this. Honestly, I can't even read the posts and articles that everyone shares on Facebook anymore because if I did, I'd learn that EVERYTHING WE DO IS WRONG! It's like we just can't win these days. Encourage your children, but not too much….Buy BPA free, oh wait - even BPA is bad now….even good old milk has a bad rap these days! Ugh…it's all just so frustrating!


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