There are so many articles and books on the perfect parenting skills or ways to help you be the best parent you can possibly be. Advice that swears to get you to the point in your parenting career where you will feel adequate enough to wear the badge with pride. Yes, I said “career” because most days it does feel like one. A vocation where you are judged and graded on every step you take (especially the mistakes) by everyone…including yourself. A job where you sometimes feel like you need to excel and be better than others on the same journey as you. It’s exhausting…
Sure, you start out with all good intention and all the love and care your heart can hold, when you decide to bring a life into this world. Then, at some point, life gets the better of you with all the stresses of everyday life and throws challenges your way that leaves you questioning so much about yourself. A stress which is exacerbated by the fact that your baby/s grow up, they don’t stay young forever. They become opinionated and know better than you (Surprise, surprise…who would have thunk it..?)
Looking at your own parents, it’s easy to identify some of the pitfalls they fell into and moments where they hurt or let you down. It’s easy to point a finger and say that you will never walk that road with your own children. But…and this is a big BUT! Despite the challenges, despite the warnings, we tend to fall into pitfalls of our own. The thing is, we can never truly say that we’ll do the parenting thing better than our parents did with us. It’s not an easy job raising kids, in fact, I think it’s one of THE hardest things I’ve ever done. No parent wants their child to suffer or get hurt on the journey of life, in fact, they want quite the opposite. However, there are no guarantees, no protection and most certainly not against some of the cruellest experiences most people face. I for one know this having fallen prey to this evil…But, being a parent myself, I get it and don’t hold anything against my own parents. None of what happened to me is their fault. How could it possibly be? Whether they know and believe this, I do not know. In the same vein, I can’t be held accountable for the feelings they have in this regard, whatever is associated with it. Sure, the decisions they took had a negative impact on my childhood (in some ways) but it’s all in the past.
There is no way that I can compare my life and “struggles” today to those of my parents or grandparents. And, I’m not trying to in any way except to say that life today comes with its own set of obstacles, equally challenging. I am even confident in saying that no matter how much my husband and I are trying to give our kids a better life or how much we have sacrificed, my kids will no doubt have struggles of their own as parents. Undoubtedly, they too will probably air some grievances about us as their parents in wronging them in some way or the other.
Also, the view I have of my childhood is clearly different to the way my parents perceive it to be.
As parents, we become so focused on giving our kids the best we “think” but in the process, there’s a divide in all our realities. It’s all relative and personal to the holder, based on our experiences at a particular point in time.
I hope and pray one day, if God spares me, that I live to see my grandchildren. And, I hope and pray that I have it in me to break the cycle and accept my children the way that they are, without judgement and without comparison or belittling of their struggles to mine. More importantly, I hope to accept their perceived reality as part of the journey they have travelled, especially if it differs from mine.
It’s become clear to me that we are born into a family unit but ultimately we will end up going into the world to make a life of our own. Do so without judgement or ridicule of the next person…especially yourself.
Just do the best you can.