Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Just Breathe!

Everyone take a deep breath. That's right. In. Now out. There! Feel better? 

Breathing deeply is good for your health. It is also a good technique to use when you feel like, oh say, lambasting someone for their annoying behavior. Also, it is advisable for parents to practice deep breathing so they don't kill their children. That or counting to three. My mother used to count to three. I thought it was so I would have time to run away from her wrath but now that I'm a parent I believe she was trying to calm herself before giving me what I deserved.

Parenting is, in my humble opinion, the absolute hardest job on the planet. And by hard I mean nobody's perfect. Nobody, not even Mother Theresa. Why? Because despite the fact she has the word mother in her name she did not, in fact, have children. If she had I can't help but wonder if she would have reached saint status.

No mother is a perfect mother. Not you and certainly not me. Let's just get that out on the table. You are not going to parent perfectly. You are, in fact, going to mess up. You will yell. You'll say inappropriate things. You will make your kids feel bad. You might even cross the line and punish them too harshly. You'll lash out and you'll make bad discipline decisions. It is even possible you will be late to pick them up from practice and they will start walking home in the dark, and you won't even see them when you drive by. Oh wait, that only happened to me.

In fact, you couldn't have seen it, but I just yelled at my kid between these two paragraphs because he was annoying me while I was trying to write a coherent sentence for you.

So while parenting is the most difficult task, it is also the most universally uniting act amongst women. This is why it is not hard for me to write parenting articles week after week. Golly, my own five kids give me enough fodder to fill up blog rolls, articles and an exorbitant amount of tweets daily. I'm in the trenches with every other mother out there. When I write about being more patient with your kid it's probably because I need to be more patient with my kid.

Preach to the choir much?

I'm no fly on your wall! I surmise you struggle with yelling at your kids because I do. I'm home all summer vacation with five squirrelly I'm-bored-look-mom-we-brought-home-a-stray-cat rug rats. I know what its like to literally be exhausted from referring every sibling squabble. I know you feel inadequate to make some decisions about healthcare and services because I do too. I can absolute relate with potty training boot camp because I still get that twitch in my eye when I recall the six months it took to toilet train the twins.

I might be a parent educator who's job it is to disseminate information, but I'm a mom too. An exhausted, overworked, underpaid, laundry up to my eyeballs mom.

My practical parenting articles are intended to encourage parents and caregivers, not discourage. I believe in and write about the parenting techniques that make the job of parenting easier. Couldn't we all use a bit of a break? How about a helpful reminder about child development issues so that you don't expect the impossible from your child? Couldn't that make parenting a bit less tedious? And isn't that a good thing?

These are the things I'm aiming for! I write from my heart and experience, never from my judgements. If a topic hits a nerve with you it's not because I'm interested in pointing out your flaws. Nay, if an article hits home with you chances are it does with a multitude of other mothers! Why? Because we all struggle with the same issues. We are all trying. And we fail. Sometimes we parent well. Sometimes we don't.

As a mother I am the last person who would ever want to heap guilt onto your already over-worried mind. Pointing out where parents struggle isn't intended to point out your struggle, its intention is bring light to the common dark places we all deal with.

I believe that innate in every mother is the desire and intention to do right by our kids. I've never met a mother who wants to screw their kids up. We all want the best for them. It's that desire that causes us, at times, to reflect and ask if we are doing a good job. And if we are honest with ourselves we'll admit there are times or areas that need improvement.

But it's ok. Just the fact that you are willing to examine your parenting philosophy, I believe, makes you a good mom. So let's let the parenting articles challenge us. Let's let our friends encourage us. Let's be purposeful about being better when we can. But on those bad days when parenting seems impossible, let's be gentle with ourselves and take a deep breath. Why? Because I'm the mother and I said so! That's why!

(This article appears in The Review Atlas as a part of my weekly Practical Parenting series. A series I hope with fingers crossed will find it's way to the desk of some important person who makes decisions about syndication. To be clear, I am very interested in syndication! Please pass this on if you know an important editor! Please and thank you!)

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