So often parents stretch themselves to the point of exhaustion, frustration, and even sheer rage thinking they’re doing something wrong or that they somehow need to be better at parenting.
It’s never enough. I’m doing my best!
This is what many of us parents say, as if we’re defending our lives on the responsibilities and milestones we think we’re supposed to be accomplishing with the expertise of a trained fighter. There's always more we could be doing to be better parents, right?
But what if your best is already good enough?
What is it parents worry about failing at the most? Not having well-behaved, capable children? Not being able to adequately Juggle jobs, care-taking duties, and relationships? Not keeping up with the laundry?
Do parents worry so much because they’re competing with other parents, or because they’re struggling to live up to their own standard of the kind of parent they think they should be?
Granted, not all parents feel pressure from their parental peers or worry about how they’re parenting, but I would argue that a great handful of parents do feel it.
Otherwise there wouldn’t be so many blogs and articles on the internet letting parents know that being tired and fed up is okay. There wouldn’t be such a desire from parents to relate to one another. There wouldn’t be that comfort factor in knowing you’re not the only one who’s frustrated.
Well, what if we all took a deep collected breath and said to ourselves, right now, my best is good enough.
It’s enough that you gave life to your child or children, and spend each and every day worrying about, caring for, feeding, and clothing them.
Beyond that, you could consider anything else you accomplish as a parent a bonus.
And this is the part where I think so many of us struggle.
Do you remember when you were a kid in school and there were those students in the class (this may have very well been you) who were so good at everything that they got extra credit? Not only did these kids get 100% all the time but they also got extra bonus points on top of it.
I believe many of us parents feel we need to be that kid. The one that has so much extra credit racked up from bonus points that we outrank everyone else and are essentially winning at parenting.
Frankly, if I feel exhausted just doing the basics of parenting (the kids are alive, relatively happy, fed, and clothed) then how must the “over-achiever” parents feel?
Where other parents get their energy for multiple extra curricular activities, tournaments, sleepovers, play dates, and PTA meetings I have no idea and I have to say, kudos to them.
But doing all those extra things is their choice. It’s not necessarily a standard the rest of us parents have to follow.
My point is that any parent out there who is worried they aren’t “keeping up” is probably already doing their best. The fact that a parent worries about their child having enough friends, if they’re well-adjusted, if they’re keeping up in class, or if they spend enough “quality time” with them is evidence of good work already being done. That parent is already on it.
The sleepless nights, endless diapers, whining, potty training, crayon on the walls, bloody noses, fights, sulking, puberty, moodiness and whatever else you can think of that ordinary parents attend to on a daily basis is enough to break even the most patient and compassionate of us all.
Honestly, If you have a loved child who smiles back at you everyday, you’re already winning.
The dedication and energy we put towards worrying about our children is immense. The responsibility of being in charge of human beings who take everything out of you mentally, emotionally, and physically is seriously hard work. This is why parents are so happy to connect and relate to one another.
Many of us parents get so sidetracked by comparing ourselves to other parents, even on our most confident days.
It’s natural to compare. But in the end, we just have to take stock of everything we already have and are already doing for our children. A lot of the time it’s things we don’t want to do. Things that bring us pain and tears. Things that make us want to crawl into a cave and never come out. And other times it’s stuff that puts delicious grins on our children’s faces, light in their eyes, and bubbling giggles in their bellies.
We need to start being more grateful for the children we do have and the parents we already are, instead of feeling like we all need to be more like this or more like that -- because you never know what’s around the corner and everything you complain about today could seem like small peas tomorrow.
We’re all on our own paths in this parenting thing. And for those of parents worried about how your children will turn out or who are feeling the exasperation of parental fatigue -- just know that your best is already good enough.
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