Letting go of perfection. I had an hour long FaceTime conversation with a friend yesterday. It was glorious, uninterrupted, and just what my heart needed. Even though we now live 3 hours away from each other, we didn’t skip a beat. It had been a while since we had last talked and we spoke all about what had been going on in our lives and the lives of the ones we love in our homes.
Talking about our kids, I see a small glimpse of admiration sigh on her face. I knew what she was thinking…your kids have it together. Oh sweet friend, I’m in the trenches just like you. That next 20 minutes I told her stories of the last year and a half. Stories filled with what would look like I’m the worst parent in the world. Things we’ve endured that I don’t wish upon any parent.
You could literally see her face relax as she realized we’re all there. We’re all in the depths of trying to raise God loving, people loving, responsible human beings and it’s hard. Your body and mind both take a toll but the thing is, we get up and keep going. That’s what matters.
I’ve said this plenty of times, but social media can be a tricky little thing. Adoring images of little babies tucked in their perfect nurseries, dinner tables filled with amazing food surrounded by candlelight, and pumpkin carving on a brisk fall evening. What you don’t see (unless you follow the right people) is that toddler just lost his s*** because he didn’t get to use the knife himself, or that teenager just spilled an entire glass of water all over the table at dinner and almost burnt the house down.
This beautiful little cherub has an absolute meltdown after this cureated image.
My younger kids love to tell the story of when mom ran a red light because she almost crapped her pants or the time when I pushed my then pre-teen in front of a flying bird and slammed the door behind him (they still laugh so hard at that one. Don’t judge…I don’t like wild birds flying towards my head lol), or the time my oldest son yelled at the top of his lungs that my “butt smelled like poop” at a swim park while waiting in line for a ride.
Because the truth is, we like to think we’re doing a good job. We believe that when our kids fail, it’s due to our lack of parenting skills. In the same arena, when our kids are thriving, we boast and think yeah, I’m doing it right.
Parenting will always be a juggling act. As soon as you think you’ve got this gig down, one of those precious beings will put you right back in your place. The place of humbleness.
Don’t mistake my words for the lack of time spent with your kids being invaluable. We pour everything we have into these children we’ve been blessed to raise, but sometimes they do stupid things. Sometimes they make bad choices. Sometimes they have to learn the hard way.
That has no reflection on how well you are parenting, that shows you they are human as well. They are going to fail, fall, and disappoint you. It’s not if it will happen but when. You are going to ride that wave, love them hard, and learn every step of the way with them.
WHAT CAN YOU DO
I’ll occasionally get asked what we do as a family to help foster positive relationships with our kids. Here are the top 5 things I say…
Have dinner together every single night. No, not propped up in front of the tv. I’m talking sit down, tv off, phones gone dinner every single night. But my kids do so many extracurricular activities that we can’t do that. Well maybe it’s time to scale back. If you can’t find 30 minutes of your day to sit down and have a real conversation with your family, maybe it’s time to reevaluate. What if they did just one sport this season?
LOOK THEM IN THE EYES
Seem simple right? Do you know how many times my kids have wanted to tell me a story and I’ve been preoccupied with something? I have to practice this skill every single day. Do I want to hear the millionth time about which Pokemon is the best? Of course not, but it’s important to them. If they can’t trust me to really listen to them about that, how can they trust me to listen to the big stuff one day?
BRING UP HARD SUBJECTS...OFTEN
This is a big one for me. I talk about all the things with my kids. Sex, diseases, protection, drugs, bullying, not following the crowd, all of it! Now, obviously not with the younger two yet, but the older two will tell you immediately that I’m in it. My oldest son will probably say that I talk about it too much. I don’t care. These kids know they can ask me anything at any time and it’s often. I’m not mentioning it once and think they got it. It’s a constant discussion.
I AM NOT THEIR FRIEND...YET
Our job as parents is to guide their souls. I’m not here to be their friend. I’m here to teach them how to love, laugh, build responsibility, resilience, determination, and to beat to their own drum.
There will come a day when the parenting role will shift and an unbelievably amazing friendship with your children will come to fruition. I know this. My oldest daughter and I have the kind of relationship I had always dreamed of. Now, did it happen when we were setting boundaries and enforcing rules? Gracious alive no. But those were all the building blocks.
Parents, I’m giving you the pass to be all up in their business. Who are they hanging out with at school? Find out. Need to look through their phone? GO FOR IT! Afraid they’ll get mad? Who the heck cares. Our job is to guide and protect our children. I’ll get off my soap box now lol.
I mess up all the time. Everyday. I yell too much, snap too quickly, and my attitude can really just suck sometimes. Why would I think children wouldn’t be the exact same way? Kids have horrible no good bad days just like adults. Extend some grace. No, I’m not talking about ignoring blatant disrespect, but I am saying to take a moment to breathe before you lash out at that behavior.
More times than I care to admit, I have gone to my children and said the words I’m sorry. It’s an amazing thing apologizing to your kids. You can literally see relief in those little eyes. Admitting you were wrong show them that you are not only human, but you can own up to your wrong doings. It teaches them they can too.
Can you tell that conversation I had yesterday stirred something in me? This is my jam. Telling parents that life isn’t perfect, everyone has something shoved into the closet, and life can sometimes be overwhelming is my JAM! Give yourself grace today friends.