Ooooooh, parenting. Good, fun, joyous, hard, baffling.... choose your adjective and it will fit. I don't know about you, but there are days--many days, really--when I think I'm not cut out for it. When I KNOW my kids would be better off being raised by somebody else. Somebody smarter, more well read, who can explain more articulately the ways of the world. Somebody with all their ducks in a row, one of those organized moms who packs cute bento boxes full of healthy food (actually, healthy food is one of the only areas where I really feel like I'm winning at parenting, or at least running a good race.) I don't even know where all my ducks are, let alone having them in some kind of formation.
Often I feel like my kids would benefit from having a mom who is less sporadic. Who goes to the grocery on the same day every week, who meal plans with cute pages in a cute planner, and then writes the meals for the week on one of those cute chalkboards in fancy letters. I don't do any of that. I see what veggies we have in the fridge and I serve them with either pasta, rice, or eggs.
Sometimes I feel like my kids should have a mom who works, someone who can show them the benefits of being a woman in the workplace, who follows her dreams and is ambitious and is a breadwinner. I'm not even a bread BAKER. That would be beneficial to them too, to have a mother who can keep a sourdough starter alive. Or who could run a business, or be a part of someone else's business. A community leader. A member of a team outside of the home.
It would be good to be somewhat fashionable, to wear trendy clothes, cute shoes, maybe not cut my own hair over the bathroom sink every six months and call it good. I'm raising four daughters who don't know much at all about feminine style and trends.
Maybe I should be a mom who runs 5ks and trains for something I want to do and shows them that anything is achievable, even if the achievement you're striving for is just DOING something. That's really honorable. It shows dedication and commitment and hard work.
All of these things sound like such good things to add to my parenting resume. They would make me a better, fuller person and a stronger role model for my kids. But they are things I know I'll never do (except maybe the sourdough, someday, with practice.) Those things aren't ME. I'm not organized. I like to buy cute planners, but I don't USE them... I rarely even know what day it is. Meal planning--Ha! I've tried it so many times, and it always ends in failure. Because even though Thursday Dinner might say "Chicken Parmesan," if I don't feel like cooking or eating Chicken Parmesan on Thursday, there is no way I'm going to be able to make it. When it comes to running organizations, that's just as laughable as meal planning. I can run a vacuum and a garbage disposal and that's about it.
It's so easy to feel down on yourself. It's so easy to see the moms around you doing so much, achieving so much.
But here's what I was thinking today. I was thinking, it doesn't matter. It doesn't matter that I'm not a sports mom. It doesn't matter that I don't get my nails and hair done. It doesn't matter that I "just" stay home and homeschool my kids. It doesn't matter that they aren't exposed to big, enormous achievements by their mom. That doesn't mean I won't encourage them to reach for high goals. That doesn't mean I don't love them. It doesn't mean I'm doing anything wrong--it just means that my life doesn't look exactly like the lives of the families around me.
And here's the really important thing, for anyone who might be reading this and thinking the same thing sometimes:
YOU are just right for YOUR children. You are disciplining, feeding, teaching, loving your children in the way that fits your family, and you can be sure of that because they are yours. You are leading by example in things that they will grow from, no matter how big or small your achievements are, because everything a parent does can foster the growth in their children. You are being a good example for your children because you are showing them love in your own special way. You are making them into special, unique people, just by being uniquely you!
And really, the key point in all this is the fact that your children are yours. Just like when they were babies and you could recognize the difference between a sad cry and a hungry cry, you can tell when your older children are hurt, or embarrassed, or elated.... usually without any words at all. You can look at their faces and see when something is bothering them. You can hear a tone in their voice that says someone has hurt them. You can tell when they are lying to you, when their tears are genuine, when their joy is at it's deepest. These are the things that make you a parent, no matter what car you drive, no matter what planner you use, no matter if you cut your own hair or visit a salon, use bento boxes or brown paper bags. You have a recognition of your own children that is irreplaceable.
It's great to be a parent, sure. But what makes it most special is that your children are very specially yours.