Does hearing how others fail miserably really make us feel better about our faults or is this like a scene out of Jaws where we all compare our scars to see who has the biggest one of all?
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Every day we fail at parenting in some way.
It’s not mommy brain. It’s not because we are the doofus dad. Here’s an awful truth we must all face: We are human and we are going to make a ton of mistakes. Parenting is hard.
I recently sat in a meeting with other parents, mostly moms, quietly listening to them tear themselves down. They seemed to think that they qualified for “Parent of the Year” based on all the ways they had failed their children.
Her kids were up early asking for pancakes with blueberries but she was struggling just with pouring the over-sugared cereal before she had her morning coffee.
The bus was coming, another one said, and none of her children could find their shoes.
This one’s son had a big project due today that he conveniently forgot about and instead she let him play video games all day yesterday.
My parents weren’t perfect. They used to chase me around the dining room table trying to get me to swim lessons. They probably watched me flounder in the deep end, wondering if the lessons were really paying off. Well, you know what? Someone throw me a lifesaver because sometimes it feels like I’m drowning.
Perfection and parenting mix like water and oil yet we have this weird obsession with doing everything just right for our kids. We want to show up to the bake sale with homemade muffins that every kid, despite their allergies, wants to eat. We want our kids to have MIT-worthy science projects. But that is not realistic and definitely not possible.
Always wanting perfection puts this undue pressure on ourselves while also sending a message to our children that anything short of flawless is a failure. We then feel guilty when our focus isn’t completely on the kids, and channel those feelings of self-loathing into this parental superpower. It’s no wonder so many of us feel inadequate.
And, to me, saying I am the “worst parent ever” so someone else can build me up doesn’t help with my confidence. Does hearing how others fail miserably really make us feel better about our faults or is this like a scene out of Jaws where we all compare our scars to see who has the biggest one of all? The truth is, we all need a bigger boat.
We used to be so fixated on ourselves before we had kids. We were the priority. When the kids came along, we shifted that attention to them and when things don’t do completely right, we feel a sense of failure. Athletes fail and work harder to improve. Scientists experiment then go back to the drawing board. Why do we, as parents, think parenting would be any different?
We fail so we can get back up.
We fail because we are human.
We fail because “parent of the year” is an unattainable goal.
So when the kids are napping, do something for yourself for a change. Don’t feel guilty about it. Your children will show up soon enough asking for snacks and whining about something. Binge-watch Netflix without guilt. Play video games until your eyes are bloodshot. You deserve it because no one is a perfect parent.