My experience as a parent to three unique and wonderful children has blessed me with the greatest joys, and leveled me to my deepest sorrows. I can remember when each of them were younger, and I am flooded with sweet memories – of their first steps, and first words; of how carefully I attended to each of their needs. I’m not sure if I’ve consciously chosen to forget the late nights, comforting a tiny teething tyrant of a toddler, whose lung strength rivaled that of an olympian – sustaining entire nights of screaming; or if perhaps my subconscious mind has kept me from dwelling on the difficulties of the past, shading my memories with rose colored glasses, so that I can manage the new daily challenges present with being the parent of teenagers.
I assure you, friend, if given the chance I would take a temper tantrum in the toy aisle all over again, in lieu of the emotional distress and deep physical danger felt while teaching my oldest son Caleb how to drive. I would welcome singing the same Disney song for the 200th time a day, over a cold gaze from behind Chloe’s tinted hair, and the dead silence of a moody tween. I’d love it if my youngest son Christian would simply cuddle with me on the couch again, instead of the cold glow of the dang iPad.
As my children continue to grow, I continue to be challenged by all the roles that come along with being a parent. I am their mother, teacher, provider, advocate, cheerleader, disciplinarian, and – sometimes to their dismay – a subpar short order cook. The list could go on and on, but as I think about all the hats I wear as a parent, I become quickly overwhelmed, and can almost immediately identify all the ways in which I am falling short. My husband carries a pocket knife every day. Except, it’s not just a pocket knife – it’s pliers, and a screwdriver, and a bottle opener… you get the idea. He often says, it’s not perfect at any one thing, but it’s pretty good at a lot of things.
Is anyone perfect at parenting?
I am not perfect.
I am not a perfect person, and no matter how hard I try I will always fall short of someone else’s expectations of me. Even worse, I am not always the person I really want to be. Wow. That was a really difficult sentence to type, and even more difficult to accept in my heart and mind. Thinking about this logically though, if being a perfect individual is a ridiculous and unattainable goal, how much more insane is it to strive for perfection as a parent? What then, should I do? Throw in the towel and settle and accept that, “this is just the way I am?” Should I criticize and judge those around me who seem to be getting it right? Can I blame others for my shortcomings and live a life constantly comparing? Not today! I’m actually pretty good at a lot of things.
So here’s what I know. While I am not perfect, I am not willing to settle when it comes to the life I want my children to have. If I cannot singularly contain everything that I want for my children, then I am going to find those who will help fill the gaps; like their teachers, for example. While I am a teacher – and a darn good one if I might toot my own horn – remote learning taught me I am not the best teacher for Christian. Shout out to Ms. Cynthia, Ms. Hannah, and Ms. Christine! I will lean on your expertise as educators and trust you to fill in where I simply cannot.
It takes a village of parents, teachers and many others
Let’s trust the educators! They love our kids, and are their cheerleaders and champions in the classroom. I’ll continue to surround myself with people who bridge my gaps, even when it feels like a blow to my ego, because I know it’s what’s best for my kids. I’ll continue to find the teachers, leaders, parents, and even cooks who can help me with my shortcomings, and work harder to be a better person and parent – every tomorrow. Being a parent isn’t about being perfect; it’s about constantly trying to perfect how you parent.
And sometimes I’m gonna fail, but in the words of the great Ted Lasso, “You know what the happiest animal in the world is? It’s a goldfish. It’s got a 10 second memory. Be a goldfish.”
Katelyn Ewing is a teacher with New Morning School in Plymouth, MI. She can be reached at email@example.com.