"I'm doing the best I can."
I hear it all the time. In fact, I used to say it often describing my efforts at the monumental task of raising our sons. Whenever I would mess up, fall short, or just plain lose it, I comforted myself with that soothing phrase. It just made me feel better. But was it true. Honestly? Nope! And it's okay!
I didn't do my best. I wanted to be a good mom. In fact, I wanted to be the best mom ever. I tried hard. Oh, I tried, but I didn't always give it my best shot. And it's okay!
My best would have required some sacrifices I didn't always feel like making. Sometimes TV was the babysitter and Ronald McDonald was the chef. Sometimes nap time was extended because mom needed a little more time. Sometimes "I don't know" answered a question that would have been a great teaching opportunity because I just didn't have it in me to answer one. more. question.
I've been a work at home mom for three decades. All those balls in the air .... sometimes they drop. Sometimes the kids ate one more Little Debbie snack to buy me a little more time to finish a job.
Our sons are all grown and married now. Those long days in the mom trenches have been replaced with video chats with our grandson and patiently waiting on more little bundles of sunshine on the way.
We've talked about those early days. We've laughed until we've cried reliving the funny stories, and heartwarming memories bring the joy full circle.
But there are other memories of hard days gone by that also need validation. It would be nice to pack those away in a box in the closet to collect years of dust, but they are part of the story. It's important to remember where we've come from. It frames our growth and progress, for us parents, but also for our kids.
Looking back, I'd love to have been able to sit with that tired young mom over a cup of coffee. I'd tell her that love is the most important thing, that love sets boundaries, love tries but sometimes falls short, and love owns up to its shortcomings. Our kids don't want perfect parents after all. They want to be loved. They want our attention. They want to be seen and heard.
It's okay to cue up one more video or go through a drive-thru when you're stretched thin. It's okay to have a moment or two that falls short of your standard. You're not a bad parent. You're just human.
Best is good. Best is what we strive for. But this parenting thing is not an all or nothing event. It's a marathon. Keep your head up and your eye on the finish line. You can do it!
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