I know that in theory we all know that there is no such thing as "Perfect Parenting", but I believe in our hearts many of us still strive for it. Maybe it's another effect of our modern, competitive society. Maybe it's because we sense that we are "missing" something. Whatever the case may be, I think that a lot of us feel defensive when any idea or advice seems at odds with how we do something.
I know that sometimes when I read some of my favorite unschooling blogs or writings I start feeling like they do everything right and that I "should be" doing better.
So I wanted to share a short story. A few weeks ago I took my three kids (3!!!) to the zoo for my daughter's class. It wasn't the first time I had done it myself with all 3, but we're still getting the hang of how everything works with a new little person added to the mix.
When we arrived, Gerry had just about fallen asleep. This is the hardest for him because he is tired and groggy. So I wasn't surprised at all when he said that he "couldn't" walk.
Well, I knew we didn't have a lot of time to wait around for him to wake up since Marisol wanted to be on time. So I put on my Super Mommy cape - I mean I the baby carrier - Marisol helpfully carried our heavy backpack, and I had Gerry climb onto my back.Voilà! We were on our way. Of course I had Marisol snap a picture, because these days I take pictures of everything.
This was a good moment. A moment when I felt like I was doing my best. I don't care anymore if people think I look crazy or like a martyr or if they're thinking that I "should" "make" my 6 year old walk. I feel strong and competent and happy to meet all of our needs when I can.
Plus I didn't carry him that far. Ha! A little fresh air and I put him down and he was off and running, literally, racing his sister to the building where her class was.
Remember - this was a good moment.
Later, after class ended, we tried to get ice-cream. The first machine said "out of order." So we walked uphill to another machine. This one said "Cash only". Come on! Who carries cash anymore??
My son was tired and not pleased to say the least. "Why don't you ever have cash??!" he cried. And also - of course - he couldn't walk again. This time I didn't have my super mom cape. The baby was stretching out my carrier and riding low. Plus we were walking down hill now - surely he could walk.
We walked a bit with him crying and then he stopped. So I grabbed him under the armpit in a half-hearted attempt to "carry" him. Since he wasn't moving his feet (because he couldn't walk, remember?) it turned into me dragging him. I was tired and frustrated and after a few feet (yards??) I stopped. I probably walked a bit more then looked back.
"I hate you!" he shouted at me, his face contorted and sad - the first time he uttered those words. Not a milestone we parents normally like to mark and remember. I squatted in front of him. I didn't yell or tell him he was ungrateful or try to remind him of all I've ever done for him. Actually I didn't blame him at all - I was a little sad myself, but my behavior kind of deserved it.
I sighed and said, "I don't know what you want me to do, Gerry. What should I do?"
And with those words I knew what to do. I went back a little ways to a bench. Marisol and I sat and ate a snack while Gerry rested on the curb. I decided to re-do the baby wrap tighter so I could carry Gerry again. Marisol's teacher walked by and we chatted - I told her "someone was having a hard time" and we smiled. She told me "I don't know how you do it."
Well, I do know. I just do my best. Sometimes I make mistakes. I try to apologize for them. Later that night I talked to Gerry and he cried and told me that I was "dragging" him. It's true - I was. So I said sorry and that what I did wasn't ok and I wouldn't do it again.
Peaceful parenting doesn't mean we have all the answers - it means admitting when we're wrong and apologizing. It's not making excuses or blaming our kids for our own bad behavior. And then we follow through and try to do better while forgiving ourselves for being human.
Wife, mom, information and peace seeker.