Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Why is it so hard? Why is parenting so exhausting and frustrating sometimes? Especially when it's one of those days? Or one of those weeks.... No naps, no cooperation, lots of whining and problems, nothing goes well, everything is just.... hard.
Sometimes there is no way to explain the difficulty. It just is. Too bad we can't just accept that, and live with it. If we could, it would eventually get easier again for awhile, and life would move forward. Instead, we tend to focus on the negative, and stay in the bad place longer than we have to, and wallow in blame. We blame ourselves for being bad parents. We blame our kids for spoiled and demanding, our partners for not being helpful enough. But blame doesn't help anyone.
But looking back over the years at my own parenting struggles, I think the main thing that made it hard at times was my own unrealistic expectations for my kids and for myself. I wanted them to be a certain way, a certain thing. I wanted myself to be a certain type of parent. I wanted us to be a particular type of family, and I wanted us to achieve an unrealistic level of perfection. Well, needless to say, we never made it. And most of the time that I spent focusing on those crazy goals was not only wasted, but was responsible for creating an unhappy atmosphere in our family and anxiety within myself. I see now that my desires for some sort of unattainable perfection were all based on trying to please or impress other people, and had nothing to do with meeting the needs of my children or myself. Of course I had no idea of this at the time.
I'm thinking that if I were to raise my kids all over again I would want to try to just let them be. Just let them be who they are, and do what they need to do. I would also try to offer myself the same courtesies: allow myself to be un-impressive. Make "who cares" my motto. Try to make enjoying my kids my daily goal. What a difference that would have made in the level of my stress as a young mom 20 years ago!
Posted by ANNIE CASTLE DECKERT, M.ED.PSYCH.