Happy 2016! Yes, I realize we've been in 2016 almost two weeks now at the time of me typing these words. But for the sake of this most curious Parenting Team challenge of claiming my resolution for better parenting, I've been thinking... and thinking: What can I change, what can I change, what can I change? I've gotta change something about my parenting style, don't I... DON'T I?!?!?
I have my good days. I have my bad days. I have my days when I make a killer roast chicken and braised veggies and rice pilaf from scratch. I have my days when I make macaroni and cheese out of the box (but substitute the milk with extra butter because I didn't get to the store to buy more milk). I have my days when I yell and feel so mean and impatient. I have my days when I sit on the floor all afternoon serving dolls and stuffed animals pretend cookies and tea.
So what I should change? I asked my in-house experts:
Yeah. Just what I expected. (Although I didn't expect the fashion show thing. Maybe I've exposed her to too many red carpet events on TV... note to self: Turn off E!)
But seriously, the more I kept thinking about what I could change about my parenting style, the more my mind returned to the typical cliches all of us want to pull off. Stop yelling? Typical. Make more time for me? Overdone (although very, very valuable when we actually get to do it). Eat meals together more often? I eat meals with these little people every single day. Be more relaxed? An obvious choice.
And then it hit me: If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
It was a revelation that surpassed even the best resolutions.
If it ain't broke, don't fix it. So I'm won't. I will try my best to keep things unbroken, and that's about it.
Despite my constant online musings and abusings on all things motherhood, I'm also the first person to testify that we can all get obsessively and unhealthily wrapped up in modern parenthood's what's wrong, what's not good enough, what does my 5 year old's cough really sound like (is it strep? pneumonia? blood clot?) and why doesn't my 3 year old want to sleep (she's got to have some kind of psychological issues for not wanting to sleep). I'm afraid to say that, because we've got clicks of devices and computers at our fingertips, we seem to have become a bit intimidated about raising our kids.
Is their school good enough? Am I pushing them too hard? Am I letting them play enough? Am I letting myself play enough? Will they resent me because... will they be affected by... will they, will I, will we...
We're clicking too much. We're reading too much. We're worrying too much. Methinks we might be overextending our expectations and editing our behavior as parents, rather than just letting ourselves react to moments as they happen. We seem to be underestimating our own capability and instincts and comparing our day to day realities with the hundreds of guidelines, opinions, experiences and articles we read about on any given day... because these resources are so easily accessible.
Myself included here.
I realized: I sometimes look for things to be 'broken' so that I can troubleshoot them, avoid the pitfalls and/or remedy them immediately... even when they aren't close to being broken. If my 5 year old has a tantrum about not wanting to share her American Girl doll with her sister, I find myself Googling "do 5 year olds have tantrums." Pathetic and ridiculous on my part (as though I've never gotten mad and flipped out about anything in my own life). Us moms want to fix things but we also need to step back, turn off the worry switch and only fix things if they truly prove to be broken.
All we can do is give our best one day at a time, even if those 'bests' are uneven here and there. (I'm guessing most every parent reading this does in fact give their best every day by default -- I kinda feel like we're programmed to whether we're conscious of it or not.) Some days will rock, some days will really suck and I will yell (and they will cry) and then we will all go to bed and start another day fresh. I do not claim to be perfect, but I also think I'm doing a pretty good job when you round it all together.
We're all doing a pretty good job when you round it all together. WE ARE. BECAUSE WE'RE PARENTS.
This year, I'm giving myself credit no matter what kind of crapstorm finds it's way to our home. I will stay present in the moment. I will not overreact. I will be confident in what I offer. I will not look for issues if real issues aren't there. My kids will be fine. All will be fine. (Hey, we all turned out fine, and I guarantee our parents didn't think about half the things we think about when they raised us...)
Because if something ain't broken, I don't wanna try to fix it.