Every morning, I pull into the parking lot at our preschool, take a deep breath, put on a smile and hop out of my truck.
I wave at the other parents and inconspicuously take notice about how they act with their kids. Everyone has their ‘happy hats’ on and it feels like we’re shooting a commercial.
I unbuckle Mason, pull him into my side and Ava and Charlie hop down to the sidewalk, as I hoist backpacks onto their little shoulders. We all hold hands, laugh and maybe even pick a dandelion or admire an earthworm on our way into the school lobby. All of the parents and kids congregate here, until 9:15am, when we walk them down the hall to their classrooms.
We make small talk and ask each other ‘How are you?’ and ‘How’s your morning going?’ and the answer is almost always the same. ‘I’m great’ OR ‘Super, isn’t is beautiful outside?’ are the go-to responses that I use.
No one wants to let their guard down, no one wants to come across as vulnerable.
I’m not pointing fingers, because I do the same thing.
I don’t want anyone to know that just 25 minutes earlier, I’d completely lost my shit, screaming at the top of my lungs as Ava and Charlie had a ‘hair pulling battle royale’ and used Legos like brass knuckles to punch each other. I felt that no one needed to know that I couldn’t chase down the Boston Terrier to put him in his house and that Mason stumbled around the corner with a mouthful of dog food.
I didn’t want anyone to criticize me.
Do any of these smiling parents in the lobby of my kids school act like me sometimes?
Do they occasionally get so overwhelmed that they walk onto the front porch alone, counting to ten, silently, while doing improvised breathing exercises?
Do they sometimes (like me) act like Jodie Foster and treat their bathroom like a panic room and curl up on the floor in the fetal position, barricading the door with their bodies?
I don’t know about you, but I really TRY and do my best as a parent. I want to, I have to, for the sake of my kids. I guess at the end of the day, I just hope that the GOOD I’ve done with them significantly outweighs the BAD…and I truly think it does.
If I’m yelling, it’s because I care, plus, you were trying to pull the slacks off an old lady at the flea market. If I grab your arm and mildly jerk you back into me, it’s because I care – and also I didn’t want you touching a public toilet seat rim. I think my kids understand that.
And please – don’t get me wrong, I’m probably too hard on myself.
I love hugging my kids, giving them positive reinforcement, complimenting their achievements and giving that kiss on the forehead as they go off to school.
Whether you stay at home or go to work, I think that parenting is one of the toughest gigs out there.
Some people may laugh and disagree – they may assume that me staying at home with my kids all day is a cakewalk and that I should just stop my bitching and that’s fine, I know the truth.
The reality is that, parenting, on either end of the spectrum is a job that never ends.
When all three of my kids are asleep late at night and I lie awake staring at the ceiling fan counting it’s rotations, I question myself.
I wonder if I’m doing a good job.
There’s no parenting report card, there’s no 6-month evaluation with your boss and your husband, wife or partner may not feel the need to give you positive feedback, because you’re just doing what you’re supposed to be doing – you shouldn’t need a pat on the back.
Some of our kids are either too young to talk or too old to want to communicate what we’re doing right or wrong – so we’re left to follow our gut, our instinct.
We’re all extremely critical of one another and I’m guilty of it, too.
We’re constantly judging, making assumptions based on only seeing part of a situation. We cut each other down and scold one another on Facebook for not having the chest-clip up high enough on our car seat or comment on how it’s inappropriate that a 5-year old needs a binky to fall asleep. Everyone is an expert.
Maybe it’s time for a change.
Maybe it’ll only last a day, a week or a month, but let’s give it a shot.
Let’s take a minute and consider complimenting one another on what we’re #doingood – Let’s give another parent that well-deserved pat on the back and let them know that they’re doing an amazing job as mom or dad.
I’m hoping that you share this post with a parent in your life that you admire.
Send it to your brother, sister, family member or friend. Send them an unexpected note and let them know that you care, you notice their love and devotion and applaud them.
I’m hoping that you’ll comment on this post – tell me a short story about someone close to you, a parent, that’s #doingood and why.
Next week, I’ll randomly pick the one and give you a $250 VISA gift card.