In my line of work as a childcare/preschool Administrator, I work with many parents of young children. As a parent of two myself, I can completely relate to their struggles.
This was not always the case.
Years ago, before I had my own children (which is of course when one possesses the most kick-ass parenting skills) I was a caregiver for a group of toddlers at a local preschool. I can remember having a good laugh one day when my coworkers and I looked in a child’s bag for spare clothing and found nothing but a tutu. His parents were good natured, and later they had a good laugh along with us, but I know there was a certain amount of judgement on my part. I’m sure I was thinking something like…
“A tutu? Really? That’s all this poor kid has for spare clothes?”
Because, after all, what is so hard about sending your child to school every day with everything you’re asked to bring? How hard could this parenting (or this parenting plus career) thing be?
To those parents, and to all parents that I, in my ignorant bliss, judged, I sincerely apologize.
Here’s a quick list of things I thought I’d never do…
Forget my child’s lunchbox at home.
Send my child with her lunch in a huge cooler because I ordered the pretty flowered lunchboxes too late.
Arrive at school with no spare clothing for my child (not even a tutu).
Carry my child into daycare kicking and screaming.
Carry my child out of daycare kicking and screaming.
Send the wrong lunch with the wrong child, inadvertently smuggling a peanut butter grenade into a nut free zone.
Remember the store bought Christmas gifts for my children’s teachers, but misplace the gifts that were actually made for them by my daughters.
Find aforementioned handmade gifts in February and enthusiastically present them to my daughters to give to their teachers as Valentine’s Day gifts.
So many times I have had parents apologize to me in some form or another for something they perceive as a parenting fail.
To them I say –
No parent I know is aiming to fail at parenting. We all love our children. They are our hearts and souls. So, repeat after me…
I am doing my best.
We are all doing our best.
I know, sometimes our best feels shitty. We feel like we have phoned it in, lost the plot, dropped the ball…
We don’t live up to our own expectations.
I have a couple of things to say about that –
First of all, if you care enough to feel like a failure, chances are your kids feel really loved.
Think about it. You obviously love them a whole heck of a lot to be putting so much pressure on yourself. Stop apologizing for being a human being, doing the very hard work of raising other tiny human beings.
Second, if you’re lucky you’ll get to do it all over again tomorrow.
Let’s face it, for many years parenting is kind of like Groundhog Day – you’ll have another opportunity to do things differently tomorrow…and the next day…and the next.
Every day you’ll do the best you can do that day.
That’s all you can do.
Be kind to yourself. It’s contagious.