“I want to be the person my children will be proud of.” I have heard this phrase before. And as tough decisions must be made, and our entire set of values come into question, I’ve found that this phrase rings through my mind and guides me like a compass. As a parent, I take seriously two main aspects of what I believe my role to be:
1.) To teach by doing
2.) To foster independence from me
Little people see everything we say and do, and when I hear some of the phrases, and see the expressions made, it comes to life often. Most of the time, these are endearing events that make me smile, but every once in a while, I cringe. I am reminded that they see and respond to everything.
Like many parents, I question my quality often. Am I present enough? Do I play with them enough? Do I have enough rules? Are they eating and sleeping as they should? Have I created the right combination of activities? And most of ‘enough’ is not based on much, aside from my own self reflection of what being a good Mom is supposed to be. I have learned, many years into parenting, that the most reliable metric for assessing ‘enough-ness’ is my gut.
When I step back and look at the bigger picture, I ask myself two more questions:
Will this be a positive memory for my kids (also meaning, is this significant enough for them to even remember?) and, are my actions something I would feel proud witnessing them emulate? And most of the time, I can move along feeling like I am on the right path.
But some days are really hard. I question myself, my abilities to manage kids, work, more. And what’s more, I criticize and judge myself. When I have made mistakes, I realize that this is exactly the opportunity to be the person my kids will want to be. I talk to them, I share my feelings, my honesty about how I believe I am showing up to them, and I forgive myself. I trust that they learn that they will make mistakes and be someone they didn’t want to be for a moment, and that we can get back on track together.
While I think parenting can be the toughest job out there sometimes, I often take to heart the words my Dad shared with me when I had my first child, and then again when he knew he was soon going to pass away. He said, ‘Just enjoy them Andrea. Let kids be kids.’ And it really is that simple. So much of what we react to as parents, really is just kids being kids. Which brings me back to the basis of what parenting really should be, and that is making positive memories and being the person our children want to emulate.