This letter is a reminder. Not just to everyone else, but to myself as well.
Please ask yourself the following questions. Do you have a range of emotions on any particular day? Do you always get enough rest or food? Do you always behave and act appropriately in each and every situation you encounter? Do you always have a good attitude? Even about things you’d rather not do? Do you say things you wish you could take back? Do you always exercise self-control? Always? Especially when it’s something you really want? Do you make bad decisions sometimes? Do you give of your things selflessly? To people you don’t know? Do you greet each and every person pleasantly? Do you ever spill things or break things accidentally? Do you make mistakes?
So, now that you’ve answered these questions? Are you asking too much of your children? Are your expectations for their actions and behavior unreasonable? I mean, if you as a grown adult can’t act perfectly all of the time, in front of everyone in every situation-then why on earth do we expect this of our children? They are young-they haven’t been in the world that long and they are learning. Learning means that they are not going to do things perfectly every time, they aren’t going to always do it the way you want on the first time. And to expect them to is ridiculous.
It is OK if your child has a bad day, gets grumpy, doesn’t want to do something, forgets, has an accident, makes a mess, is inefficient, is not always articulate, gets angry, cries, throws a fit, has a meltdown, etc. Children are human beings and have the whole range of emotions that adults have-they just don’t understand it as well. Not all adults understand their emotions either. Give your child the opportunity to just be. To have their feelings, wants, needs, space, time, etc without having to structure and monitor every single second. It’s not a reflection on you as a parent if your 4 year-old doesn’t like the lunch you made and proceeds to cry. It’s really ok. This parenting thing isn’t really all about you anyway. You have the job of being selfless, sacrificial, laying your life down and no longer being a selfish narcissist. It’s not about your magazine-worthy or pinterest-worthy living room or their neatly organized perfect little room. Life is messy, people are messy and children are especially messy. Learn to laugh-especially at yourself, especially when you are acting like an ogre because YOU are not getting YOUR way. I think if we are honest with ourselves-there is very little difference between the parent and the 4 year-old. Quit expecting your children to be convenient. If parenting has taught you anything, it’s that children are not convenient. Ever. At all. Neither should they be. They are people. Parenting is not about how you look to other parents, how your children make you look in public or at the play group. Parenting is not about you. It’s about helping these children blossom, helping to show them about the joy and the good in life, about living what we want them to be, about appreciating who they already are. Parenting is one of the most humbling adventures. It is holy work. Often thankless. But let’s not make it harder than it has to be. Be kind. Be warm. Be the parent you would want to have. Show love. Always show love. Ask yourself what love looks like in the moments when your inner ogre shows itself. As a guide-love is patient, kind, not boastful or proud, not envious, not slanderous, doesn’t rejoice in evil, takes delight in the good, doesn’t get angry easily, keeps no track of wrong, believes the best, hopes, trusts, protects, perseveres. Because if you don’t live out that love for your child to feel…all the words you have will be meaningless.
a mom who needs to be reminded too