Most of the parents that I know are way too hard on themselves and constantly worrying about their abilities as a parent. We check our children’s grades and if we consider them below standard than we wonder what we have done to fail them. We look at their messy rooms and think “where did I go wrong?” More than once I have noticed a toddler throwing a tantrum at the grocery store and have noticed a sense of embarrassment on their mother’s face.
I had a moment a last year that put some perspective on the idea of being a “perfect parent.” I was planning a birthday party for my daughter Lizzie, who was turning ten, and majorly stressing myself out. I had plans to make a Darth Vader cake for her and spent an entire night preparing. It was a disaster. Before my kids got up the next morning, I hid it in the corner of the kitchen and made plans in my head to start over the next night. After she woke up, she came into my room and said, “I saw my cake!” I quickly started apologizing to her and said, “I know it’s messed up, I’m going to make you another cake tonight.” She said something at that moment I’ll never forget and I have to sometimes refer back to when I’m having an “I’m a bad parent moment” as I like to call them. She said, “I love it! It doesn’t have to be perfect, mommy.” I realized that I was stressing out everyone else in the house over a moment that was supposed to be happy and fun. Our kids don’t want the perfect birthday cake. They want their birthday to be a fun day. They don’t expect perfect parents, they just want happy parents.
I’m not going to lie and say that I never stress out about small things like making a perfect birthday cake anymore. I do. It’s human nature to stress out about things that are important to us (and what is more important to us than our children?). However, it has become easier for me to stop expecting things to be a certain way and get upset when they’re not. If we don’t have time to carve pumpkins, Halloween can still be an exciting holiday. The years we don’t make homemade sugar cookies, Christmas is not ruined. We’re all just doing the best that we can and our kids see it!
Don’t beat yourself up, your kids see you trying, and that’s enough!
Written by: Christine Clark, Assistant Director