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Challenge: Finding Your Voice as a Parent

I'm Not A Perfect Parent... And That's Perfectly OK

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My mom grew up in a house with a thatched straw roof in the African nation of Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). She went to bed at night watching critters crawl around her ceiling and woke up to screaming monkeys outside her window. Seriously. After moving to the States and giving birth to my sister and me, she made a wholehearted attempt to morph into an American housewife. Let me tell you… she never really got the hang of it.

When the neighbors were making spaghetti and meatballs, my mom cooked up liver and onions or yellow curry. She kept our house doors wide-open and unlocked at all times. My sister and I regularly roamed the neighborhood without shoes, making our soles as tough as rawhide and our faces recognizable to everyone within a 2-mile radius.

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Our childhood haircuts were a special kind of different. My mom would get out the kitchen shears and work her Edward Scissorhands-like magic, leaving us with jagged, decidedly UNmagical hairdos. I present the photo above as Exhibit A.

We lived a rather bohemian life in our rather straight-laced community. My sister and I silently lamented that our family wasn’t quite like the ones surrounding us.

When I became a parent, I was determined to do things “just right,” unlike my unconventional mother. Being a self-professed perfectionist, it felt even more important to do things by the book.

Hooo boy… I was in for a rude awakening.

Nothing about the parenting adventure seemed to go “just right” for my little newborn and me. Breastfeeding got off to a super bumpy start and sleeping wasn’t really happening. My little guy had cradle cap, a speckled rash and a throaty scream loud enough to wake the neighbors. My entrance into parenthood was absolutely not the idyllic, sugarcoated experience that I had always imagined.

Fast forward to my boys getting older. They’re healthy, sturdy and relatively nice-mannered young men. Nevertheless, I often send them out the door with pants that are a little too short and hair that is sticking up in five different directions. I’ve been known to miss important e-mails from their teachers and miss important deadlines to register them for basketball. And there are definitely those days those when my voice raises a notch too high and days when my boys end up with waaaaay too much screen time. Ugh, I’m the first to admit - I’m still not getting the parenting thing “just right”.

But you know what? The further along in my parenting adventure, the less concerned I feel about getting things perfect all of the time. I really do have a new appreciation for my mom and her non-conformist style of raising kids. As an adult, I’m creative. I think outside of the box and sometimes shoot for the stars. I don’t let rules or societal norms dictate everything I do. I have my Mom to thank for this.

I’m beginning to realize that my special brand of parenting is actually just right for my kids. I don’t always get things picture-perfect, but I can hold my head high knowing that I'm doing my best. My boys might not always have the newest Under Amour leggings or Pinterest-perfect, hand-crafted Valentines, but they know that their parents love them and that they will have a memorable, adventure-filled childhood just like I did. I’m finding my groove with this parenting thing. It’s not flawless but it is just right for my family.

As for my boys’ haircuts, I definitely take them to the barbershop. Sorry Mom, I’m not following your lead on that one.

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