Thursday, August 30, 2012

What I want most for Everly (And combatting parenting guilt)

Parenting is certainly the hardest job I've ever taken on. And often (because I am sleep deprived and impatient by nature) I find myself feeling like the worst parent ever. Of course some days I feel like the best parent ever, but that is more rare.

And of course I'm constantly asking myself what is the most important. If I can only get 50% of this parenting gig right, what 50% matters most?!

I'm relatively certain it is not the providing of the best material things, or access to the top-notch best education opportunities, or making sure my child experiences traveling to far off lands and seeing all kinds of people (though those are all things I want for her).

Mostly I worry about her growing up an emotionally strong healthy person. With good self-esteem and a confidence without arrogance. And I want her to have a kind heart and be loving to herself and others.

The other day I was rewatching this video by Brene Brown (embedded at the end of this post). It is fantastic (so fantastic it has almost  6 million views...and it's a talk...not a 30 second hilarious autotune cat video or something...a talk that 6 million people have taken time to watch). I posted it a while back, but this time something different stuck out to me.

Starting at 18:00 she says:
"We perfect, most dangerously, our children. Let me tell you what we think about children. They are hardwired for struggle when they get here. When you hold those perfect little babies in your hand our job is not to say 'Look at her, she's perfect, my job is just to keep her perfect and make sure she makes the tennis team by the time she's in 5th grade and Yale by 7th grade.' That's not our job. Our job is to look and say say 'You know what, you're imperfect and you're wired for struggle, but you are worthy of love and belonging.' That's our job. Show me a generation of kids raised like that and we'll end the problems I think that we see today."

I love this talk. I love so many things about it. Most of all what it says about vulnerability, authenticity, and about how all the meaning in our lives comes from connection to other people. I want Everly to be good at that. I want her to achieve all her dreams, whatever they may be. But mostly, I want her to have what she won't know to want -- the ability to be vulnerable, authentic, and believe she is worthy of love and belonging. To have this strong foundation from which she can achieve all those other dreams.

I also think this helps a lot with the parenting guilt and comparison among parents. I don't have to be good at every aspect of parenting. I don't have to play with her every second of the day, make every second nurturing and meaningful, feed her only perfect food, or any of the other many MANY things us mothers worry about.

I just want to focus on what matters, I want to ask myself "Is the way I'm parenting making Evie feel safe, secure, worthy of love and belonging?" and because of our faith I also ask myself "Am I teaching Everly to think through big questions and turn to God for answers?" I think if I can answer yes to both those questions then I am a happy parent.

We all parent differently. And we all have different kids. And different life circumstances. There is no single "right" way, despite what the internet/parents/in-laws/doctors would tell you. I feel like a failure as a parent when I focus on all the things I wish I could be as a mom (and no mom can do "it all"), but I feel successful as a parent when I narrow it down to those two things. I see areas for improvement, sure, but I feel like it is doable. Manageable. I don't feel defeated by the monumental task of parenting. Instead I see it as a privilege to help mold a human being to have the best life experience possible.

So I just thought I'd share. Combating parenting guilt and finding the motivation and drive to be a good parent can be difficult. This insight makes it easier for me.

Here's that video:

5 little remarks:

Jessie said...

That was a very great talk, thanks for posting it. I watched the whole thing in its entirety (I love TED talks anyway). Very timely for me as I deal with yet another new parenting challenge that is the first grade and mean girls. :/

Tess said...

Well, I'm coming out of silently reading your blog. I found you via Katie King, a dear friend of mine from college. So I'm not a total creep-o. Anyway, that line about parenting being a privilege to help mold a human being really touched me. Thanks for that. And for the link to this talk. I've heard it before although I can't remember from where.

Tannie Datwyler said...

Thanks for sharing!! I love your thoughts Anna. I can't wait to watch this video - I've never seen it.

Emily S said...

I am too tired to say anything brilliant, but I like this. A lot. I get tired of feeling like if you really love your children you will do xyz . . . in addition to a through w. I think these two questions sum up what you need for your child to be a force for good in the world.

Kaela said...

Great post and great aspirations for a great parent:)

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