I Know I’m Not A Perfect Parent, I Just Want To Be ‘Enough’

Dearest Daughter,

Today, you woke up at 5 a.m.

You spilled milk on the carpet and dumped a carton of raisins on the kitchen floor. You colored on your bedroom wall, and you screamed in my face — your whole body shook with anger and rage — when I tried to discipline you. When I tried to tell you what you were doing was not acceptable. When I tried to explain why your behaviors were not OK.

Did I mention this was all before 7?

And, if I’m being honest with you, I was furious. I felt angry and broken. I wanted to cry and yell back. I wanted to throw my hands up and walk away. (Heck, part of me wanted to give you a swift pat on the butt.) But I didn’t. Instead, I paused and swallowed hard. Instead, I bent down and leaned forward. Instead, I spoke to you softly and calmly.

(I mean, how could I possibly tell you screaming is unacceptable if I was doing same?)

And, through tears, you listened. You acknowledged your mistakes. You hugged me, and you said “I sowwy.”

“I sowwy, Mommy.”

We quickly went back to playing — you made me a plate of muffins and a cup of tea — and, just like that, the “incident” was behind us. Just like that, things were back to “normal.”

not a perfect parent
I wish I could say things always go this smoothly. I wish I could say I always react with a level-head, and I wish I could say you are always that receptive, but that would be a lie. Sometimes, you scream more. You cry more. Sometimes you kick and hit and even try to bite. And sometimes I do the same — not with biting or hitting — but with my words. With the volume and tone of my voice.

Because I don’t always react the way I want to. I don’t always react the way I need to, and sometimes I make mistakes. Sometimes I mess up.

So what was different about today? Nothing. I mean, maybe the stars were aligned or I had JUST enough coffee in my system to function, but I think I just got lucky.

Today, I took a breath and got lucky.

Parenting is hard, and I am far from perfect. (So, SO far.) But I don’t aspire to be perfect. I don’t aspire to be great, and I don’t even aspire to be good. I just aspire to be enough: enough for myself. Enough for you, my dearest daughter. And enough in each and every moment.

Because I love you. With each and every ounce of my being I love you. Even when I am the one screaming. Even when I am the one saying “I’m sorry.”

2 thoughts on “I Know I’m Not A Perfect Parent, I Just Want To Be ‘Enough’

  • August 16, 2016 at 12:04 pm

    Love this. Every parent (or Aunt, Uncle, Grandma, Grandpa, Brother, Sister, Wife, Husband, Mother, Father, etc) has experienced those moments when we thank our lucky stars that we managed to react in a calm and loving way, rather than allowing our tempers to flare, or our frustration to spin out of control. And we’ve all been on the other side of that situation, too …. when our words are harsh, or loud, or cruel, and we immediately want to take them back, and hug it out, and say sorry.

    The difference between being “enough” and “perfect parenting” is a very thin line sometimes, but thank you for the reminder that a little bit of extra effort and patience will always help us remember just how much we truly love the people we interact with on an everyday basis.

    Being “enough” is an honorable goal. Let’s keep trying to reach it. 🙂

  • August 17, 2016 at 6:45 am

    Oh how I can relate to this. I have days where I somehow am able to keep my cool with Eve the entire day, through fits of telling me she wants something and doesn’t want that very thing at the same time, through epic screaming meltdowns, and flat-out refusal to listen.

    And then there are the days where I lose my cool with her, yell, and do just about the opposite of what you should do to soothe a hysterical 2-year-old.

    Sigh, parenting is tough, but I think it’s knowing that we’re imperfect and realizing we make mistakes — and of course, loving our children — that makes us good parents.

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