failure (is) an option

by humanmama on September 17, 2012

Being a parent is pretty awesome. It’s totally a trial-and-error test of your patience, and kindness, and virtue, most every day, but yet (and this is the strange part–the part that tricks us into having more kids) we still do it, because it’s rewarding. Mostly.

Probably one of the finest hidden gems about parenting is that you don’t have to be perfect. You just have to try your best. These kids are going to be around for a while, if you know what I mean, and so one or two mistakes here and there will be fine, overlooked, when seen in the stew of memories that is a childhood. Being a parent is about failure, and embracing that failure is what makes parents better parents. Learning from the failure is what makes parents truly great parents. Which is a good thing, because there is a lot of failure involved.

*Failure to get the kids up on time, so that you’re screaming in the morning, rushing around, crazy, blaming the kids even. Suddenly you get to where you’re going and as you drop the kids off, you have an epiphany: “It was my fault they were poky, because if I got us all up an hour earlier, we’d be fine.” And luckily, when you pick the kids up again (maybe with cookies from the bakery? Maybe taking them to the playground next?), you feel like a [sheepish, but] better parent.

*Failure to communicate well. Many, many times I myself have been known to yell, or get upset, or become annoyed by something the kids are doing. Later I almost always realize I didn’t communicate effectively–maybe I didn’t mention that in church we need to be quiet. Maybe I forgot to tell them to stay off the carpet with their shoes on. Perhaps the phrase “you do not jump on the furniture at other people’s houses” should have been reiterated 50 times before we arrived at someone else’s house. But hey, just like you do with your partner, after you realize that some of the blame lies in your court, you pretend you weren’t wrong and go on shouting. Ha! No! Just kidding! You apologize for not communicating, state the rules again, and remind your kids that next time you’ll be clearer. And, that next time, they’ll listen or else.

*Failure to remember to listen. Or to play. So many times I find myself cleaning around the kids instead of playing with the kids. It’s terrible. I always think “having a clean house makes me happy!” But on days like this last Saturday and Sunday, when I realized it was 4pm and an absolutely gorgeous early-autumn day and I had spent–no, wasted–the entire day indoors, I dropped my vacuum cleaner and went outside. And, often, when I realize that there has been more texting by my fingers than tickling, I remember to put the damn phone down for a minute and really play. Maybe weekends can be for playing more, and cleaning less. More social interaction and less social networking. I’m sure the kids wouldn’t mind.

Basically, if you can learn from your mistakes, you–YES, YOU!–can be a parent. If you can’t? Well, then, hmm. Maybe…a politician?!

I miscommunicated: you may NOT use stampers on your hands…

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