I’ve been a parent for about seven and a half years; longer if you count the time I actually spent being pregnant, which I totally will because I may as well get credit for all that barfing.
I knew going into the gig that it was largely an on-the-job training career with little preparation, aside from a four-hour “fast track” childbirth class that I mostly spent giggling my way through and also thinking about lunch because I was starving (as usual).
I knew enough to know that I didn’t know enough, but I also figured that most of us had turned out OK within our own families and in turn, I would most likely turn out OK as a parent.
I truly thought that if I was a generally good person and loved my kids, making sure they knew I loved them by actually saying it out loud, of course, that the rest of the parenting pieces would fall into place. I thought that love would always, always be enough.
But lately, I’ve been wondering if it really is enough.
I won’t get into particulars because my kids are reaching the ages where I’m starting to wonder if pouring out every move they make on the Internet is a solid plan. But essentially, I feel like I’m totally failing as a parent with one child in particular. It’s come to the point where it feels like our lives revolve around the same issue in our house, over and over again, and my husband and I both feel like we have no where left to turn. We have tried different parenting methods and techniques and somehow always wind up back on square don’t-know-what-to-do.
In the back of my mind, I realized that I have been going along, doing the motions of trying to resolve the issue and even when it fails again and again, no matter how discouraged I am, I believed that there is still time. She’s still young and things will get better. She’ll grow a little more, we’ll learn a little more, we will all adjust. But this, our current situation, is not the “real” parenting. The “real” parenting will happen later, when we all snap out of it and things are hunky-dory again.
But then it hit me — what if it doesn’t get better?
What if that point never comes and this is it? What if the actions we are taking right now are the ones that are forming and shaping and molding our kids are the ones that matter, not some distant theoretical place of parenting that I hope to get to someday? What if we’ve already failed and it’s too late?
This is it. The here and the now. And the truth is, it’s really not getting any better.
It’s tempting, especially as a parenting writer, to project the image that doing our best is good enough and that it’s OK to pat ourselves on our backs for doing enough and we’re all imperfect. But now I’m starting to wonder if thought is more harmful than anything. Wouldn’t it really be more beneficial to be honest and assess our strengths and struggles as parents? Obviously we’re not all the same parents to the same kids, so maybe we could all improve by speaking our own dark truths a little bit more?
Hi, my name is Chaunie, and I need help to be a better parent.
Maybe it’s part of parenting children as they grow or maybe it’s part of growing myself. But either way, I’m tired of pretending that I know what to do in every situation. The truth is, I have no idea how to handle the situation we are in right now, and I feel discouraged down to my very soul. I hate feeling like I’m failing and more importantly, I hate feeling like I’m failing my daughter.
But maybe — just maybe — the answer doesn’t lie in being perfect and pretending I have all the answers and that if I just keep the course and continue plodding and praying away, that things will magically fix themselves.
Maybe the answer is in admitting that, you know what?
Sometimes I’m a bad mom.
But maybe that’s exactly the kind of mom I need to be to get better.More On