“Four children,” people say to me. “Wow, you must be an expert on parenting!,”
Truthfully – I am totally not. Sure, four kids definitely brings some perspective to certain types of first-time parenting struggles, but honestly – most days I still feel like, ten years on in this journey – I have no fucking idea what I am doing.
I think for the most part; conscious parenting is a mix of calculated research with a fair amount of “well, let’s give this a shot!” thrown in.
Some problems come along and I may know how to tackle them, and do so with great efficiency, while I smugly think to myself what a pro I am at this whole parenting thing. Then other days those same problems come up again, so I do what I did before – to no avail. So I’m back right at the beginning where I started from: absolutely clueless, randomly trying a few different strategies here and there with a bunch of random attempts at managing thrown in.
Honestly there is no such thing as a perfect parent. We all have our ideals about the types of parent we wish to strive for, and the kind of upbringing that we want our children to have and what memories they can look back and draw upon. And that all sounds really lovely – except it isn’t real, or true. Because all of this stuff depends on our children and the individual daily circumstances we find ourselves in. It depends on the mood of our offspring, the weather, our health, the time of day, how much sleep we have had, our relationships with other people etc etc.
The “shoulds” don’t help. The “could haves” don’t help either. I think the best we all can aim for is to try better than we did the previous day, and allow ourselves grace and gentleness when shit doesn’t go to plan, because it often won’t.
So I’m writing this, mainly as a reassurance I guess – to other parents feeling like me.
When you feel like you should have all this shit sorted, and you don’t – it’s okay.
When you feel like you’re giving continually on an empty cup for absolutely no returns – it’s okay.
When you feel like you’re not the type of parent you wish you were able to be – it’s okay.
When you feel like you have absolutely no fucking idea how to overcome the next hurdle – it’s okay.
When you feel like things should be getting better or easier by now, and they aren’t – it’s okay.
I’m telling you it’s okay because I want you to know you are not alone. Feelings of exhaustion, overwhelm, confusion, frustration and complete and utter exasperation are all feelings that all parents have felt from time to time. Maybe I’m writing this for myself, to tell myself that even though the challenges seem endless – it is possible to get through it.
It’s okay to stop. Let some stuff slide. Have a big cry, eat a block of chocolate. Sit and dwell on the sheer hardness of it all, for a while. Allow yourself that time. Because then I know you can pick yourself up, and keep on keeping on. And I am, and I will.
Because honestly – none of us have any idea of what we are doing, really. We are all just winging it, and we are all in this together.