I just discovered that all my efforts in parenting have been misdirected.
Recently, I coached my oldest through some tricky friendship situations. I thought I did pretty well. I acknowledged that my child wasn’t an innocent little angel who needed to be coddled. I helped him figure out that the world wasn’t going to change to meet his preferred specifications. I helped him with some Life Skills! I was the best mom ever!
Until I wasn’t.
Eldest child came to me and said he was feeling like he couldn’t participate in playing with his friends because they moved on from a game he was enjoying to one that he didn’t know how to play: football. And so he sat on the sidelines. My short reign as Best Mom Ever came to a sudden end because I had failed him when it came to imparting sports skills.
I spent my efforts on friendship skills and completely neglected the sports skills.
Here’s the thing you need to know about the parenting awards- Just as soon as you figure out the rules, they change. By the time you get to the finish line, someone will have moved it.
I’m pretty much over even trying to get the crown.
There was never any chance for me anyway. I was unable to breastfeed my kids. So, according to all I’ve seen in my social media feeds, my kids don’t stand a chance in amounting to anything, being healthy, or having good attachments. I should just hang it up and go home.
It’s silly, isn’t it?
I think I am beginning to realize why there are so many things out there about how we’re failing or not failing our kids and what we should do and what she should never, ever do. Parenting is hard and the stakes are higher in this job than in most others we’ve ever attempted.
We want guarantees. We want to know that if we just do that one thing that one study says, our kids are going to be happy and healthy.
But there are no guarantees in parenting. We can do things to make it easier or harder for our kids, but it’s ultimately out of our hands. I read in a book once that we give parents too much credit for “good” kids and too much blame for “bad” ones. There is truth to that.
If breasfeeding guaranteed healthy babies, we wouldn’t need God.
If good grades guaranteed perfect kids, we wouldn’t need God.
Or rather, THEY wouldn’t need God, right?
Now that I know Ethan is interested in learning how to play football, I’m going to find a way for him to learn enough to join his friends in a casual game. We could have taught him before, but I’m not sure he was interested. When I first saw Ethan struggling with feeling left out because he wasn’t sure how to participate, my immediate thought was that I had failed as a parent and that Ethan was doomed to a life of sitting on the sidelines.
And then I took a deep breath. This isn’t a catastrophe. If Ethan was interested in this at any point before, we would have tossed a football around in the backyard with him. Now we know. We’re doing the best we can with the information we have right now and trying not to worry about what we didn’t know before. I think that’s a healthy way to approach parenting.
Love your kids and do your best with what you know. I can do that.
The only way I’m going to survive parenting is if I approach it with the idea that my kids’ struggles, shortcomings, failures and successes are not mine to carry alone.
Someone else needs to hear that today. The reason the parenting burden is impossibly heavy is because you’re carrying more than you’re meant to bear.
Love your kids and do your best with what you know. You can do that.