When my babies were little I used to imagine my family’s future together.
I could see us with our smiling faces seated around our kitchen table every night for dinner.
I could see us laughing as we told funny stories about our days at work and school.
I could see us spending carefree days on family vacations as we toured the country, explored the world, and had fun playing at beaches and amusement parks.
I could see us managing conflict with ease, because my background as a therapist and teacher and my husband’s background as a teacher and manager would surely mean we would nail it as parents.
I could see us - a perfect family.
I thought about that perfect family a lot recently.
It was nowhere to be found.
I couldn’t see it.
People could see us as we stood in the 90 degree sweltering sun, waiting in a ridiculously long line for a terrifying amusement park ride that would probably leave me nauseous and panicked.
People could us see arguing with each other as the dehydration and exhaustion began to creep in.
People could us communicating with each other via dagger glares, willing each other to say the right thing.
People could see us gritting our teeth and turning away from each other, too frustrated to say anything more.
This was not the family I had imagined.
And for a little while, right there in the middle of an amusement park, I almost cried.
Where did I go wrong?
How is it our reality that sometimes we yell at each other, cuss, and even stomp away angrily?
Why can’t we be that picture perfect family I had imagined?
Then I watched as my family apologized to each other, took ownership for our actions, recognized where we went wrong, strategized ways to not let it happen again, and then moved on.
I watched as my family had fun later that day even while standing in the hot sun and waiting two hours for a thrill ride.
I watched as my family joked lovingly with each other and created moments that we will always remember.
I watched as my family went back to the hotel pool and played a game for an hour, laughing and reminiscing about the good parts of the day.
And that night as we all hugged and said goodnight, I watched as my family reminded me that perfection is a myth, especially when it comes to parenting and being in a family.
I could finally see that our beauty as a family comes not from our moments of fake perfection but rather from our flaws, our struggles, our mistakes, and our pain.
Because out of those moments comes deeper connection, real growth, meaningful insight, and everlasting bonds.
And that was more than I ever could have imagined.