“This parenting thing is hard,” I posted tearfully on Facebook after an emotionally and physically exhausting day.
“Only if you’re doing it right,” responded my cousin.
I sobbed when I read the words. I knew they were true.
We all have moments where we sit down, close our eyes, let the tears roll down our cheeks, and convince ourselves we are screwing everything up. We’re not good enough. Our kids deserve better. Other parents have their shit together.
But here’s the truth – You’re not failing as a parent. Here’s how I know.
You’re questioning it
First of all, the fact that you are worried about it means that at the bare minimum you care. You are worried you are failing because you are invested in your children’s welfare and happiness. It matters more to you than anything, and we always worry more about the things that matter most.
No one finds parenting easy
Parenting is freakin’ hard! I don’t care if you have high-needs children, or the best-behaved children on earth, parenting is exhausting!
No one has it easy. Even Jesus took off on Mary and Joseph without telling them where he was when he was twelve. It feels like we are the only one struggling, but we really aren’t. If you find a parent who says parenting is easy, call them a liar to their lying liar face.
Social media is a finished product
Have you ever gone on YouTube and watched the behind the scenes videos of movies being made? Have you looked at the long list of credits, even on short films that are, like, five minutes long? What about bloopers, you know you have watched those.
None of that makes it into the finished product.
A two hour movie or a half hour TV show takes an incredible amount of less glamourous stuff going on off-camera. The same is true for social media. Have you ever taken a picture of your toddler’s goofy smile, cropped out all the crap strewn about your living room, and posted it commenting, “Such a cutie,” when the truth is this cutie has been screaming for the better part of the day, and you just finished losing your shit?
So have your friends.
Your parents had no idea what they were doing either
My mom once mentioned that she felt so guilty about how often she yelled at us when we were kids. I had no idea what she was talking about. I didn’t remember her ever yelling, and she always seemed to have things under control. She was perfect. Guess what though – she was positive she was failing as parent too.
Your kids prefer you over anyone
It’s true. Yes, they give you the hardest time – because you are their safe place. They lose it on you because they know you will love them anyway.
They might seem like they are more excited to see other people, but it’s simply because those people are novel and reserved for fun.
I promise you, when the chips are down, it’s you they want. When they fall and scrape their knee at the park, who do they run to? When they wake up in the night, who do they call? It’s one of their parents every time.
Trust me on this, I was a preschool teacher. Parents always thought their kids preferred us – but they talked about you all day long. You are their anchor in this big scary world.
You have never done anything perfectly
It’s true. Sure, you have things you are good at, but they all required some work and practice. Why would parenting be any different? Why do we expect ourselves never to fumble? And parenting is even harder because the goal posts are always moving and everything is always transitioning. It’s like trying to do a puzzle but the picture on the box keeps changing.
You are not failing. You might be struggling, and when that happens, it is perfectly fine and normal and encouraged to reach out for help from friends, family, and even professionals – but you are not failing. You are still in the game. You are still giving it your all (even in the moments you need a break and half-ass it a little.) Take a deep breath. Give yourself some slack. Just keep doing you.