How to be the Imperfect Parent
If you take a close look at the word Imperfect, it actually spells out “Im perfect”. What I see is how perfection lies within imperfection. Beautiful isn’t it. There is a wisdom that exists within that word, and it speaks to me every day throughout all the areas of my life. It reminds me to let go of any attachment to the idea of perfection and what believe it to be. Once again, my children and the experience of parenthood has offered this insight to me as a relief to my first few years of parenting.
How many times have we drowned ourselves in guilt about one thing or the other; about messing up; about not being the parent that we “should be”. I cannot tell you how many times a week I hear other parents vent about how they are better at their job than their parenting. Or how whatever they did, may mess up their child for the rest of their lives? Some even question if they should have ever even become a parent.
We all rock that boat at one point or another. Personally, I remember the feeling of having to be a perfect mom from the very first time I held my child. Scratch that…I had all these plans about my perfect mothering while I was pregnant – how I was going to do so much better than this friend, or that friend, and even better than my own mom did with me. To be quite honest – I planned to be a better mom from the time I was very young when I noticed what was not working in my own family, and the world around me. And then later on in life… one day, reality hit – I had my first. My beautiful son arrived.
I am naturally competitive, and an over achiever , so I tried really hard to be the perfect mommy to him. Not just because I had to succeed in parenthood as I did in all else, but deep down, I had the fear that he would reject me later in life if I somehow did wrong by him. That I would be blamed for something, and ultimately I would blame myself if he wasn’t living the life he wanted as an adult. I could simply not live with that. And so everything in my life was pushed aside including myself, my husband, and my friends. During that time, my reality was all about my child, and giving him the life that he deserved, and that I knew I can offer him. However, without realizing it, I was also isolating myself, thinking I can do this all alone. Looking back…geez – I had it all wrong.
There was not much team play and partnership allowed for my husband to participate in – aside from just providing for us and jumping in if I had to run an errand, or get some extra sleep. Sure that was all very significant at the time, but he didn’t really have the space to parent as he wanted to. Grandparents were simply an interference for me because I believed that they didn’t understand or didn’t honor my way of parenting, and friends simply didn’t get that I was in a different place in my life and couldn’t hang or be the friend that I was before I had a child. This was all my own story of course.
Experience has showed me the power of partnership, love, community, friendships, and most importantly SELF – LOVE. By honoring all these, balance is somehow slowly restored in your life, as well as acceptance. By honoring your partnership, you allow for so much to grow in your life and family. Not to mention that this creates more time for yourself, so that you can either share special moments with a friend, your community or just yourself. Your like-minded communities will offer a comfort to you and your children that you cannot offer alone. And during the moments that you need a reminder to accept yourself, not judge your actions and to surrender…your relationships will support you.
I found that the only way I can parent anywhere near perfection is by allowing myself to be imperfect. Actually, I had to let go of my need for perfection in all areas of my life. It was then, and only then that I was able to notice what was imperfect. After all, if I consider myself perfect, then there is nothing to improve, right? Where is the growth and expansion there? Perfection is final. No one here is perfect – we are constantly evolving, and so once I accepted that, I was able to take an honest look at what wasn’t working and could improve. Acceptance was the key to my balanced parenting. From there, I gave myself the freedom to fall; to mess up; to make mistakes. It is only through the process of breakdown, that I can actually have a breakthrough. I cannot get to where I would like to go, unless I hit a few bumps on the road.
I have learned to celebrate my breakdowns, because I now have enjoyed the delightful taste of what is waiting for me on the other side – it is growth, and it is a new wisdom, and the next step towards where I am heading. I cannot get there otherwise.
In my parenting (and all relationships), I now understand that I can be imperfect, and through this imperfection, I offer the biggest lessons about life to my children. That I will mess up, and I will fall, but it is what I do afterwards that makes all the difference.
What do you do when you Mess Up as a Parent?
1. Whenever I have acted out in a way that is not ideal as a mom, I take notice of my action without judging myself. I no longer stay up all night about it – engulfed in guilt.
2. I ask myself what exactly I did that I did not agree with;
3. Then, I notice how that affected me;
4. And finally, I ask myself what action I can take in the future so that I don’t repeat whatever it was that I did that made a mess of things. That being said, if I do repeat it, I will then go back and repeat 1-4 without judgment. Hey sometimes, we all need practice and training when taking on a new skill, right?
5. Finally, I go and explain this to my children. I go through 1-4. I share with them what I noticed about my actions towards them, how it affected me – sometimes they share how it affected them too, and then tell them what I will put in place about it.
My children love this. I have been able to do this with my daughter since she was 4, and it is something that is appreciated by the entire family. And we hold each other accountable whenever we slip. This is how we offer each other support, love, flexibility, understand and non –judgment.
This process has opened a whole new way of life for me, my family, and all of my relationships – including work relationships. I simply stay on the path, I am clear that I will not be perfect along the way, and now I actually look forward to the challenges that will stretch me a bit.
Imperfection in a way…is Perfection!
Allow yourself to fall. Celebrate your Breakdowns! It is the only way you can enjoy the Breakthroughs life has to offer. Parenting is an excellent opportunity to enjoy the most breakdowns you can have in a life time. Your children are your blessing. They will stretch you every single day of your life. Allow them this opportunity – it is their offering, and a gift to you on your parenting journey.
If you have any stories to share about an imperfect moment, or comments, we would love to hear it. It is through each other’s experiences that we gain the support we need during our tough moments.