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Positively imperfect

Perhaps I’ve just been in a self-critical mood these days, but lately I’ve been wondering: Do people think that I write about parenting because I think I’m the perfect parent?

It’s the “gone to school in my underwear dream” gone awry.

Sometimes I’m out somewhere and my kids do something (the particulars hardly matter) and I’ll not have the perfect Positive Discipline response. Almost immediately (but not immediately enough) I might think: What if one of my readers saw me now?

Moral of the story is, we’re all human. Parenting is neither a science nor an art nor a discipline. It’s something we make up anew every single day.

I know at least one of you is out there thinking: Well, MY kids are just fine and I never snap at them.

Go away.

To the rest of you: It’s likely, given demographics and the way life works, that you did something before you had kids. You probably had a job. You may even have had a career. You may still have that job or career! In that job or career, when you did something really well, you got paid! You may have gotten raises! You may have gotten a plaque to put on your wall! You may even have gotten lunch out at a pretty nice restaurant.

At your place of employment, they may have had those little sheets of paper ready for patrons to fill out: How did we do today? Your clients or customers or patients may have said wonderful things about you. They may have been overwhelmed at the service you gave! Perhaps your interaction with them was life-changing. Or perhaps just very fulfilling. They may have filled out that little slip of paper and put it in the slot. And your manager looked at it and nodded. Yes, s/he is a very valuable employee. Next time raises come around, next time I need to commend someone, next time I have to choose someone to represent us at the really wild convention in Las Vegas, that’s who I’ll send.

Welcome to parenthood: There are no How are we doing? boxes. We all know what our customers would say:

You’re mean!

You didn’t let me have a lollipop!

How dare you criticize my essay and say it needed work?

Why didn’t you let me go to the Debbie Does Dallas sleepover that my friend had?

Who said you could tell me what to do?

Who made you God?

It’s not like you know anything about me!

What am I? Your servant?

We don’t put out those little slips of paper. Occasionally our spouses would write, in an attempt at childish penmanship, “I lov yoo so much Momy!”

We wouldn’t buy it. Parenting isn’t about positive feedback. It’s about sticking with it till…

Oh, and then there’s those parents you know who have grown up children. You’re ready to worship them. You’re ready to say, Oh, you got through it. How did you do it? What is your secret?

Then those parents say something like (don’t they always say something like this?):

Johnny needs me more now than he ever did as a child.

Really, raising children is nothing next to having to deal with them as adults.

And you think, Oh, gee, thanks. Will I ever get a break?

I’m here to say: No.

I’m not a perfect parent. I read Positive Discipline the way that my friend’s Dad read Playboy. I don’t actually expect to be able to channel Jane Nelson most of the day. Occasionally I remember to do it. But most of the time, I fall well short of the goal of perfect parenting.

My husband’s family has a plot in a cemetery where they all get buried. And because they know that people will actually be reading their tombstones, they actually think about them ahead of time. It’s pretty cool. One uncle’s stone says, “Cha cha cha.” I don’t know what it means, but my husband always laughs when he sees it.

It begs the question: If I thought I’d ever have a tombstone (I don’t have time to die at the moment!), and if I thought anyone would ever look at it, what would I say? I know that before kids (B.K.) and after kids if that ever happens (A.K.) perhaps I would come up with my own “cha cha cha” that would make my offspring, nieces, and nephews laugh when they saw it.

But right now, I can think of only one fitting phrase:

I tried.

Positively imperfect, that’s me. Every day, chugging and cha cha cha-ing along, trying to get it right.

And being pretty darn happy when I approach “only a little bit wrong.”

Posted in Parenting.

One Response

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  1. charolai says

    thank you. i love this

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