Every day I start with new resolve to parent in a manner worthy of the beautiful little souls God has entrusted to me: with respect, dignity, acceptance, joy, love, grace, forgiveness, security, trust, compassion, authenticity, peace, creativity, enthusiasm...(simple, right? Ha!) And every day I fail. And so it will continue every day, because the goal of being a perfect mother is decidedly out of reach.
You might think an unattainable goal would leave me, and every other mother for that matter, feeling defeated. And some days it does. But there's a secret that the world doesn't tell us, a secret that changes everything: Fulfillment is in the process, not the product.
A successful parent isn't measure by the final product. In fact, we can do it all "right" and still end up falling short if what we're striving for is a toddler who shares, a teenager who doesn't smoke, or straight A's on a report card. Successful parenting is much more fluid and ambiguous than that. It's an intimate, undefinable connection, a relationship that can't be summed up in words. It's a catalog of never-finished, always in-progress immeasurables that can't be checked off a list: Empathy, confidence, respect, self-worth, stability, integrity...these are the things I long for when I dream of the present and future for my children.
Life is messy, and the closer you get to people, the messier it gets. I can't think of a more intimate relationship than that of a mother to a child. You will make mistakes - lots of them. You will do many of the things on your "I'd never" list. You will cause heartache in the very same little beings you are so madly in love with. And you will feel inadequate, probably daily.
But if in the midst of all of that you can remain present - with yourself and with your children - you will reach the unattainable goal. You will be *their* perfect mother, the one who never stops trying to be better for them.
So I'm embarking on this never-ending journey in writing at the dawn of 2011 so that I have a tangible, daily reminder to stay present and focused on the goal of positive parenting. Also so that on the days I need encouragement, I can look back and see how far I've come. So that someday, when my children are regaling me with tales of my shortcomings, I can point them here and say, "I tried my best." And finally, in the hopes that some other mother who may happen upon it will no longer feel alone in her failures and inadequacies, and may even offer herself some much needed grace.
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