Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Parenting: 5 Reasons Why You're Good Enough

I don't know about you, but I struggle constantly with not feeling like I'm, well...enough. Fit enough. Pretty enough. Smart enough. Kind enough. Funny enough. And especially when it comes to parenting, I just never feel quite good enough. There is always someone who is doing a much better job than I am. They are happier. They are better at discipline. Their kids are doing better in school.  Their kids are eating healthier. Their kids aren't throwing tantrums in the grocery store. Their kids are going to bed...ever. You get the point. We live in a culture where, more than ever before, we have instant access to everyone else's triumphs. Instant. And it is everywhere. Go ahead, try to avoid it. It can't be done. It used to be that it was only at the park, or at church, or at Mommy & Me gatherings that we would be subjected to everyone else's sundry parenting successes. Not anymore. Now it's on Facebook. And Instagram. And a million different blogs. And human interest stories. And please. PLEASE. Do not get me started on Pinterest.

It used to be that we would have to smile and grit our teeth and listen to our friends and neighbors talk about Chloe's citizenship award or how soon baby Noah started walking."I just turned around, and there he was. Walking past all of the childproofed cabinets right to my bag of organic dehydrated apple slices! I couldn't believe it. He's only 27 weeks old!!" Yes, that was bad enough. But now, now all we have to do is pick up our phone or turn on our tablet or start working on the computer and we are inundated with how much better at parenting everyone in the world is than we are. Now the voices aren't just patronizing and sickly sweet, now they are yelling and demanding our attention:

Hair. Hair?? Did I even brush my daughter's hair this morning before she went to school? Did I even see her this morning before she ran out the door?? Oh please don't let today be the day she disappears, I totally could NOT tell you what the last thing she was seen wearing was. A dress? Pants? A skirt?? Nope. No idea.

Dinner? Let's just not even go there. I think last night was fend-for-yourself-night at my house. Just like the night before. And probably tonight will be too. But I'm pretty sure we still have corn dogs. And maybe some Apple Jacks.

"LOOK AT MY KID'S FABULOUS SCIENCE PROJECT THAT HE DID ALL BY HIMSELF!" I don't know what the actual science project looked like. I didn't get that far before I stopped following that person.

Without rehashing any more of my own parental shortcomings, you get the point right? Today's world is full of ways for us to feel worse about ourselves. Just in case the old ways weren't enough. But I have learned some things in my almost 19 years of being a parent. One of those things is never buy Moon Sand. And another one of those things is: You Are Good Enough. You are. And let me tell you why.

#1. Because You Are Worried That You're Not Enough
You are, aren't you? Just a little bit of you wonders sometimes if you are helping, doing, and being enough. You compare yourself to other parents. And sometimes you think you fall short. Guess what? You don't. Just the fact that you are worried about what kind of parent you are means that you want to be better and do more. And that proves that you are good enough.

#2. Because You Are Doing Your Best
Your best is not someone else's best. It just isn't. And there is at least one thing that you do that your kids are convinced you do better than anyone else in the world. The way you hold them, the way you laugh, the way you make pancakes for dinner. And let's face it, maybe you don't have it in you to give 100% of yourself 100% of the time. It doesn't matter. The times when it counts, you DO give 100%. Because you're a parent. And that's what you do. And that makes you good enough.

#3. Because You Worry About Them
You worry that they are unhappy. You worry that they eat too much. You worry if they won't eat. You worry if they cry. You worry if they are disobedient. You worry if they are behind. You worry that you are ruining them with your (sometimes) epic parenting fails. You know what kind of parents worry about their kids? Parents who are good enough.

#4. Because They are Happy
They aren't always happy. And they aren't always happy with you (further proof that you're doing your job well.) Their clothes aren't always clean. Their rooms aren't always clean. They don't always like what you made for dinner. They don't always like your discipline. But they are happy. Even in the midst of terrible twos and adolescent angst, there are those moments when they are truly and genuinely happy. And when they are unhappy, you give them a safe place to be unhappy and to be and say how they feel. Do you know why? Because you are good enough.

#5. Because They Love You
You might embarass them. You might make rules they absolutely hate. You might miss an occasional game or concert or even their first step. But you are someone who won't judge them. You are someone they can trust. You are someone who loves them unconditionally. And they love you. You are good enough. And don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

How Many Times Can We Break Til We Shatter

We hear much about the resilient and indomitable human spirit. It is true. We as human beings are a truly durable and unshakable bunch. We can take a punch. And get back up again. It's in our nature. This doesn't mean that things don't break us. They do. Life is full of things that can rip at our psyche and all but destroy our spirit. But we heal. The human spirit is even more miraculous than the human body when comes to its healing abilities. Sometimes, it seems, too much so. Things that should break us completely and force us to be obliterated somehow mend. We break, we crack, we split almost in two, but we never quite reach the point of shattering. Somehow we always come back. Even when it seems like we shouldn't.

It has gotten me to wondering lately about the how and why of it all. We endure a lot, we human beings. Sometimes it seems we endure too much. Just thinking of some of the things we withstand is pretty overwhelming. Many of these brutal and unmerciful situations are just a natural part of life. We lose a loved one to death: a friend, a parent, a spouse, a child. We fail at things.We love someone who doesn't love us back. We lose our health. We age. Other conditions we do not all have to suffer, but far too many of us do. We are abused: physically, mentally, or emotionally. We are harassed, bullied, and berated. We get divorced and families are ripped apart. We are neglected and alone. People we love don't trust us, or treat us badly. We struggle: financially, physically, or psychologically. Some of these situations are not even always 100% negative. Like our children growing up. It's hard. We want this for them. It's what it supposed to happen. But it still cracks us, just a little bit. And probably them too.

I've been working on this post for a long time and since I started it, my dear brother-in-law lost his dad and just this week I received word that a cherished friend of mine, with two young children, lost her husband. All I can think is: It's too much. It is simply too much. We shouldn't be able to bear it. How do we get up and go on? Why? Why do we get up and go on? Why do we possess this ability to take such a beating without completely shattering? I consider myself to be a person of great faith, but sometimes even for me, it just seems to be too much.

But I believe there must be a reason we are built this way. A reason we heal and go on, even when it seems we shouldn't. Maybe it is to make us into the person we were meant to be. Maybe it is so that we can be there for friends and loved ones who are broken and need us to love and understand them. Maybe it is simply so that we know we can survive and go on. Maybe it's a combination of all of these things.

I'm no expert on the subject. I myself feel fractured in one way or another almost every day. But I haven't shattered. Not completely. Not yet. And perhaps that's the point. The knowing that we won't be annihilated. Th knowledge that all of us are a little bit broken. All of us sustain damage. But all of us keep pushing forward. Even when we sometimes wish it wasn't so. We are fragile. We are vulnerable. But we will not be shattered.