I have been OVERWHELMINGLY inspired by the children of our country in this moment. Not just the children of Marjory Stoneman Douglas HS, but of the children all over the country. When I started to type this, there were teenagers holding a ‘lie-in’ outside of the White House to call for change – laying on the ground, wrapped in flags, mimicking dead bodies, to stand in solidarity with the students in FL. Today students have taken over the capitol in Tallahassee and are marching all over the country. Since the most recent shooting we have seen children at microphones yelling impassioned speeches, we have seen them on major news networks being angry and articulate AF, and we have seen them literally holding each other up as emotion comes pouring out of their little bodies. They have also inspired/planned two nationwide (perhaps worldwide by go-time) events in the coming months. I hate that this fight has already fallen to them, but they don’t seem to want our permission to take it over. And I am here for it.
As the owner of a childcare company while not having children of my own, I’m often offered a very unique perspective on parents and parenting. It’s a shitstorm world out there for a parent these days (no surprise to any parent reading this). New opinions everywhere you turn, judgements from other parents, new studies, toys, foods, ways to do things, and always someone watching. You beat yourselves up for not doing enough, for working too long, for not working enough, for feeding this, or sleeping that, letting them watch whatever… I see all of these little things eating at so many of you, all the time, and so often I feel helpless in convincing you that you are doing an incredible job. Because you really are doing an incredible job.
The parents of these amazing Florida children surely weren’t perfect in their child raising. They didn’t get a handbook that other parents missed out on. They did their best with what they had. They made mistakes, and at times surely felt like they were screwing their kids up too. But they didn’t. And you aren’t either.
All of you take different parenting-style paths, but the path you take and the decisions you make are made out of love and wanting to be the best parent you can be. Of these remarkable students, we don’t know which ones were breastfed, which ones CIO-ed, watched TV all day, ate organic, slept in a gold plated crib, or wore cloth diapers. But we do know they were loved. We know they were taught to embrace who they are, to be strong, to be kind, and to empathize with others. These are the qualities we are seeing shine so brightly now that are impressing us all so much. These are the qualities in these small humans that really matter. And these are the things that their parents probably didn’t even realize they were teaching.
So please, PLEASE, give your parenting-selves a damn break.
Sure, your kid may have had McDonalds for three meals last week, but do they also know you love them more than all the French Fries in the whole world? Which thing will have the most lasting impact?
Yep, your kid may have watched 30 extra minutes of Paw Patrol today, but did you having that 30 minutes of time make you a more patient, loving mom at bedtime? Which thing will they remember more?
Yeah, you yelled at your kid because you had a short fuse after a crap day at the office, but did you also apologize and show them that even grown ups make mistakes and have to learn to manage their angry feelings? Isn’t this also a helpful lesson?
The next time you feel like you are a not-great parent or even one of those dismal days when you feel like the worst parent of all parents ever, please step back and remember your end goal. The pressure to be perfect is never going to change, but your perspective on what that means, can.